Baba Ghanoush may well be one of my last meal requests. I love nothing more than sitting with friends in a Lebanese restaurant, subtly and politely fighting over bread and baba. I am silently competitively greedy and if I see that someone has had more baba than me, I make it as a life goal to rectify the situation.
The Sydney restaurant Al Aseel, a favourite restaurant of mine's baba is the finest I've tasted anywhere in the World. I don't know how they do it, but it so creamy, smoky, light and tart. I dream about the stuff. My version is nothing to disappoint so you don't need to book a trip to Sydney (although I would!).
The key to getting the essential smokiness is the initial cooking of the eggplant. I now cook mine on the BBQ as I don't have a gas stove, but using a gas stove is an option. The directions for both are in the description. If you don't have a gas stove or a BBQ, then use the grill of your oven and literally burn it (keep an eye on it!!). Failing that you COULD book a flight to Australia.
The results are nothing short of a miracle. Those who claimed to not like eggplant have been converts after eating this. You'll be surprised how different and how wonderful homemade baba ghanoush is over those insipid little cartons you buy at the supermarket. It's quite literally night and day.
After writing this recipe, I am missing Al Aseel! The baba! The Hummus! The Toum! The Shankleesh! The eggs! The everything... sad face.
How to make my Baba Ghanoush
- 2 medium eggplant/aubergine
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic (minced with 1/2 teaspoon salt)
- 1 lemon (juice of)
- 2 tbsp tahini paste
- 2 tbsp Greek style, plain yoghurt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + more for garnish
- Salt & pepper
- With a sharp knife, carefully stab each aubergine a couple of times to stop from exploding! It never has, but i'm not taking any chances. Place over a naked flame on the hob or on a hot BBQ. Cook the aubergine, turning regularly until all the skin is blackened and blistered. Alternatively, place under a hot grill until all the skin is blackened.
- The flesh underneath should be soft. It must feel squishy so keep cooking 'til it is. This could take anywhere between 10-20 minutes.
- Eggplant retains heat like nothing else so let them cool (trust me on this one - imagine no fingerprints hot). When cooled, peel off as much of the charred skin as you can, doesn't matter if there's a bit left attached, as it'll add flavour. Chop roughly and place in a bowl.
- Add the lemon juice, tahini and garlic and with either a fork, potato masher or a hand blender, blend to a medium chunky/creamy texture (if that makes sense?). Season well with salt & pepper and stir in the olive oil and yoghurt to form a creamy texture. Cover and leave at room temperature - I think it's better eaten this way.
- If you make in advance - refrigerate, but bring up to room temp for an hour before serving. Serve it alongside the essential flatbreads for scooping and dipping with other Middle Eastern delights, like grilled lamb or chicken with a tomato salad, beetroot salad, hummus and fatuoush.
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