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Sauces #3: baba ganoush/baba ghanouj

What is the "real" recipe? Or what is essential and what is optional to make a good, tasty and reasonably "authentic" version? What are the best uses? Thanks.

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  1. Here's my recipe. In my world, baba ghanooj should be smokey-tasting (so I barbecue until blackened) and not too smooth. I prefer the texture of fork-mashed and I like it nice and lemony. This one is a very traditional version. There are many many twists on it.

    1 medium eggplant
    1/4 cup tahini
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    1-2 cloves garlic, squished
    Salt to taste
    Olive oil (optional)

    Prick eggplant all over with a forkand either bake at 450o F (230o C), for about 1 hour, until blackened and soft. Or place the eggplant the barbecue, and cook, turning once or twice, until charred and soft. The barbecue method will produce a smokier taste.

    Cut a slit down the length of the eggplant, scoop the mushy insides into a bowl and mash with a fork. Add all the rest of the ingredients, mixing well with a fork. This can be done in a food processor, if you prefer, but be careful not to overprocess the mixture - it should have a little texture.

    Spoon the baba ghanouj into a bowl, drizzle olive oil over the top, if you like, and serve with pita bread.

    Makes about 2 cups (500 mL).

    3 Replies
    1. re: Nyleve

      Excellent recipe and a success especially for my first attempt. I added a little more lemon juice based on my taste and wished I used a bit less tahini (wow, it is surprisingly peanut butter-like IMO) so in the future will finesse the tahini. Also like the idea of leaving the grilled eggplant in a colander. Much appreciated as are all the comments. We did use it as a dip rather than a sauce (but then it would have been Dip #1 rather than Sauce #3).

      1. re: Tom Hall

        Good to hear you liked it. Lemon juice, garlic, tahini - they're all open to personal interpretation. Enjoy!

      2. re: Nyleve

        Nyleve, Thanks for this recipe. I excluded the tahini and it was still fantastic.


      3. The recipe above looks good. I think I make mine with a little less lemon juice and a little more tahini. The most import facet of 'authentic' babaganoush is that the garlic should really 'pop.' More than 'pop' actually, burn. If the garlic doesn't burn your mouth, it isn't authentic.

        And I definitely would never classify this as a sauce. It's a dip.

        5 Replies
        1. re: scott123


          I agree with you that Baba is a condiment or dip rather than a sauce.

          However, I don't believe that garlic should be the dominant ingredient.

          I learned my baba from my friend's Lebanese mother, and that is not how she made it at all.

          Since eggplant is a naturally bitter vegetable, the substantial amount of lemon (acid) is necessary to round out the overall flavor.

          1. re: bogie

            Just wondering...can I use zuchinni in place of the eggplant? You would not believe how much squash I have! Maybe you would.

            1. re: melly

              I would never have even thought about doing that but why not give it a shot? I mean, it's absolutely not going to be an authentic baba ghanooj, but it could possibly be good anyway. Hint: grill zukes, chop finely and press out excess water before mixing with other ingredients. Let us know if you try this.

              1. re: Nyleve

                I am going to do it..and I'll let you know how it turns out..and thanks for the grilling and de-liquiding suggestions.

                1. re: Nyleve

                  Today is the day...I am doing baba with zuchinni. The grill is fired up and I will roast first. Baba Zughanooj!

          2. From a Lebanese friend:

            Hummus loves garlic, but too much garlic can ruin a baba... i always put in less ingredients (except eggplant of course) than I think I will need and then add to taste. I always use the BBQ method

            1. From an Egyptian friend:

              .....Add more garlic!

              Hmmmm... maybe in different parts of the Middle East they treat their baba differently. My Egyptian friends and the Egyptian restaurants I've frequented in NYC all use napalm levels of garlic in their baba (and relatively little in their hummous).

              And yes, baba isn't nearly as good without the smokey note of the grill. You can get some char with a broiler, but not nearly as much smokeyness as with a grill.

              1. Not sure where you're located Tom but, I go to my local persian/armenian market purchase a good hummus then at home grill egpplants whole on the BBQ. Once cooled somewhat, I wash off the skin and slice/shred/chunk up the eggplant and add to the already made hummus. That's it! The hummus has to be really good tho- mucho garlic, thick and very fresh. Once assembled, drizzle a bit of EVOO on top and wella! No effort at all. Fab on lavosh, pita and this wonderful Lebonese bread with sesame that I buy that's made/baked on stone walls! :)kq

                2 Replies
                1. re: Kitchen Queen

                  This isn't prefect, but a quick recipe is to start with a can of Baba Ghanoush (e.g. Cortas brand from a Middle Eastern store), and add garlic and lemon juice to taste.


                  1. re: Kitchen Queen

                    I've eaten babaganouj/hummous mixes before and they were quite delicious, but they're definitely a far cry from babaganouj.

                    What I do resonate with is your Middle Eastern market suggestion, except not to obtain hummous but to obtain the freshest possible tahini. Fresh tahini makes all the difference in the world in baba and hummous. I travel 45 minutes to a Syrian grocer to get my tahini. It's worth every second/every drop of gas.

                  2. Basic recipe above looks right; you've got to expect garlic/lemon variations. Main thing is that the eggplant should be collapsed before you take it off the grill. It's so mushy you don't need a food processor. I let mine drain a few minutes in a colander.

                    1. I've had both hummus and baba ghanooj with varying levels of garlic and I really prefer a more subtle garlic flavour so that I can taste the eggplant. I've noticed a tendency in North America to really go crazy with raw garlic in stuff like this but I don't feel it enhances - it overwhelms. I love garlic but prefer that it stays in its place rather than becomes the main event.

                      1. I don't know if it is authentic or not, but I like to add two shakes of cumin and one shake of cayenne. And I probably go a bit heavier on the tahini than the recipe at the top of this thread. What I've eaten around the Chicago area at a variety of places has varied a fair amount; I think you adjust to suit your tastes if you make it at home.

                        Baba ganouj is one of a handful of dishes that I remember exactly when and where I first ate; it was such a revelation to me. I think it is one of the foods of the gods.

                        1. I agree about draining the eggplant before mashing it. There are dark bitter juices that collect in the eggplant that will make it very unpleasant tasting if you don't drain it first. Adding the lemon juice immediately will keep the eggplant a light fresh looking color as well as flavor it. I prefer my baba ganouj without tahini. Actually I like it as more of an eggplant spread. I add minced onion and minced red pepper to mine along with lemon juice, evoo, and garlic and just leave out the tahini and it is delish!

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: KingsKetz

                            I grew up with a Hungarian mother whose eggplant salad (vineta, she called it - don't know if it's spelled correctly) was the only way I remember eating eggplant until I was out of the house. Black charred eggplant, pulp mashed with finely chopped onion, veg. or olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Absolutely delicious, no tahini, no garlic - I must make it soon, now that I think of it.

                            1. re: KingsKetz

                              I agree, no tahini. tahini is for hummous

                              1. re: MVNYC

                                Well, yes and no. Classic baba ghanooj should be made with tahini. But there are other eggplant concoctions that shouldn't. My mother's vineta is one of them.

                                1. re: Nyleve

                                  babaghanooj is made all over the middle east and medditeranean. Some versions have tahini, some dont. One isnt more "authentic" then the other. I grew up without tahini.

                                  This is sort of like baklava, some recipes use pistachios, some walnuts, neither is inauthentic because it is made over such a large area.

                                  1. re: MVNYC

                                    I stand corrected. Thank you for that.

                            2. I have a terribly inauthentic version that I love...take a good basic recipe and add sour cream to taste, about 1/2 cup for every 3 cups of other stuff. It rounds out the flavor and adds a smooth richness. I got the idea from an old Gourmet mag recipe.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Snackish

                                Speaking of inauthentic versions, I had baba at a kosher deli once where they put mayo in it. Not good. Not good at all.

                              2. Okay...made baba zughanooj with grilled zuchinni. Used the finely minced onion, olive oil, grilled lemon (juice from it) and salt and pepper. Delicious. I grilled it until it had wonderful dark marks and was limp. So, so good.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: melly

                                  What a great thing to do. Thanks for reporting back. My zukes are just at the threatening stage right now - almost big enough to pick and eat: still innocent and sweet. But it's such a small window. Within days they'll be growing like The Blob and I'll be depositing them on doorsteps in the dead of night. Good to have many uses for them.

                                2. I wish people would leave cukes and tomatoes on my doorstep!!

                                  1 Reply