NOT SO TRADITIONAL BABA GHANOUJ

NOT SO TRADITIONAL BABA GHANOUJ

When I was little, probably the age my daughter is now, my grandmother brought home a couple of aubergines (aka eggplants). This was the first time we met, me and aubergine of course. My grandmother did what all Czech people do to vegetables, she breaded it and fried it, schnitzel style. I remember not really enjoying the aubergine.

That night, I had a dream, you might call it a nightmare (it was for a seven year old girl). In this dream I was chased by a gigantic aubergine. Yes you can laugh but this traumatic experience caused me not to eat aubergines for many years (or maybe it was the fact that I didn’t enjoy it?).

Many years later, in my 20’s, I had an aubergine again and I have never looked back. It is definitely the vegetable I would take with me onto a dessert island. It is incredibly versatile, an amazing base for many veggie meals, it feels and taste substantial. If cooked properly it is beautifully silky and takes on all the flavors it has been cooked with.

It is very easy to cook aubergines wrong, I have been served undercooked inedible aubergines in restaurants (and I always let them know!). Don’t serve an aubergine unless it is squashed easily under very little pressure with a wooden spoon or a fork. It needs to be melt in your mouth, soft and silky.

Here is one of my favorite aubergine recipes, baba ghanouj (or baba ghanoush). It is popular in many Middle Eastern countries, you can find it in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and via Turkey even in Bulgaria. Traditionally this recipe is made with lashings of olive oil, but I love my oil free version. If you really wish you can always drizzle a bit of good quality extra virgin olive oil over the top to make it more authentic.

Baba ghanouj is perfect for a mezze meal, light lunch or just as a dip with some pitta chips and a nice glass of wine. I believe this is a recipe to serve to an aubergine hater, just don’t divulge the main ingredient.

babaghanouj


NOT SO TRADITIONAL BABA GHANOUJ

ingredients
2 aubergines (medium to large)
1 Tbs tahini
juice of 1 lemon (or to taste)
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt
handful of parsley, finely chopped

method
  1. First prepare the aubergine. Leave the aubergines whole just prick several times with a point of a sharp knife (this will prevent any possible explosions). If you are using a grill (broiler) preheat it to its highest setting, place aubergine onto a aluminium foil lined baking tray and place the aubergine about 1 inch away from the grill. You can also use your gas hob, place the aubergine straight over the flames. I do prefer the grill method, you get a more evenly cooked aubergine.
  2. Turn the aubergines often and cooked until the aubergine collapses. Feel the aubergine using tongs, it should feel very soft when squeezed gently. The skin should be charred. Under the grill it should take about 20-30min.
  3. Let the aubergine cool.
  4. When the aubergine has cooled down, slit the skin down lengthways and scoop the soft flesh out, discard the skin. Place the flesh into a food processor.
  5. Add the tahini and garlic and process until you get a puree with still few chunks left in it (no baby food).
  6. Add the lemon and salt to taste and chopped parsley. Place in a serving bowl.
  7. If you really have to you can drizzle some olive oil, but other great toppings are cumin, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts or paprika.
  8. Enjoy!

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