Latterly, when faced with dilemma of where to dip, I have found myself increasingly reaching for the smoky goodness of baba ganoush over its equally enjoyable bedfellow hummus.
Like so many Levantine wonders, it is difficult to place an exact origin. Whether you know it as mutabal, eggplant salad or baba ganoush – there is little arguing with the glories of this smoky aubergine dish. We’ve tried a host of different baba ganoush recipes but this remains our favourite – finished with chopped smoked almonds for added smoke and texture, this is the perfect companion to your toasted pita.
THE BABA GANOUSH
2 Large Aubergines, about 800g
2 tbsp. Tahini,
2 tbsp. Olive Oil,
1 Small Garlic Clove, minced
Juice of ½ a Lemon
1 tsp. Ground Cumin
1 tsp. Ground Coriander
Pinch of Salt & Pepper
25g Smoked Almonds, roughly chopped
Parsley, a few leaves
THE BABA GANOUSH
Place a griddle pan over a high heat and allow it to heat up to a very high temperature. Prick the aubergines several times with a sharp knife and place onto the hot grill. Cook on all sides until they are really blackened and charred on all sides with the skin even flaking off in places.
TIP – As a general rule, when you think they are done, cook them for longer! You want the aubergine to be virtually collapsing in on itself. Cooking times will vary depending on the size and thickness of your aubergines. Expect 15 minutes at the very least for 2 large aubergines.
Transfer the charred aubergines to a bowl and cover with cling-film for about 20 minutes. The aubergines will steam a little and continue to cook as they cool. This process will also ensure all the smoky, charred flavour is retained in the flesh. Once cool enough to handle, halve the aubergines lengthways and strip out all the flesh from the skin.
Place aubergine flesh into a fine-mesh sieve and salt generously. Leave to stand over a bowl for 30 minutes. Once strained, squeeze and press the flesh gently against the mesh, extracting as much remaining moisture from the aubergine as possible.
TIP – I prefer Baba Ganoush to have some texture and variety and chope the flesh finely with a sharp knife, before incorporating in the remaining ingredients. If you prefer your Baba Ganoush smooth, simply transfer the remaining ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth.
Transfer the strained aubergine to a chopping board and finely chop the flesh until well broken down into a lightly textured pulp.
In a large bowl, add the tahini, lemon juice, minced garlic and ground spices. Whisk together until pale and emulsified. Add the aubergine into the bowl and whisk together with the tahini mixture. Finally, add the olive oil and whisk together until fully incorporated.
Transfer the Baba Ganoush to a shallow bowl or plate. Top with the smoked almonds and a few parsley leaves. Serve at room temperature.
TIP – This should keep in the fridge for several days.