Baba Gannouj, the incredibly simple and delicious Lebanese eggplant dip, is seasoned with garlic and tahini–a perfect dip for pita chips and vegetables.

If you are one of what now seems to be the very few people stateside who has weather that permits you to walk from your back door to the grill:

God bless you. You are going to have a smokey baba gannouj of the best sort.

For the rest of us, there is second best. There is inside, at the stove. A gas flame, over which eggplant is carefully, slowly roasted, makes good baba.

Then there is yet another tier for those of us without gas flames, the way it was in my Sitto’s kitchen and still is in my mother’s: there is the broiler. Sitto reached in there with her incredibly adept fingers that met no heat they couldn’t take, and got her well-chosen (firm, not too wide) eggplant going. She flipped it barehanded; she pulled it out with the bare hands and sort of threw it onto the kitchen counter as if to say: Take that, you hot smokey eggplant. I am Sitto, and I am in charge.

This Sitto-strength, in a phrase, is what I aspire to every day.

Now, I can’t say that I’ll be watching football this Sunday, and not because I feel the need to be countercultural, but really just because watching football on television holds no interest for me. Basketball, ok. Tennis, fine. Football, and I’m face-planted in my laptop or a magazine or just stepped out of the room for a bit to take care of something in the kitchen (that lasts a few hours). Call me when the commercials are on.

But the food for the Superbowl that is taking over my online world this week, and yours too if you follow anything food, is fascinating and fun. I’d love to know who makes buffalo chicken wings at home, and then I’d like to get myself invited over.

Even though I may not care who wins the game (I can tell you who’s playing, I can: Broncos vs. Seahawks. Did I just do a quick search to be sure I was correct even though it’s been splashed across every news outlet for a couple of weeks, yes, but still), I care about joining the conversation about the occasion, and what is great to serve to your friends and family when they come over to watch–most especially, dips.

From my recipe coffers, try:

Muhammara, red pepper-walnut dip
Hummus or hummus kwarma
Labneh, with a mix in of dried crushed mint and garlic

and

Baba Gannouj, smokey eggplant dip

Baba means father in Arabic (and I loved calling my dad that)—so just for the reference to Dad alone do I love baba gannouj, notwithstanding the fabulous flavor of roasted eggplant mashed up with tahini and lemon and garlic.

But also there is that strong memory of Sitto and her hot charred eggplant, her early message to me that seems befitting of anyone who sets out to be a winner, a message of control, of determination, of Sitto game-on.

Baba Gannouj

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6
Recipe by: Maureen Abood

Select eggplant that is very firm when squeezed, and fairly narrow, which often means fewer seeds. The bitter baba you may have had now and then is attributable to the cook not removing the seeds from the eggplant before mashing it up. Do that, and you’ll have a much different baba gannouj on your plate than you would otherwise. Use at least two eggplants, since removing the seeds reduces the amount of eggplant you have left to work with. Don’t skip the pomegranate seeds if at all possible; they add beautiful color to the dip and a delicious tart flavor too.

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Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Char the eggplant by poking a few holes in them with a knife or skewer (so the skin won’t burst). Cook them on a hot barbecue, a low flame on the gas burner, or under the broiler. If you’re broiling the eggplant, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet a few inches under the broiler. Whatever the heat source, turn the eggplants over halfway through cooking (use tongs) to char them evenly. When the skin is blistered and the eggplant is very soft, remove them from the heat. Under the broiler this takes about 30 minutes.

  2. When they are cool enough to handle, peel the skin off with your fingers and cut away the stem end. Open the eggplant and pull out the lines of seeds, and discard them.

  3. Chop or mash the eggplant until it forms a dip-like texture. In a bowl, combine the eggplant with the tahini, salt, garlic, lemon juice, and black pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings, then spoon the baba gannouj onto a plate. Make some swirls in the eggplant with the back of the spoon, and drizzle olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, and serve with pita chips, crackers, vegetables.

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17 Responses to "Baba Gannouj Recipe, a super bowl…"
  1. I never get that smokey or charred flavor when I do Baba Gannouj…well now I think I will….I always roasted the eggplant in the oven but not under the broiler….who knew?? You did!! The best Bab Gannouj I have ever had (in a Restaurant) was in Brighton, MI. Not sure if the restaurant is still there, but it sure was the best. On to your recipe….yiiipppeee!

  2. Can never have enough eggplant in any form-remember this so well from my Mother’s kitchen–and my Dad grilling it outside or my Mom on top of the stove–either way, charred to perfection!

  3. that is,”My Mom grilling it on top of the stove!”

  4. Rosemary says:

    “I’d love to know who makes buffalo chicken wings at home, and then I’d like to get myself invited over.”

    Consider yourself invited. My husband is from Buffalo: he grills (even in the winter, too messy to do it any other way), I sauce, everyone eats too many. With beer. Usually during a basketball game (ND vs Marquette use to be a favorite.)

    Rosemary

  5. Linda says:

    Thank you, Maureen, for the wonderful–and meaningful–quote! I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog and using your recipes to make delicious food.

    Many, many thanks,

    Linda

  6. Kate says:

    I’ve tried a couple baba gannouj recipes and this one is easily the best…and I didn’t even use the grill! I’ll be sure to try that when the weather is better. Also discovered that my cocktail muddler is an excellent way to get a good consistency for the dip, haha! Thanks for the fantastic recipe!!

  7. Ruhana Hamood says:

    Hi Maureen
    I’m loving your recipes and your blog. It brings back my childhood memories of lovely food my mum and her Arabic friends made. I’m a huge fan of Lebanese and Arabic food. Every time I read your blogand recipes it makes me hungry and literally lick my fingers. Thank you for such delicious read.

  8. Marianna Kiva says:

    Hello Maureen,
    I have been following your recipes and the blog. I have loved adding a bit of tangy yogurt to the hummus. I , also, added a A few tablespoons of pressed yoghurt to the baba ghanouj. It took the dip to a new level. Thank you for sharing your expertise and recipes with all of us.

  9. Paul says:

    My Sitto would use a colendar to strain out the seeds. I find it gives the baba a nice texture without the bitterness of the seeds.

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