It's Baba Ganoosh time
Knowing how good it can be, I've developed a hankering, but I don't have a good recipe, so I turn to you all to supply one (or more). And you correspondents in the Middle East or those who have lived and cooked there, don't be shy. I'd love to get a recipe variant from every country in the area for comparison and contrast. Thank you all in advance.
Here's my recipe. I'm kind of picky about Baba Ghanoosh. I like it lemony, not too smooth and without any "enriching" ingredients.
1 medium eggplant
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, squished
Salt to taste
Olive oil (optional)
Prick eggplant all over with a fork, place the eggplant on a foil pan in a covered barbecue, and cook, turning once or twice, until the skin is charred and the insides are soft.
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.
Makes about 2 cups
If you haven't access to a barbecue, roasting the eggplant on a gas range is pretty effective (though messy). As chefshane said, roasting in the oven is inferior and will lead to a very bland product.
I also squeeze the water out of the 2 roasted eggplant before pureeing with 6 tbsp. tahini, salt, the juice of half a lemon, 2 cloves roasted garlic, 1/2 tsp. cumin and perhaps a tablespoon of yogurt or sour cream. The garnish is olive oil, parsley and paprika, though I might try the recommendation of mint. All measurements are estimates as this one dish that I really make from sight and taste.
Set up a bbq with hot rocks or heat beads. toss the eggplants on the embers and toast them till soft, smoking the skins. This is important.
You can roast them in the oven but the taste is way inferior.
If you must, you can add smoke flavour, but it just isn't done.
Scrape the soft eggplant,out of the skin, and beat with tahini, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
Finish with a spoonful of sour cream.
Some garnish with fresh crushed garlic, and lemon juice is a nice seasoning.
Eat with Lebanese bread, pita bread, or better still Egyptian bread.\
Also great garnished with chopped green spring onion and eaten with torn chunks of fresh crusty ciabbata or hearth bread.
Some smoked paprika is nice too, especially since it's not grilling season here. I grill the eggplant in summer and oven bake in winter. And I like to use sesame oil instead of tahini.
I season with cumin, cayenne, salt and mint. LOTS of lemon or lime juice.
This is one recipe that I've never measured ingredients, it always comes out delicious.
Yeah- the lemon is definitely essential, espeially if you like to push the charred/smoky qualities to their limit (which is my preference). The seedy component of some eggplants can contribute a bitterness/astringency, and that seems to get mulitplied by the charred skin. Lemon juice always mitigates that astringency- it seems to me that the acid (low pH) in the lemon neutralizes the base (high pH) bitterness. I can't say for sure that is exactly why it is happening, all I know is that it works- if you need a quick fix for the astringency once you've tasted it, just add more lemon.