Friday, November 4, 2011

Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ghanoush made by Eric Ruttum
Numerous Armenian recipes contain eggplant in one way or another. Naturally, reader Eric Ruttum figured our website was the place to go to find a baba ghanoush recipe, but was surprised when he couldn’t find one.

So, Eric emailed me:
“I love looking at your website for new Armenian recipes.  Never do the recipes fail me.  My grandpa was Armenian.  He was born in Aintab, Turkey, but fled to Aleppo, Syria with his family during the genocide.  I grew up with my mom making yalanci dolma as a special dish a few times a year.  I absolutely loved when she made it and then ordered lamajoun from Boston.  What great dinners those were.

As I have grown older, I have started cooking Armenian food as well.  My mom is coming this weekend and I would like to make her some baba ghanoush from the eggplants in my garden.  Unfortunately, I could not find a recipe on your website.  I have found others on the web, but was wondering if there were any special Armenian versions of it.”
I had to explain to Eric that eggplant recipes were lacking due to my husband’s allergic reaction to it. I can post eggplant recipes, but I don’t cook with eggplant at home.

I sent Eric the following recipe for him to try, and asked that he send me a photo of the finished product, if he didn’t mind.
Baba Ghanoush
Ingredients:
1 large eggplant (about 1 to 1 ½ lbs.)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup lemon juice, or to taste
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Cumin, salt and pepper, to taste

Note from my Aunt Arpie: She said her mother used to stir in a few drops of milk to the mashed eggplant to provide a creamy texture. But if you use milk, don’t add lemon juice!
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Cover a baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly coat with oil.
2. Wash the outside of the eggplant and pierce the skin all around with a sharp knife. Place the eggplant on the prepared pan and bake for about 45-50 minutes, turning half-way through. The eggplant skin should be wrinkled and the pulp soft.
(Even better: Charring the eggplant over an open flame or under a broiler will produce a naturally smoky flavor which truly enhances the dish.)
3. Remove eggplant from oven, slit it lengthwise and place in a colander (in the sink, please!) to drain for about 15 minutes.
4. Scoop the pulp out of the skin, slightly mashing it. Place pulp into the bowl of a food processor. Add the chopped garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and seasonings; blend until smooth. (If you don’t have a food processor, mash eggplant with a wooden spoon – or whatever mashing tool you have - and beat in the remaining ingredients until well-blended.)
5. Allow flavors to combine for at least 30 minutes before serving. This tastes best at room temperature. Refrigerated leftovers – if you have any - should keep for about 3 days.

Variation: Add 1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste) and omit the olive oil. The rest of the procedure remains the same.
Serve with pita bread or sesame crackers.
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Eric not only came through with his photo, but included an evaluation as well.
“Well, I made the baba ghanoush from your recipe today.  I used tahini instead of the olive oil and milk.  My Mom always used tahini, so that’s what I used.  We are eating it right now and enjoying it immensely.  I used white eggplants from my garden and blackened them on the grill to cook them instead of cooking in the oven.  They had a really nice char on them and lent a smoky flavor just like you said in your recipe.”

Thank you, Eric, for your interest and participation.
Keep those requests coming!

10 comments:

  1. My mom uses tahini in her mutabel as well. Speaking of names, I'm surprised to see it called baba ghanoush here. You don't use the word mutabel instead? I never heard it called baba ghanoush until I moved to the States.

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    Replies
    1. yes, your right this is mutabel not baba goanoush

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  2. My favorite is baba ghanuoush with tahini! Thanks for the reminder, I haven't made it in awhile .... eggplant on the grocery list now.

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  3. Actually, from what I know, mutabbel or baba ghanoush is a Lebanese appetizer--although of course anyone born in Lebanon or Syria makes it as well.

    Here is my recipe for baba ghanoush/mutabbel. It is a little different from the one Robyn gave.

    1 medium sized Italian eggplant, or the equivalent in Japanese or white eggplants.
    Juice of of one lemon (approx.)
    2-3 cloves garlic, mashed
    1-3 tablespoons tahini, to taste
    1-3 tablespoons lebni (strained yogurt), to taste
    Salt/pepper
    Parsley, olive oil, Aleppo red pepper to garnish.

    Cut the eggplant lengthwise, rub with olive oil, prick a few times with a knife, then roast in the oven cut side down until it collapses (10-15 minutes at 400 F). Alternatively, you can roast it on the grill or the stove top, as Robyn suggested.

    Let the eggplant cool, then peel. Discard the seeds, which are bitter. Put in a food processor with the rest of the ingredients. Puree. Taste and adjust.

    Place in a shallow pan, then decorate with the red pepper, olive oil and parsley.

    Note: If the eggplant has a lot of seeds, you may need to use two instead.

    Alternatively, there is an Aintaptsi eggplant salad that is similar. Here is the recipe:

    1 medium sized Italian eggplant, or the equivalent in Japanese or white eggplants.
    Juice of of one lemon (approx.)
    2-3 cloves garlic, mashed
    1 medium size ripe tomato, diced (1/4 inch)
    1 green bell pepper, diced
    1/2 red onion, chopped finely
    1/4 cup chopped parsley
    Olive oil
    Salt/pepper
    Aleppo red pepper to garnish.

    Cut the eggplant lengthwise, rub with olive oil, prick a few times with a knife, then roast in the oven cut side down until it collapses (10-15 minutes at 400 F). Alternatively, you can roast it on the grill or the stove top, as Robyn suggested.

    Let the eggplant cool, then peel. Discard the seeds, which are bitter. Mash coarsely with a fork, or chop with a knife. Place in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, adjust the seasoning to taste.

    Note: Instead of the bell pepper, you can also use a combination of bell pepper and a spicier pepper, like Anaheim or jalapeno.

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  4. Oops, I forgot: For the eggplant salad recipe, also add about 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint.

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  5. Oh boy, that does sound good Ara - especially with the combination of tahini and labne. Also, you make a good point about removing the bitter seeds.
    As always, thanks!

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  6. I have to share this recipe with my dad, he will love it!

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  7. If I broil the eggplant ... How long appox?

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  8. Arrange the oven rack so it sits in the center of the oven. Turn the broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Split eggplant in half lengthwise, placing the cut side up. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil evenly over eggplant halves and broil until well browned, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
    Hope this helps!


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