It’s eggplant, if you are from the USA, Australia, New Zealand, or Canada, aubergine, if you live in the UK, or brinjal, if you happen to reside in South Africa or Asia. Most people imagine this spongy berry (botanically speaking) being purple and elongated. But there are so many more: white elliptical, slim purple-black, yellow curved, green egg-shaped, or snake-like pink. But despite the abundancy, many people still detest eggplants: mushy texture, bitter flavour, downright strange appearances. But all matters right until you taste really good baba ganoush.
It’s a classic Middle East eggplant-tahini lemony garlicky dip with cumin, paprika and some fresh herbs. It’s concentrated and potent, yet velvety and smooth – enough for you to miss the moment when you are done with the second pita – the famous eastern flatbread that puffs in the oven, providing a hollow inside.
Baba ganoush is a very convenient preparation, as it can be made ahead of time and stored until needed – in the fridge up to 3 or 4 days. But not only that: it’s also very simple to make: char some eggplants, scrape the flesh, mix with the rest of the ingredients and here you go.
And here are some tricks to do it better. First things first, it’s the choice of the produce. Try to find more meaty aubergines, but not very large. The larger they are the less intense flavor they have. Then you need to grill the hell outta of them until their skins are blistered and black. Don’t be afraid to put them right under the broiler or the grill grate. Cook, turning occasionally, until eggplants are completely charred from all sides. You’ll notice how they become super soft and mushy, that’s where you’re heading. A simple toothpick test might help here.
Then you need to let them cool after the heat for 10-15 minutes until you’re able to handle them without burning your fingertips. Then slit the eggplants lengthwise and, with a blade of your knife, scrape the insides into a bowl. The difficult part is over. Then simply add some minced garlic, lemon juice, a couple of tablespoons tahini, salt and cumin, stir vigorously until a thick paste is obtained. To that mixture start adding olive oil, by a thin stream, stirring constantly. You’ll notice how everything is becoming paler and creamier. What you do is emulsifying oil and water (in the form of lemon juice and drippings from the eggplants).
Transfer to a serving plate and dig in. No, wait. Don’t forget to garnish it with some parsley, chives, or scallions, drizzle with some olive oil, scatter some roasted nuts or seeds of pomegranate. Now it’s ready.