7.15.2017

Pampered Papa

Did you know that "baba ghanouj" translates to "pampered papa?" In Arabic, baba is papa, or father, and ghanouj is pampered. Neither Wikipedia nor Markipedia know a definitive reason as to how it got this moniker, although harems seem to figure prominently in any attempted explanation.

Baba ghanouj is a dish traditional to the Levant. It is very popular in Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and even parts of southern Turkey.

I never ate baba ghanouj in my youth, but became interested when I purchased a book called The Flavors of Aleppo written by well-known Syrian chef Poopa Dweck.

I have made quite a few of the recipes from her gorgeous book, but the one I have enjoyed the most is the baba ghanouj.

I make it from memory now and was startled the other day when, for some reason, I looked into the book at the original recipe. While my changes are minimal in terms of ingredients, my method has drifted to a technique that produces a wonderfully smoky, lemony, and creamy  baba ghanouj.

I like my method, and I think you will, too. It makes papa happy.

~ David

Baba Ghanouj
Adapted from The Flavors of Aleppo by Pooja Dweck

3 large eggplants
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
warm water
chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
flatbreads, for serving

Heat a gas or charcoal grill to high. Place eggplants on the rack directly above the heat and cook 6 minutes a side on 4 sides (total of 24 minutes). Place charred and blistered eggplants in a colander to cool.

While they cool, place tahini, lemon juice, cumin, salt, Aleppo pepper, and 2 tablespoons warm water in a 2-cup glass measure. Using only one beater of a handheld mixer, blend these ingredients until smooth. They will thicken very quickly. Set aside, but do not clean the beater.

Once cool enough to handle, cut the eggplants in half and scoop out the flesh into a wire mesh sieve set over a bowl. Try not to get too much of the blackened skin into the flesh. Let the eggplant drain for 10-15 minutes. You will see the bitter brown liquid accumulate in the bowl. Discard this liquid.

Using the single beater, add another tablespoon or two of warm water to the tahini-lemon mixture and mix. Move it and the drained eggplant flesh to a medium bowl. Using an immersion blender, purée until the mixture is light in color and creamy in consistency.

Serve with flatbreads. You can either cut them into wedges or serve each person their own flatbread, to be torn by hand.

Serves 6-8 as an appetizer.

  • Note: I tried blending the lemon juice and tahini with the immersion blender to reduce the number of utensils, but found that the single beater did a better job of mixing the tahini, while the immersion blender performed better once the eggplant was introduced.

30 comments:

  1. I'm a big fan of baba ganouj, despite not making it too often. Although if it's on a menu, I always order it.
    A little fact about the word baba. In Croatian it means old lady.

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  2. There's nothing better. Don’t get me started. I could eat this everyday. I really could. Why is it that whenever I eat eggplant I make an involuntary “uhmmmm” sound no other food does that to me. GREG

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    1. It's just one of those amazing comfort foods, Greg.

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  3. I love Baba Ghanouj, but had no idea what the name meant once translated ...I thought it was just delicious eggplant. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

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    1. Carolyne - now I am learning (thanks to my many readers) all the different translations of "baba!" No matter, though, because this is "just delicious eggplant!"

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  4. very good, in any shape or form
    I tend to roast the aubergines Italian-style on the flames of the cooker, using a metal net (in the same way I roast peppers). sometimes, instead of processing the aubergines, I leave them in strips and I then drizzle the dressing over (+ some pomegranate seeds and a little yogurt) - stefano, www.italianhomecooking.co.uk

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    1. I love eggplant served like that, as well, Stefano!

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  5. I didn't know that was what the name meant, lol! But I do know that baba ghanouj is one of my favorite dips, especially this time of year. That charring gives the dish a wonderful smokey flavor.

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    1. And I also love that it is so healthy, Frank!

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  6. My eggplants are growing in the garden, so this is definitely on my list!

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    1. How wonderful, Mimi! I wish you lived next door!

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  7. Yum. I have never made this although I have thought about doing so many times. I love the name! Thanks for cluing us in. I love random
    interesting facts.

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    1. This is definitely worth making, Catering! And it is so healthy!

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  8. Hi David, never once have I thought about what baba ghanouj might mean, very intersting. Will definitely try this recipe using your one beater technique;)

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    1. Glad you understand what I mean by the single beater, Cheri! That as hard to write!

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  9. Yummy! I love the smokey flavor of Baba Ghanouj. Your pictures are wonderful, as always!

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  10. I spent a lot of time in the Middle East and I loved the cuisine out there. I'm gonna try this dish to sample those flavours again.

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    1. Very cool, Emma - where were you in the Middle East? Such amazing flavors from that area of the world!

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    2. I visited and worked in Bahrain and Dubai they were the main two areas but I also visited Kuwait a few times.

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    3. What great experiences! I've been wanting to visit Dubai for a long time!

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  11. I love roasted eggplants but I never made Baba Ghanouj ,it is a great dish and your recipe looks great.

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    1. We love eggplant in just about any form, Gerlinde! You should definitely try this!

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  12. Oh my goodness, this looks fantastic, David! Now, I know what I'm this weekend!! I'm sure it will make us happy :)

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    1. I am making more this weekend, too! It is really yummy!

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  13. David, I had no idea what the name means! How fun! Your recipe is entirely different from mine, but I know I would like it equally well. Wish I had some eggplants on hand - I'd whip up a half batch of each right now and eat all of it by myself. It makes mama happy!

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    1. I have to check your posts for your version - and need to try it out, Jean!

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  14. I have tried baba ganouj a couple of times, but it must be an eggplant thing for me. I only like eggplant if it's pickled! My mother wants to kill me for this (and a few other food "sins" that I constantly commit, according to her). I hate figs too, which is unforgiveable to her. BUT, if I was going to make Baba Ganouj, I would totally use your recipe, David! :)

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    1. If you aren't careful, they may start barring you from entering Italy! :) Neither eggplant OR figs? Yikes! They are more important to Italians than garlic!

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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