When I was living in the Middle East for a few years, I loved to discover and learn about different kinds of vegetable dips One of my favourites was baba ganoush (sometimes spelled baba ganouj), which is an eggplant dip that originated from Lebanon.
The eggplant is called aubergine in some countries and widely known as brinjal in Southeast Asia. It’s a large berry, that is a fruit by botanical definition but usually thought of as a vegetable by gardeners. It’s easy to grow in the tropics and a few plants will usually produce more eggplants than most households can handle. They are one of the most disease and pest-resistant vegetables in tropical gardens and will crop throughout the year.
Eggplants belong to the nightshade family of plants and are used in many cuisines around the world due to the capability of the fruit to absorb oils and flavours into its flesh through cooking. Eggplants are rich in antioxidants, low in carbohydrates and high in water. So they make a great snack or healthy dish for people on a low-carb diet.
Traditionally, the eggplant for baba ganoush is baked or grilled over an open flame before peeling so that the pulp is soft and has a smoky flavour. It is a typical meze (starter) of the regional cuisine in the Mediterranean or the Middle East. It is commonly served as a side to the main dish and as a dip for pita bread. A spicier version of baba ganoush is sometimes called mutabbal. All vegetable dips are healthy choices especially when eaten with freshly cut vegetable sticks.
So if you are bored with hummus, come and try this easy and creamy baba ganoush. You might fall in love with this new dip!
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Serving size: 4
- 2 large eggplants
- 3 tbsp tahini paste
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp lime or lemon juice, more if you prefer
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 tsp sumac (optional)
- Sprinkle of dried chili flakes for garnish (optional)
- Toasted pine nuts for garnish
- Parsley leaves for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 175℃.
- Trim the top of the eggplant. Make a few slits in the skin using a knife to avoid explosion of the eggplant in the oven when being heated. Or you can half the eggplants.
- If you have time, sprinkle the eggplant flesh with sea salt and place in a colander in the sink to ‘sweat out’ its bitterness and drain any excess liquid. After 10 to 20 minutes, pat dry between two towels.
- Place the eggplant (flesh side down) on a lightly oiled baking sheet then drizzle with more olive oil. Bake/grill or roast in the heated oven for 40 minutes or until the eggplant is fully cooked. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- When the eggplant has cooled, cut in half. Scoop the flesh out and transfer to a colander. Let it drain for 3 minutes.
- Transfer the eggplant flesh to a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients, except those for garnish. Pulse or run the food processor briefly just until everything is blended (avoid over-blending) as you don’t want to have runny baba ganoush!
- Transfer the baba ganoush spread to a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for an hour to thicken the baba ganoush.
- Top the baba ganoush with a sprinkle of olive oil, toasted pine nuts, dried chili flakes and parsley leaves before serving.