Source: Adapted from “The New Vegetarian Epicure” cookbook
Baba Ghanoush is a delightful eggplant based dip or spread which spawns from the Middle Eastern region, specifically, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, etc. I had the pleasure of being introduced to this fine dish in my early teens, thanks to my childhood friend who was Palestinian. I was often invited over for Sunday lunch, dinners, birthday’s, or left-over’s from a big family fest. They knew I loved their food, and that I already had an cultural appreciation for food. Little did I know, I was on my way to seeing the connection food has to our soul. Yet I knew how I felt when I would eat their food with them. I felt Palestinian. I think that was mostly in part because every dish had a story. Her mom would tell me all about the food. Where it’s from, what was in it, how you cooked it, etc… In hind sight, it was great exposure to food for me. I felt the passion from her food that I felt from my families food. From Dolma, to Baba Ghanoush and hummus, it was a cuisine that I truly loved upon first bite and continue loving 30years later.
Baba Ghanoush – “Spoiled Daddy”
The name is that of an endearment, which loosely translated means ‘spoiled old daddy’. One can only imagine how this dip got its name, but why waste your time on wondering. I love to make this dish as an appetizer with flat breads or pita bread for dipping, or to make it along side a rice and meat meal. Until I realized how easy it was to make, I thought I would only be able to enjoy it in a restaurant or from my friend’s mother. This recipe is as close to authentic as I’ve found, down to the texture and taste.
The wonders of eggplant
Not only is Baba Ghanoush delicious, but it’s pretty healthy for you too. Eggplants have lots of beneficial anti-oxidants which do wonders for our bodies. From increasing the blood flow to our brains, to protecting our cells from free-radicals. Buy the best quality eggplant you can to ensure you get all that eggplant has to offer. Additionally, limit this dish to the time of year when eggplant is in season. If you’re buying out of season, you’re putting a huge demand on food. More than likely, the eggplant is coming from a far-off land that is warm year round. I know it’s hard, but try to think before you buy.
- 3 lbs eggplants firm & young
- 2 onions yellow, medium
- 1/2 head garlic
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt or more to taste
- 1 1/2 tbs tahin (sesame paste)
- 3 tbs lemon juice fresh-squeezed
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- Prick the eggplants here and there with a fork, put them on a big baking sheet and roast them in a 400°F oven until they are charred and collapsed-at least an hour.
- cut them in half, then put together in the food processor with the sauteed onions and additional items.
- While the eggplants are roasting, chop the onions and peel and mince the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a pan and cook the onion and garlic in it with the salt, stirring often, until they are a deep golden brown-probably at least 45 minutes. The flavor of the dish depends much on this slow caramelizing of the onion and garlic.
- Stir the cooked onion and garlic into the eggplant along with the tahin, lemon juice, and cayenne. Now either chop everything finely until it has the texture you like, or process it a few seconds in a food processor for a smoother finish.
- Let it rest 1-2 hours (refrigerate if longer), then taste it and correct the salt and lemon juice if needed. Serve the Baba Ghanouj in a shallow bowl surrounded by lots of cilantro leaves and pass toasted pita triangles to dip into it. If you’re not worried about fat content, you can drizzle more olive oil on top, but it certainly isn’t necessary.