Veggie Friendly » Blog Archive » Weekend Herb Blogging - Baba Ghanoush
Apr
15
Filed by Kate Pounder on 15-04-2007

I rarely enter food blogging events because I run out of time to source special ingredients or make recipes to a theme. However, there is one event, Weekend Herb Blogging started by Kalyn at Kalyn’s Kitchen, which I’ve always admired because it celebrates vegetables, herbs and plants. That makes my life easy because I can blog about the food I cook naturally. This week’s event is hosted by Haalo at the great Melbourne food blog Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once, so remember to check her site for the full round-up.

For my inaugural entry I’m writing about one of my favourite vegetables, the eggplant or aubergine, and a simple, classic dish that showcases it to perfection: baba ghanoush.

Baba ghanoush

I started with this recipe at About Kosher foods then tweaked it:

Ingredients

1 large eggplant
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tblsp. of olive oil
2 tblsp of lemon juice
2 tbspl of tahini
1 tbsp of chopped mint
1/2 tsp cumin
salt
pepper

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Prick the eggplants skin with a fork, then bake in the oven for 50 minutes. The skin will shrivel. Remove it from the oven and place it in a bowl of cold water. When the skin has cooled (won’t take long), remove it from the bowl and peel the skin.

Oven baked eggplant

Place the eggplant flesh in a food processor or blender. Add the garlic and olive oil. Mincing the garlic is important, otherwise you can end up with chunks in your dip. Add half the lemon juice and tahini. Blend the ingredients until the consistency is smooth. Taste the dip, and add the remaining lemon and tahini to taste. Blend, then add the cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Serve fresh with hot bread, or fresh vegetable sticks.

Baba ghanoush

Some comments on this recipe

  • Baba ghanoush is one of those dishes where you need to make it repeatedly to work out the mix of ingredients that suits your tastes. I followed the original recipe and added the full amount of tahini and lemon upfront, but thought that the tahini was too strong in the end product. I would normally add the tahini and the lemon gradually so I can get the balance of ingredients right. Andy thought this blend was sublime and disagreed that the quantaties needed tweaking - so perhaps find a volunteer to help with the taste testing.
  • When I make dips with tahini I like to add the salt etc. at the end so I can get the balance of lemon and tahini right first and use the spices to bring out the favour.
  • Because I forgot to buy fresh lemons, I cheated and added fake lemon juice. It’s just not as good as the real thing in fresh dips so put the fresh lemons on your shopping list!
  • There are endless variations to this dip - using parsley, shallots, tomatoes, feta, sour cream or different spices.
  • The only reason I’ve never made baba ghanoush in the past is that I thought you needed to char-grill the eggplant, and our grill is not up to the challenge. However, it was fine baked in the oven.

The eggplant

The eggplant is native to India where it’s known as brinjal. It’s a credit to the taste and flexibility of the eggplant that it has since spread throughout the world, and has become an essential ingredient in national dishes as far afield as Greece, the Middle East, Indonesia and China.

One reason for its success is that the eggplant’s flesh is adept at soaking in flavours and oils. This makes it an excellent ingredient in vegetarian cooking, where it serves a similar purpose to meat in stews, stir-frys and casseroles. The trick is that the eggplant must be properly cooked - raw, the flesh is bitter, tougher to bite, and unpleasant to eat.

One common technique is to degorge the eggplant (cutting it open, sprinkling the flesh with salt, then letting it stand for 15 - 20 minutes to remove the moisture). I used to degorge eggplants as a matter of course because I was frightened that if I didn’t they wouldn’t cook properly. However, I now realise that it depends on the recipe. As a rule of thumb, if I’m cooking the eggplant in a liquid (i.e. soup or stew) I never degorge, and otherwise I do it only if called for in the recipe. It is not necessary when you bake the eggplant for baba ghanoush.

The eggplant is related to the tomato and potato (although these originated from South America).

In Western countries the most common types of eggplant are the large, ovoid and the longer, slim varieties, however in India and Southern Asia there are many more variants that range from white, green and purple in colour.

It’s Australian, US and Canadian name is thanks to the smaller, white varieties, which look egg-like.

Further resources

Wikipedia - Eggplant and Baba Ghanoush
Gourmet Sleuth
Growing eggplants



Comments:
4 Comments posted on "Weekend Herb Blogging - Baba Ghanoush"
Ramya on April 16th, 2007 at 5:04 am #

So interesting .I too thought about the naming of veggies like eggplant for brinjal.I happenned to buy white eggplant also.But still name is still mysterious to compare with egg like.Here canadian and american have mostly oblong like shaped .still don’t know why it is called eggplant.Nice to have a vegetarian blog from you.Its very rare to find like yours.
You see my entry in thise weekend herb blogging


Helene on April 16th, 2007 at 7:56 pm #

What an yummy dip!! A have try to me and thanks for the additional information!!


Kalyn on April 20th, 2007 at 12:39 pm #

I love the sound of this. Your method of roasting the eggplant whole sounds like a great one too. Welcome to WHB!


kpounder on April 22nd, 2007 at 9:48 pm #

Hi Ramya - I guess “eggplant” is a good example of the pervesity of names. Even when they don’t make sense they still stick. I’m glad you like vegetarian blogs!

Hi Helene - thanks for your comment.

Hi Kalyn - it’s so sweet that you’ve stopped by to wish me a happy first WHB. I was inspired to make baba ghanoush by roasting eggplant by a taxi driver who recently gave me a lift. Lovely guy and obviously a good cook! Such a great idea for a food event.


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