Syrian/Lebanese Baba Ghanouj (Eggplant Dip)
Baba ghanouj or baba ghanoush is a delicious Mediterranean appetizer made with fire roasted eggplants and tahini sauce. It is popular throughout the Levant and therefore is a part of every holiday celebration in the Middle East. Baba is an Arabic word that means 'father' and is also a term of endearment, while ghanouj means 'spoiled' or 'pampered.' This creamy dip is made of grilled mashed aubergine (eggplant), tahini and lemon. However, Syrians called this creamy eggplant dip mutabbal. In Syrian cuisine, baba ghanoush is more like a salad; it does not include tahini, but does include roasted eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and walnuts mixed with lots of olive oil. Below are recipes for both types of baba ghanouj-- Syrian version and the version found in Lebanon, Israel and throughout the Levant.
Lebanese Baba Ghanoush/Syrian Mutabbal
Makes 4-6 Servings
1-2 globe eggplants (totaling 2 lbs)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tbsp roasted tahini (sesame paste)
1-2 garlic cloves (to taste), finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1- 2 tbsp of juice from lemon
1 tsp vinegar (optional)
salt and cayenne pepper to taste
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Cook the eggplants using either oven method or grilling method.
Oven method: Preheat oven to 400°F. Poke the eggplants in several places with the tines of a fork. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and brush the cut sides lightly with olive oil (about 1 tbsp). Place on a baking sheet, cut side down, and roast until very tender, about 35-40 mins. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Grilling method: Preheat grill. Poke the eggplants in a few places with a fork, then rub the eggplants with 1 tbs of the olive oil. Grill over high heat, turning as each side blackens. Put the charred eggplants in a paper bag, close the bag and let the eggplants steam in their skins for 15-20 minutes.
Place bag in a sieve or colander to reduce moisture.
Scoop the eggplant flesh into a large bowl and mash well with a fork.
Add garlic, olive oil, tahini, cumin, lemon juice (start with smaller amount), salt, cayenne and combine. Mash well (or use food processor- do not over process). You want the mixture to be somewhat smooth but still retaining some of the eggplant's texture.
Cool and season to taste: Allow the baba ganoush to cool to room temperature, then season to taste with additional lemon juice, salt, and cayenne.
If you want, swirl a little olive oil on the top. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.
Serve with pita bread, crackers, toast, sliced baguette, celery, or cucumber slices.
Syrian Baba Ghanouj
Makes 2-3 servings
1 large eggplant
1 medium tomato
1/2 cup packed chopped parsley
2 or 3 tablespoons pomegranate concentrate
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
2 gloves mashed garlic
A dash of cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper to taste
Peel and slice the eggplant. Deep fry it in oil until golden brown or you can line a baking pan with aluminum foil, put the eggplant slices and drizzle with some oil and roast in 350 oven for 20 minutes or until soft. Eggplants can also grilled for an great flavor.
Cut the eggplant into half an inch chunks.Chop the tomato and parsley.Mix the garlic, the pomegranate concentrate and seeds, salt and spices and add to the tomato and parsley and mix well.Add the eggplant and mix lightly.
Scoop onto a serving platter, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with parsley leaves and pomegranate seeds.