Baba ghanoush is a culinary classic with a texture and flavor as exotic as it’s name, but it’s far from a chefs-only dish. This exquisite dip is actually fast and simple to prepare, but to get the best results it’s important to start with the best ingredients.
Baba ghanoush is a soft, chunky paste of mashed roasted eggplant and tahini, or sesame seed paste. The dish is believed to have originated centuries ago in the eastern Mediterranean/ Western Asian Levant area. It remains a favorite throughout the Middle East, where is generally served with pita bread.
Start With The Eggplant: Chose It Well and Roast It Right
The most important ingredient in Baba Ganoush is the eggplant, so choose it carefully. Look for one that’s medium sized and shaped like a longish oval, light in weight with an unblemished, glossy skin. Wash and dry the eggplant before roasting, being careful not to pierce the skin.
Roasting the eggplant over an open flame gives it a deep, deliciously smoky flavor. An outdoor grill is ideal, but if you have a gas stove you can do your roasting right in your kitchen; just cover the burner pan with some sheets of aluminum foil to catch any drips and make cleanup quick and easy.
Place the whole eggplant on a rack above the coals if you’re roasting outdoors, or directly on the burner if you’re roasting in the kitchen. Your goal is to flame-roast the eggplant until the skin is blackened and papery and the flesh is tender, which will take around ten minutes. Stay close by and keep a close eye on the eggplant while it’s roasting, and turn it every couple of minutes to make sure it roasts evenly.
When the eggplant is perfectly roasted, remove it from the flame. Let it cool for a few minutes, then cut it in half lengthwise and put it in a strainer over a bowl to allow the fluids to drain for about 30 minutes. When the eggplant halves have cooled enough to make them easy to handle, gently scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
To prepare the flesh, chop it coarsely with a large knife – this will retain the texture of the eggplant. Now its ready to become Baba Ghanoush!
- The flesh of one roasted medium-sized eggplant, coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup of tahini
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 garlic cloves, minced fine
- 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped fine
- salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients but don’t overmix. Serve at room temperature with grilled or toasted pita bread, crackers, flatbread, pita chips, or thin slices of french bread, toasted.