Eggplant, aubergine, melanzane, squash … whatever you call it it’s delicious, and it is the central ingredient in my favourite dip in the world.
I’ve always loved Baba Ghannouj, enjoying it at Greek restaurants or bought from delicatessens at home in Adelaide. Then I learnt how to make it. The recipe proved to be incredibly simple and delicious … way too delicious. Now I always make at least a double quantity so that there is plenty to go around. Seriously, I have an addiction.
Anyway, this recipe is based on one from The Complete Middle East Cookbook by Tess Mallos. This was first published in Sydney in 1979.
1 medium-sized eggplant
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 clove garlic, very finely grated, chopped or crushed
1/4 cup lemon juice
Salt to taste
Olive oil, around 1 tablespoon
Grill the eggplant until very soft and blackened all over. Ideally this should be done over a charcoal fire, but those of you who don’t have a fire BBQ handy, or who live in a fire-ban zone, can cook the eggplant on a gas BBQ or in an oven. You’ll miss out on the smoky element, but you also won’t start a bushfire.
While the eggplant are still hot, peel away the skin and stem of the eggplant and discard them.
At this point you have a choice – chunky or smooth? Make your decision and process the flesh of the eggplant accordingly. I tend to go for a chunkier Baba, so I just give the flesh a good chop on a board and then throw it in the serving bowl.
Add the tahini, parsley and garlic. Mix well. Now you’re in a balancing game. Add olive oil, salt and lemon juice bit-by-bit until you get the perfect balance of flavours.
Serve with an extra sprinkle of parsley and a light slaking of olive oil. Make sure you pull your hands away from the bowl quickly as you’re serving this – hungry crowds are liable to take a finger off in their rush to get into the bowl.
Or you can just keep it all for yourself …