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.
Battle on – TheGeneralissimoPrint
- 2 large eggplants, not the Asian variety
- Juice of 1 lemon, plus a little extra
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 tbsp chopped mint
- 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 ½ tsp. freshly ground cumin
- ¾ tsp. freshly ground coriander seed
- ⅛ tsp. or to taste Hickory liquid smoke (TFD addition, optional but recommended)
- 1 tbsp pomegranate seeds for garnish
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for garnish
- Aleppo pepper flakes and minced curly parsley for garnish
- Eggplant Roasting Directions Steps 1-3 are from Serious Eats:
- If using a gas burner or grill (recommended): Preheat a gas or coal grill to medium heat and place eggplants directly over heat source. Cook, turning occasionally with tongs, until completely tender and well charred on all sides, 30 to 40 minutes. Wrap with foil and let rest 15 minutes. Continue to step 3.
- If using the broiler: Adjust rack to 6 inches below broiler element and preheat broiler to high. Place eggplant on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Broil, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides and completely tender, about 1 hour. Eggplants should be very, very tender when cooked. Test near the stem and bottom ends. If a toothpick or skewer meets any resistance, continue cooking. (See note above.)
- Remove from oven and gather up foil, crimping it around the eggplants to form a sealed package. Let the eggplants rest for 15 minutes. Continue to step 3.
- Open foil package. Working one eggplant at a time, use a sharp paring knife to slit it open lengthwise. Carefully scoop out soft flesh with a large spoon and transfer to a strainer set in a large bowl. Once all eggplant is scooped, pick out any stray bits of skin and blackened flesh and discard.
- Leave to drain for 30 minutes, then whiz briefly in a food processor.
- In a serving bowl, stir the lemon juice into the tahini until it loosens up. Add the garlic and ⅔ of the chopped herbs and the ground spices. Add a squeeze more lemon juice if necessary.
- Mash the aubergines gently with a fork, and then stir into the tahini mixture. Top with the remaining herbs, Aleppo pepper flakes and the pomegranate seeds. Taste – you should get a decent hit of smoke in the flavor profile. If you don’t, use the liquid smoke as required to get the flavor profile you want. Pour a moat of oil around the edge and serve.
- Calories: 205.29 kcal
- Sugar: 12.91 g
- Sodium: 19.2 mg
- Fat: 11.75 g
- Saturated Fat: 1.65 g
- Carbohydrates: 25.17 g
- Fiber: 11.98 g
- Protein: 5.28 g
- Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
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