So what exactly is Babaganoush? (Ba-ba-ga-nuj). Sounds exotic I know – Like a word that twirls around in your mouth and takes you to some strange colorful dream in the Arabian nights. Well, Babaganoush is a Lebanese dip, a cousin of my favorite dip – Hummus. The hero of this recipe is the lovely aubergine/eggplant. The eggplant is broiled/roasted over an open flame before peeling and mashing, so that the pulp has a nice smokey taste which is characteristic of this dip. The process is very similar to cooking our Baingan ka Barta in India. We mix it with tomatoes, garlic and onion paste and eat it with rotis or naan. The Lebanese mix it with Tahini and lemon juice and eat it with pita. It’s a small world! But the end result either way – is a glorious, smokey, silky pate that has everyone begging for more.
Prep time: 15 mins
Resting time: 10 mins
Makes: 8 servings
What you need:
1 big Eggplant
¼ cup Tahini (roasted white sesame paste)
¾ tsp Coarse Salt
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
3 cloves Garlic (smashed)
¼ tsp Chili powder
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Some yoghurt, more lemon juice and half a bunch Cilantro, chopped
Pita bread/ Crackers
What to do:
Prick the eggplant with a fork in a couple of places or make 4-5 long slits on the sides with a knife. Char the outside of the eggplant by placing it directly on the flame of a gas burner and as the skin chars, turn it until the eggplant is uniformly-charred on the outside. 10-15 mins is smokey enough for most people. Remove, put it in a ziplock (to preserve the smokiness) or cover with a damp tissue and let it cool. Split the eggplant and scrape out the pulp. Puree the pulp in a blender with the other ingredients (except the lemon juice & salt). Taste and season with the salt and lemon juice. Chill for a few hours before serving. (Babaganoush keeps well for 4-5 days in the fridge).
Just before serving, mix in some yoghurt (I use 1 Tbsp for 5 Tbsps of Babganoush), garnish with a dash of olive oil and some freshly chopped cilantro. Serve with toasted pita bread or crackers.
P.S. I smothered some on my freshly baked bread, topped with some olives and thoroughly enjoyed myself!