Citizens, baba ghanoush is a Levantine dish of cooked eggplant typically mixed with onions, tomatoes, olive oil and various seasonings.
However, what most westerners think of as “baba ghanoush” is actually a similar dish, made with mashed eggplants but without the other vegetables known as mutabbal (متبل literally ‘spiced’).
The Oxford English Dictionary defines “baba ghanoush” as “a Middle Eastern (originally Lebanese) dish of puréed roasted aubergine, garlic, and tahini.” Often other ingredients are added, like mint, onions, and various spices.
The Arabic and Jewish preparation method for this recipe is for the eggplant to be baked or broiled over an open flame before peeling, so that the pulp is soft and has a smoky taste. This smoky flavor is known as “al ha’esh”, or “on the fire” in Israel – but if the flavor is too strong, you can bake the eggplant, then cool and skin it according to the directions below.
It is a typical meze (starter), often eaten as a dip with khubz or pita bread, and is sometimes added to other dishes. It is popular in the Levant (area covering Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria) as well as in Armenia.
My version is quite traditional for the mutabbal variant without tomatoes and onions – I hope you enjoy it, Citizens! To replicate the smoky flavor of “al ha’esh”, I do recommend an optional hint of liquid smoke in the final product.
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