Eggplants or Aubergines? Does it really matter when all that counts is that smokey, rich and creamy flesh turned into a beautiful, mouth-watering dip? This is definitely a favourite in our home. For me, it’s just as delicious and it ranks high up there with its ubiquitous partner hummus; although I must say there is never any baba ganoush left at the end of the meal. Ah, levantine, what would I do without you?
Before coming to Abidjan, I had always had an electric stove and was ‘forced’ to oven-roast my eggplants rather than charring them over a gas burner. Well, my friends let me tell you, the mess on the hob is well worth every mouthful.
But, don’t freak out. Oven-roasted or broiled aubergines still make a delicious and flavoursome baba ganoush. Without any further ado, here is the recipe.
Cooking the Aubergines:
If you are going to oven-roast them, then I suggest you cook the aubergines in a 180ºC/375ºF oven for about 30 minutes. Let them cool and then peel them. You could also take advantage of a BBQ or braai, as we say in South Africa, to cook them.
If you are going to char them over a gas burner, place a sheet of foil paper under the burner, so as to make the cleaning easier. You will have some ash on the hob but not that much.
Best Smoked Aubergine Dip
- 4-5 medium aubergines, we have the small, long variety here
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove – I don’t like it when garlic overpowers other flavours but feel free to add more if want a stronger garlicky flavour.
- 1 big Tbsp of sesame paste, Tahini
- a pinch of salt
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Optional: pomegranate seeds to add crunch and a pinch of sumac (a tangy, lemony spice often used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking)
- Lay the aubergines over the flames of a small gas hob. Let them slowly cook, rotating them frequently with a fork or tongs; making sure that all sides are perfectly charred. You’ll know the aubergine is done when it’s deflated. Some people say that they can release liquid but I didn’t find that with this method.
- Once the aubergines are charred, let them cool before peeling them.
- Put that yummy, soft, smokey flesh in a blender with the garlic, tahini and lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt and blend away for a few seconds.
- Transfer everything to a serving bowl, add a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of sumac if you have any and decorate with pomegranate seeds. Voilà!
- Serve with pita bread and be ready to make some more!