Smoky, sweet, tangy and creamy with a hint of garlic and olive oil; the complex array of flavors in a good Baba Ghanoush belies its short list of simple ingredients. It’s not complicated to make, but there are a few tricks that make the difference between the nuanced eggplant dish I love and a watery, pallid excuse for a dip.
The first thing is that you need to literally burn the skin off the eggplant. I’m not talking a simple char; you want the skin to turn into a buckled mess of crackling carbon. This concentrates the flavors inside the eggplant and infuses a wonderful smoky aroma. Because eggplant has a lot of moisture, it’s also important to drain some of it off before making your dip.
I like using Japanese eggplants for this dish because they are sweet when roasted and have almost no seeds, but if you can’t find them in your area, two medium sized regular eggplants will do. When you’re choosing your eggplants, be sure to look for ones with taut unblemished skin.
Serve this with some pita bread, crackers, or chips. It’s also great on top of a salad with some Italian tuna, or spread in a sandwich with some sun dried tomatoes.
Smoky Baba Ghanoush
- 8 small Japanese eggplants
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2-3 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Either on the top shelf of your broiler, or directly on your gas stove, char the eggplant, turning to insure every bit of skin is charred. Don’t worry, you’re going to peel off the charred skin, so you really want to get the skin black and flakey as this is where the smoky aroma will come from.
- Set the charred eggplant aside until it cools enough to handle. Flake most of the black skin off (it’s okay if there’s a little left), then shred the eggplant by pulling it apart with your fingers and place it in a mesh strainer for 30 minutes to drain the extra liquid.
- Mince the eggplant, and then combine it in a bowl with the tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Stir well to combine and adjust seasonings to taste. Garnish with more olive oil and chopped parsley or sumac. Serve with crackers or chips.
Yield: 4 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a food blogger and photographer who spreads his passion for food through his websites norecipes.com and wanderingcook.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blogs in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.