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Baba Ghanouj | Middle Eastern aubergine/eggplant mezze dip

بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم

السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته


Aubergines, also called eggplant, berenjena, brinjal, garden egg, egg apple, patlican, melongene, melanzane, Guinea squash or here in Algeria bandendjen a member of the nightshade family. Normally,  the Globe Aubergine which typically found all over the world is a deep purple and egg-shaped. It is a spongy and mild-tasting and meaty yet low in calories. While botanically are a berry, for ease, in the cooking world it is referred to as a vegetable. It's never eaten raw, but it can be prepared in so many ways.  The best aubergines are firm and shiny eggplants with unbroken skin. Male eggplants tend to have fewer seeds, and are therefore less bitter than female eggplants. To find out the sex of an aubergine, look at the indentation at bottom. If it's deep and shaped like a dash, it's a female. If it's shallow and round, it's a male. Smaller eggplants also tend to be less bitter. Freshness is important, so don't store them for very long. 

The other common variety are  Italian , (found here in Algeria), is similar in color and taste, but grows in a long cylinder. Many other varities can be found also like the Phillipono, Japanese, Indian, Hawaiian, Holland, Green Goddess, Chinese, Green Apple Aubergine, Pea Aubergines, Rosa Bianca, White, and Thai Aubergines. Aubergines have been thought to be of Indian orgin, were actually cultivated in China since the 5th century. Aubergines have a subtle and distinctive combination of textures and flavours - smooth, fleshy, creamy, smoky that  make it a versatile and beguiling component of many great dishes. Aubergines can be cooked and eaten in a variety of ways, from stir fry, fried, grilled, griddled, roasted, baked, broiled or even put into soups or casseroles. 

Aubergines are a good source of fibre and folic acid. The deep purple colour of the skin is a result of the presence of anthocyanins - compounds with antioxidant properties. Aubergines are generally in season from May to mid- October here in the Mediterranean, but in many places available year round in the market. Aubergines holds an esteemed place in many Mediterranean cuisines—Caponata from Italy, Ratatouille from Provence, Moussaka from Greece, Baba ghanouj from all over the Middle East, and myriad hot and cold dishes from Turkey, where aubergine is the king of vegetables. But many cooks hesitate when it comes to aubergine. 

Simple techniques to ensure your aubergine is succelent and creamy:
  • Because globe aubergine and other large varieties usually have tough skins, peeling it is a good idea, especially if you're serving it in chunks or slices. But I don't like to remove the skin entirely. Instead, I partially peel it in a striped fashion. If you are using the aubergine in soups or dips, then you do need to peel off the skin completely.
  • When you grill-roast the aubergine and then separate the flesh from the peel, keep the skin on during cooking to keep the eggplant intact.
  • Large aubergines like the Globe Aubergine works deliciously in just about any eggplant dish, provided you salt it first. Salting, also known as purging, accomplishes two goals: it pulls out juices that carry bitter flavors, and it collapses the air pockets in the eggplant's sponge-like flesh, thus preveniting it from absorbing too much oil and getting greasy. To salt eggplant, peel it and then slice, cube, or quarter it, depending on the recipe. Sprinkle the pieces generously with salt and let them sit in a colander for an hour (you'll usually see a lot of liquid beading on the surface). Rinse the eggplant in plenty of water to remove the salt, firmly squeeze a few pieces at a time in the palm of your hand to draw out almost all the moisture, and then pat the eggplant dry with paper towels. Thorough drying is important; squeezing out excess moisture will give you a less greasy result.
Today I present to you a traditional way of enjoying aubergines in the Middle Eastern. Baba Ghanouj; sometimes written Baba ghannoush or even called M'tabbal is Levantine mezze dish of mashed aubergines, olive oil and seasoning. Baba ghanouj is eaten with pita style bread as an appetizer or a part of simple and light meal. 

Baba Ghanouj
 - Middle Eastern aubergine/eggplant mezze di
serves 4 as a mezze
  • 1 medium aubergine
  • ¼  cup tahini
  • the juice of half lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 TBS virgin olive oil
  • salt/black pepper
  • aluminum foil

  1. Line your cooking area with foil - to save you from heavy duty clean-up.
  2. Wash the aubergine well. Then dry.
  3. Charbroil the aubergine over an open flame (on your stovetop or outdoor grill).Do not cut or pierce the aubergine. Let it completely unharmed! This way the flesh inside will stay soft and there will be less mess.
  4. Place the aubergine on the flame for about 10 minutes, undisturbed. 
  5. Once it is charbroiled - and I mean it will look like burnt paper, take it off the fire.
  6. Cut in half and lay in strainer, to allow the liquid to flow out - for least a half hour.
  7. Once, it has cooled, you can take a spoon and remove the flesh.
  8. Traditionally, Baba ghanouj is chopped finely with a swift chopping motions, but a kitchen robo (food processor) will also do the work nicely. So simply place the aubergine and the remaining ingredients in your kitchen robo (food processor) and puré until smooth.
  9. Now taste it. Does it need more salt? Is it zesty enough? Remember, the tastes will change the longer it sits, so do not oversalt!
  10. Spoon onto a plate then spread evenly with the back of the spoon.
Serve with drizzle of olive oil and olives.

๑۞๑ Optionally, you can prepare Baba Ghanouj without the tahini, just add more olive oil. And you can also roast the aubergine in the oven, but the taste will be different - not smokey.

How do you like to prepare your aubergine? 
Share your favourite aubergine recipes in the comments below.

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    3. What spice have you forked onto the edges of the baba ganoush plate?

    4. Salaam sis, The spice is sumac. But I also use paprika sometimes. :)


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