This is a magic dish. Years ago when I first ever tasted baba ghanouj it seemed like another-planet food. My taste buds in confusion asked: What is that? It’s creamy, but it’s a bit slippery. It’s color is not describable. And the flavor…the flavor is all its very own. Like nothing else. Like eating ancient-foreign-vegetable-garden concentrate. The whole garden. Earth and all.
I used to be intimidated to make it. But now that I’m not, I feel like I’ve got a secret. Making it is surprisingly easy. Exotic flavor at your fingertips. And the aroma sticks to your fingertips long after you’ve consumed the dish. That’s a good thing. You don’t want it to be over.
It’s all eggplant. And garlic. And tahini. And olive oil. And seasonings. But it is mostly and basically and really just eggplant.
I used mini-eggplants this time. They have packages of mini-eggplants (about a dozen in the pack=about a pound and a quarter) at my favorite local international market, K & S. I don’t see them anywhere else.
But it’s just as easy to use normal-sized eggplants…process is the same.
I got the grill started on medium high. And greased the grate with Pam. I used skewers for the little guys so they’re easier to handle.
I also poked each one with a knife a couple of times to allow any steam to escape (so they don’t pop with heat excitement!).
After about 10 minutes, I turned them over, and let them cook another 10 minutes or so. You can’t really overcook this much. You want the skins to get charred and the center soft.
Take them off the grill and let cool.
When they are cooled, cut them half…
Scrape out the flesh into the bowl of food processor and discard the skins.
Add a couple of tablespoons of tahini, juice of 1 lemon, healthy dashes of ground cumin, 2 peeled and smashed garlic cloves, salt & pepper to taste. Pulse until smooth. Taste to see if you need more anything. Sometimes salt. Sometimes more cumin. And then add a few healthy swirls of olive oil. Pulse smooth.
And it’s done! Traditional pita points are used for dipping. But we’re trying to not eat bread around here and instead we dipped raw, crunchy fennel.
It’s a very delicious combination. Celery and carrot sticks work great, too. I also had some crushed pistachios on hand (left over from the cannoli cake we made in class) and sprinkled them on top. And a light swirl of olive oil completes the dish.
Brings you a taste of foreign lands (Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Armenia). And is a typical part of a full spread of small tasty treats (meze). If you make it, let me know how it goes! (And how far the taste transported you.)