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Monday, January 10, 2011

Baba Ganoush

Baba ghanoush, baba ganush, baba ghannouj or baba ghannoug is an Arab dish of aubergine (eggplant) mashed and mixed with various seasonings. A popular preparation method is for the eggplant to be baked or broiled over an open flame before peeling, so that the pulp is soft and has a smoky taste. Often, it is eaten as a dip with khubz or pita bread, and is sometimes added to other dishes. It is usually of an earthy light-brown color.

Around the world:

It is popular in the Levant and Egypt. In some parts of the Levant, baba ghanoush is a starter or appetizer; in Egypt it is mostly served as a side-dish or salad. It is made of aubergine with finely diced onions, tomatoes, and other vegetables blended in. It is normally served with a dressing of oil and pomegranate concentrate. It is made of roasted, peeled, and mashed aubergine, blended with tahini, garlic, salt, white vinegar and lemon juice. Cumin and chili powder can be added. A similar dish is known as mutabbal in the Levant. In the traditional method, the eggplant is first roasted in an oven for approximately 30 minutes. The softened flesh is scooped out, squeezed to remove excess water, and is then pureed with the tahini.

There are many variants of the recipe, especially the seasoning. Seasonings include garlic, lemon juice, ground cumin, salt, mint, and parsley. When served on a plate or bowl, it is traditional to drizzle the top with olive oil.

It is eaten in Turkey, where it is sometimes called patlıcan salatası (meaning "eggplant salad"). Patlıcan salatası is made with mashed eggplants while baba ghanoush is cut not mashed.

In Greece, it is called melitzanosalata (meaning "eggplant salad").

An Israeli variation of the salad is made with mayonnaise. There is also Bulgarian eggplant salad/spread, called kiopolu.

Indian Baingan Bartha (recipe on this blog) is a dish similar to baba ghanoush. It is similarly prepared by grilling eggplant over open charcoal flame to impart a smoky flavor to the flesh. It is then cooked with an assortment of spices, tomatoes, garlic, and onions. It is commonly served with breads like paratha, roti, and naan.

In West India, yogurt and chopped onion are added to roasted eggplant along with various seasonings. The dish, typically served as a side, is called Bharta.

In Romania, the eggplant spread is called "Salată de vinete" (eggplant salad). The eggplants are prepared and cooked the same as the above (roasted over open-flame fire or oven). Then they are peeled, drained very well, chopped with a special wide-blade wooden knife "tocator de vinete"(resembles a meat cleaver, but a bit smaller). It is said that the eggplant is not to touch metal in the process. But with the convenience of the food processors chopping and mixing, people nowadays stray from the old ways. After finely chopping the eggplants into a paste, seasonings are added and everything mixed together: salt, ground black pepper, (olive) oil, and finely chopped onion (grated). A variant is replacing the onion with garlic "mujdei de usturoi". But the traditional recipe calls for onion. It is served (spread) on a slice of bread. Traditionally the chopped onion is served separately and mixed at the table by each guest. The light color of the spread and the absence of seeds are most appreciated.

In Palestinian homes, it is made with "wild" eggplants known as baladi, from the Arabic meaning 'of the earth.' It is made with tehina, olive oil, lemon and parsley.

Here is How I make it:


• 2 medium eggplants
• 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
• ½ cup of boiled garbanzo beans from can
• ½ cup lemon or fresh lime juice
• ½ cup of Tahini
• ¼ cup of sour cream or plain yogurt
• 6 cloves of garlic
• 1 small yellow onion
• ¾ teaspoon of roasted cumin powder
• 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds (optional)
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• ¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley (I prefer cilantro)
• 1 jalapeno pepper (optional, but gives a little kick to the recipe)
• Pinch of Paprika powder for garnish


• Preheat oven to broil.

• Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

• Place egg plants on baking sheet.

• Brush vegetable oil on both egg plants coating them evenly with oil.

• Place the eggplants in oven and broil on high for 20-25 min turning them occasionally.

• Once the skin is charred and starts breaking, remove eggplants from oven.

• Let them cool and peel the skin off.

• Chop and grind garlic, jalapeno, onion, lemon or lime juice, sour cream/yogurt and garbanzo bean in food processor to paste.

• Add cilantro and grind some more.

• Add broiled eggplants, Tahini, sesame seeds, cumin powder, salt, and pepper.

• Grind the eggplants with garlic onion paste to desired consistency.

• Transfer the mix in a serving bowl.

• Drizzle the olive oil.

• Sprinkle paprika powder to garnish.

• Refrigerate for couple of hours before serving.

• Serve the Baba Ganoush with warm pita bread.

Hint: You can roast the eggplant on open flame or grill, but I feel that broiling in oven is less messy process.

Baba Ganoush Description source:

Recipe modified by Surekha from various recipes of Baba by family and friends.
Photographs by Surekha.

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