Baba Ghanoush, the Smoky Cousin of Hummus
By: Blanche Shaheen/Arab America Contributing Writer
Hummus gets so much attention and glory. Restaurants feature the dip mixed with every vegetable under the sun, ranging from sun-dried tomatoes to red peppers. School children now eat hummus and crackers as a lunch addition without a second thought. Nutritionists recommend hummus as a healthy snack for nearly every diet imaginable. But there is one cousin to hummus that is just as delicious but barely gets any love, and that is baba ghanoush.
Baba ghanoush is at once silky in texture and smoky in flavor, versatile with fancy accompaniments from seeded crackers to fresh baguette slices. However, traditional Arabs from the Levant eat baba ghanoush for breakfast with pita bread and a variety of pickles and vegetables. When choosing eggplant, it should be firm and not too large. The length of an English cucumber and the general circumference of a large pear should be about right. This dip can be dressed up for fancy occasions, served on baguette slices and topped with roasted peppers and walnuts, or packed into a picnic basket with pita chips for non-perishable summer lunch. You can also serve this as a sandwich spread as a replacement for standard mustard or mayonnaise.
To see the easy technique and serving suggestions of Baba Ghanoush, click on the video below:
1 large or 2 small eggplants
Juice of 1 lemon, to taste
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup tahini
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Liquid smoke, optional
½ cup fresh chopped parsley
Pita bread, for serving
Cut the eggplant in half and place cut side down on oiled baking sheet. Bake at 500 degrees until tender when pierced with a knife, about 10 minutes each side for a total of 20 minutes. You can also char the eggplant on an outdoor grill for a smoky flavor.
Let the eggplant cool to room temperature by placing the eggplant into a strainer over a bowl, to allow the excess juices to drip down into the bowl. This takes away any bitterness. Discard the juices. Peel the eggplant once it has cooled off, and mash in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk the tahini with the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt. Mash together the eggplant and the tahini mixture and parsley. Make sure it’s well incorporated by using a fork. For a smokier flavor, add a drop of liquid smoke. To serve, place the baba ghanoush in a bowl and drizzle with more olive oil. Serve with pita wedges, crackers, or baguette slices.
Blanche Shaheen is a journalist, food writer, and host of the cooking show called Feast in the Middle East. She specializes in Arab cuisine of the Levant and beyond. You can check out her cooking video tutorials and cultural commentary on growing up Arab American at https://www.youtube.com/user/blanchetv Her recipes can also be found at: https://feastinthemiddleeast.wordpress.com/