Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that aubergines are probably my favourite food. If I ever see it on a menu, I will immediately stop looking at anything else and order that. Even when I go to Lucky Chip, the best burger place in London (in my humble opinion), I go for the Eastwood, their vegetarian burger, because it has a huge slice of aubergine in it.
I’ve been eating a lot of aubergines lately seeing as they are currently in season. Last week I decided to make one of my favourite dishes, baba ganoush. If you haven’t heard of it before, baba ganoush is a Middle Eastern dip, similar to hummus but made with charred, smoky aubergine instead of chickpeas. It is a classic part of any mezze and I absolutely love it.
Its very easy to make. The principal ingredients are aubergines, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. Served with warm flatbread, this to me is the perfect dip.
To start, pierce the skins of 3 large aubergines with a fork.
Then grill over the flame of a gas hob till the skin has charred and the flesh is very soft. This can take about 15 minutes.
Keep your eye on them, don’t be tempted to leave the kitchen! Use tongs to turn them frequently.
Alternatively, if the weather is nice, it would be lovely to grill them on the BBQ. It would also mean you make less mess in your kitchen!
If you don’t have access to a gas hob or a BBQ, you can just pierce the skins and then pop them in the oven in a roasting tin and cook in a hot oven (200C/400F/gas mark 6) for about 30/40 minutes, depending on the size of the aubergines.
If you do have a gas hob and you can blacken the skins on them but the flesh isn’t soft enough, you can place them in the oven for 5/10 minutes once they’re blackened. This way the flesh can soften without making too much mess. You’ll notice that as the aubergines blacken and soften, they start sticking to your hob and making quite a mess.
Once they’re blackened and soft, leave the aubergines to cool slightly, then scrape the skin from the flesh.
Place the peeled aubergines in a bowl and mash. Alternatively you can pulse in a food processor.
In another bowl, whisk together 3 crushed cloves of garlic, the juice of a small lemon, 2 or 3 heaped tablespoons of tahini paste and 3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil and a grinding of salt and pepper. If you have access to smoked salt, this could add some extra smokiness to it.
Then add this mix to the mashed aubergines and mix through.
I then chopped up some fresh mint and stirred through. If you like a little bit of kick to your dishes, you can add a pinch of chilli powder at this stage and stir through.
I served this with some pitta bread which I warmed on a griddle then sliced up into bite-sized strips.
To serve, drizzle some good quality olive oil over the top. You can also sprinkle some herbs on the top, maybe more mint or you can add parsley. You could perhaps add some toasted pine nuts over the top to add some texture, but this isn’t necessary, just an idea.
This is a great dip to have with drinks at a party or to take to a picnic. You can make it in advance, in fact I think it tastes nicer after a day or two as they flavours get time to develop.
Personally I think the most important aspect of baba ganoush is to get the aubergines fully scorched as this is what gives you the smoky taste, and that is really what makes baba ganoush so distinctive and delicious. However you cook the aubergines, you must make sure that the skins are blackened before you attempt to peel them.