Baba Ghanoush (Roasted Eggplant Dip)
This rich and delicious Baba Ghanoush is a Middle Eastern classic and the perfect appetizer for any occasion! My version is creamy and indulgent with the addition of sour cream (or yogurt) and roasted garlic.
Today’s post is a part of the series “Things I used to hate so much”. ???
I can’t begin to tell you how much I hated eggplants. Because it was A WHOLE LOT! Which is funny, because my parents love anything with eggplants: eggplant parmigiana, eggplant pizza, eggplant antipasto, and – of course – Baba Ghanoush!
Once I started to go deep into my food blog journey, I realized I had to be more open to trying new things. I’m still really picky regarding meat and I won’t eat any seafood (I know! Please don’t unfriend me!), but I figured I had to like all vegetables to feel like a professional food blogger.
So I took the challenge to work my way into liking things I used to hate: eggplants, mushrooms, green beans, bell peppers and zucchini, just to name a few. Okay, maybe I didn’t completely hate zucchini, but I always thought it was super bland, aka not worthy of my attention.
My whole experiment was a success and I now love each one of these vegetables. The secret? Butter and/or garlic. Like, seriously, what’s better than mushrooms sautéed in butter? Or green beans sautéd in butter AND garlic? I’m telling you, if you dislike a food item, just add butter and garlic and you’re all set. Unless you dislike garlic… Then, my friend, I cannot help you. GARLIC IS LIFE! ❤️
Once I got accustomed to my new eggplant love, it was only a matter of time until my garlic obsessed self would fall in love with Baba Ghanoush.
In fact, I remember exactly the day it happened. I was at work and one of my coworkers, who happens to be Lebanese, brought in some Baba Ghanoush that she got at an Middle Eastern store in Brooklyn. At that time, I was already enjoying eggplants, especially in the form of Italian antipasto. However, what remained of the eggplant hater in me was skeptical about trying it.
I resisted for a while, but hunger got the best of me, and when faced with the decision between trying the dreaded eggplant dip or eating yet another pack of M&M’s, I decided to go for the dip.
Holy Cow! That thing was amazing. What should have been me trying something that a coworker politely offered, ended up being me eating one chip dipped into that luscious God-sent spread after the other until there was none left.
If you’re a food nerd like me, here’s your daily dose of food history: Baba Ghanoush (sometimes spelled Baba Ganoush) is a popular meze (starter) in several Middle Eastern countries, made with roasted eggplants, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil.
The Arabic word “baba” means daddy and “ghanoush” means spoiled or pampered. So “Baba Ghanoush” = “Spoiled Daddy”. I don’t know about you, but I’m having a hell of a kick of this inappropriate name! ? My little research didn’t go too far, but chances are the name references to its supposed invention by a member of a royal harem. Maybe the spoiled daddy was a sultan? Who knows? Some sources even alert you not to use that name if you’re ever at a traditional Arabic family gathering, using “badenjan mutabbal” (eggplant dip) instead.
I have no idea how true that is, since I have a few Lebanese friends who say “Baba Ghanoush” without any hesitation. However, if I’m ever in the Middle East, I’ll make sure to ask before I offend anyone by saying “GIVE ME LOTS OF BABA GHANOUSH!”
I tried my best to stay as authentic as possible, but couldn’t resist making a few modifications to the traditional recipe.
First, I roasted my garlic. I mean, it is easier to just add raw garlic, but since I was using the oven to roast the eggplants, I thought: “Why not?”. And it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life, or at least in the kitchen! The roasted garlic adds an extra layer of richness/sweetness and makes this Baba Ghanoush worthy of a standing ovation. ???
However, when you roast the garlic, you lose its “spiciness”. So what does one do? Add cayenne pepper to the dip, of course. A little goes a long way and 1/4 teaspoon was enough to give me the heat I was seeking. But feel free to add as little or as much as you’d like. Or just omit it altogether if you’re not into spicy food.
Finally, because I like my Baba Ghanoush to be very smooth and creamy, I added a little sour cream, but you can also use yogurt or even mayo. For a vegan version, just skip the cream, but make sure you try to squeeze as much water as possible from your eggplants flesh so your dip is still rich and creamy.
Now all that is left to do is get some pita bread or pita chips and dig in! I usually serve my Baba Ghanoush as a dip, but you can also make open-faced sandwiches or even pizza.
Not an eggplant lover? No problem! Try this recipe and watch the magic happen.
- 3 medium eggplants
- 3 cloves of garlic, roasted (or 1 clove of raw garlic)
- Juice of one lemon, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons tahini, or to taste
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons sour cream or greek yogurt
- Chopped parsley or mint to garnish (optional)
Poking VS Not poking - You want to get rid of as much moisture as you can before processing your dip. Eggplants cooked without pricking the skin lose about 10% more of its water weight on average then pricked eggplant. However, the steam will build up some pressure, which you lead to the eggplant skin to pop with an audible bang, so the steam can escape. If that freaks you out, go ahead and poke your eggplants all over with a fork before roasting.
For a vegan version, omit the cream.
To avoid bitterness, choose male eggplants over females. They have less seeds and that's what makes eggplants bitter. Don't know the difference? Look at the bottom! If there is a brown circle it is a male. If there is a long brown mark (like a slash) then it is female.
For this recipe, I recommend:
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