Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Baba ghanoush or...

When the wisteria outside of my kitchen window starts blooming, I know spring is finally here.

I invariably start craving more vegetables and healthier and lighter meals.

Spring is a time to enjoy the longer evenings, sipping white wine in front of open windows with friends. Or to stare up at the clear blue skies from your picnic blanket before the hot stickiness and mosquitoes of the metropolitan summer hit full force.

Dips are the ideal addition to this kind of gathering, delicious concoctions to smear on bread, scoop up with crunchy vegetables and chips or eat with a spoon directly out of the bowl once the guests have gone (if you are actually lucky enough to have leftovers).

Oh, and of course dips are my kind of thing right now: the less I chew these days the better.

This is a Levantine classic, along with other favorites like hummus. It calls for the same traditional base: garlic, tahini and lemon juice. There infinite versions: you can add cumin, vinegar or herbs like mint or parsley. You can dress it with a mix of olive oil and pomegranate concentrate/molasses or just drizzle it with some olive oil and paprika. In some countries it is eaten as a starter or a meze, while in others - like Egypt - it is a side dish.

Not only are the versions infinite, but also its spelling, local variations and translations. 

- Spelling: Baba ghanoush, Baba ghannouj, Baba ganoush, Babaganoush, Baba ganush, Baba ghannoug, Babba ghannoj, Abu gannoush (Abu being another word for Daddy, like Baba)

- Translations: spoiled Daddy, cuddly Daddy, cuddling Daddy

- Variations: Blagadoush (Ethiopia), Baingan ka bhurta (India and Pakistan), Salata de vinete (Romania), Kyopolou (Bulgaria), Melitzanosalata (Greece), Patlican salatasi (Turkey)

I could probably start an endless debate by asking what the right way to spell it, make it or translate it is. I won’t, although I will be more than happy to read your five cents in the comments.

Make it however you want to, spell it however you like, it is so easy and good, you probably won’t go out and buy it anymore.

1 eggplant/aubergine
2tbsp tahini
juice of half a lemon
a pinch of salt
1 clove garlic (or to taste), pressed or finely chopped
olive oil for garnish
paprika for garnish

The most important step is imparting a smoky flavor to the eggplant. You can do this broiling the eggplant over an open flame, grilling it over charcoal or roasting it in an oven. I opted for the latter, wrapping it in aluminum foil (not necessary) for about 90 minutes at 475°F/250°C. Before you put the eggplant into the oven, make sure to punch some holes in it with a fork to ensure uniformity in cooking.

In a bowl, mix together all the other ingredients.

When you take the eggplant out of the oven let it cool, discard the skin by scooping the flesh into a bowl and mash with a fork. Then mix in with the other ingredients.


  1. I love melitzanosalata, the Greek variation (we don't add tahini to ours).
    I have to give this a try, dips are always a life saver when people come over and you want to treat them to something delicious!

    1. I would love to hear more about melitzanosalata! I agree, dips are real lifesavers.

  2. One of my favorites, but I've never made it myself. Time to change that!!

  3. I always roast mine on the open flame, but it is a bit tricky and it can get messy. Cooking time is much shorter though, useful for when the crave for baba ghanoush kicks in and I can't wait. A lovely addition is some pomegranate seeds on top.

    1. I am sure it enhances the smokiness, but whenever I roast peppers over an open flame I make such a mess, I decided to try it the other way. It seemed to work pretty well anyway. I love the addition of the pomegranate seeds to the dip: lovely flavour and texture contrast. Thanks for the tip!

  4. I absolutely love baba ghanoush and love the process of blackening aubergines to make it...a bit messy but all that beautiful sweet flesh is 100% worth it.

    1. Ok, now you two (see above) have convinced me to try the quicker and much messier way!

  5. That's a beautiful looking dip. I love aubergine dip. It has a wonderful flavour and it's one of those dips where you know you can eat a lot of it and it isn't bad for you - guilt free dining! xx

    1. Exactly! Well, unless you skip the white wine... which you can't ;o)

  6. This is one of my favourite! Yet I have never made it! Bookmarked!

    I had no idea Baingan Bharta was a variation of Baba Ghanoush... but it makes sense. I love how you find the same (or very similar) dishes in different countries! It would be interesting to find out more! I guess in this case it must have been introduced to India by the Moghuls... but there are much "weirder" cases. Lately Nydia from Mi vida en Dulce told me that she has eaten a cabbucio-like (!) bread in the Peruvian Andes!!!! ;-)

    Anyhow... there's something waiting for you here: http://www.manusmenu.com/rotisserie-potatoes :-)

    1. As I wrote Magda, I would love to hear more about the variations. I am always intrigues by the similarities in dishes throughout the world. I imagine the cabbuccio similarity being a coincidence but perhaps not?

  7. What a lusciously textured dip! I'd probably eat this by the spoonful! :D

  8. Ooh! I love baba ghanoush! The last time I had it was in a pita with falafel. It was gorgeous.
    And yeah, I noticed how there's different spellings of baba ghanoush everywhere! I always got so confused.
    It's getting so warm, and all I want to eat is salads right now.

  9. I probably already said I love eggplants right? Looks delicious!

  10. I love eggplants and baba ganoush is one of my favorite ways of enjoying it!


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