Sunday, 18 July 2010

Baba Ghanoush

As Vienna is currently besieged by a heat wave (and 36°C + humidity qualifies as a heatwave when you live in a city with hardly ANY air-conditioning) and LIGHT cooking is the order.

Baba Ghanoush, or Baba Ghanouj, apparently means something like 'Daddy's little girl' or 'Daddy's darling' in Arabic.  It is an integral element of a Meze, a selection of appetizer dishes that is very popular in the Eastern Mediterranean and the equivalent of the Spanish tapas.

This is a great recipe for having people over as it can be made a day or two ahead. And the taste gets even better if you keep it in the fridge for a day before serving.

Ingredients (makes about 3 cups)
  • 4 medium-sized aubergines (eggplant)
  • 1/2 cup tahina
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 handful parsley leaves, or half/half parsley and coriander (cilantro) + some more to serve
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 230°C
  2. Prick the aubergines with a fork, place on a non-stick baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until they have collapsed a bit and are completely soft (when inserting a knife you should feel ANY resistance)
  3. Leave the aubergines to cool on for about 15 minutes then cut them open lengthwise, scoop out the flesh with a spoon and squeeze to remove excess water
  4. Puree in a food processor together with the tahina until smooth
  5. Add the lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and parsley leaves and process until combined
  6. Keep the food processor going on the lowest setting and slowly add the olive oil to the mixture until it's creamy
  7. Chill in the fridge for at least a couple of hours
  8. Spoon onto a shallow bowl or plate and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with finely chopped parsley and dot with black olives for garnish. Serve with fresh pita bread, pita chips or any other bread of choice.
Bil hana washifa!
    Tips for adapting
    For a more smokey taste you could also barbecue the aubergines.  You start by turning them over the grill until they're blackened all around. Then let them grill until collapsed and cooked through, i.e. completely soft.

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