The first time I came across Baba Ganouj ( Pronounced "Ga-NOOSH" )was in BASHA, a Greek restaurant in Rochester, NY-where they had accidentally brought this onto our table instead of Hummus. One taste of the stuff and I knew that it was surely smoked brinjal and not chickpeas that I was tasting.
Baba Ganouj is a classic Mediterranean eggplant dip. It's silky, smokey and bursting with flavour. Here goes my version :
1 mid-sized eggplant / brinjal
2 tbsp sesame seeds- roasted
4 fat cloves of garlic
2 tbsp thick yogurt
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp freshly minced parsely / coriander
1. Roasting the brinjal- Doing it on a direct flame or the grill gives the best smokey taste.
Place the brinjal on a medium flame, and rotate regularly so that the skin gets evenly blistered. It will take about 10-12 min for the entire brinjal to get roasted and soft from within.
However you can roast it on a lightly greased baking sheet by slitting it in half lengthwise at 350 F. I prefer to broil rather than bake, for that browning effect.
Peel off the blistered skin, chop roughly and keep aside.
2.Assembling the ingredients- In a blender, roughly grind the roasted sesame seeds. Then add the chopped roasted brinjal and all other ingredients except parsely/ coriander and olive oil. Blend to a smooth paste.
3. Finale-Remove the paste onto a shallow dish. Mix in the olive oil. Garnish with minced parsely / coriander and a swirl of some more olive oil.
Serve the chilled Baba Ganouj with warm pita bread brushed with olive oil. If pita bread is not readily available, you can either serve it with toasted slices of a whole wheat bread / foccasia or whole wheat crackers.
Last evening, I served it to my guests with wedges of garlic bread toasted till warm. They loved it!
The original recipe calls for Tahini, which a sesame seed paste in olive oil. Since Tahini is not easily available in grocery stores in India, I ground roasted sesame seeds along with other ingredients. I did not find much of a taste deviation from the original.
Al Fez brand of Tahini is now available in most supermarkets in cities, such as Nature's Basket.