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The great Baba Ghanoush


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Foodman inspired me to try and make my own baba ganouj(sp) again.

The first time I tried it, I simply baked the eggplant until soft. Blah. Not even garlic and lemon made it noteworthy. Then I had it at a local Lebanese place, and it had a smokey taste to it. After consulting over on the Fatteh thread, I armed myself with a hefty eggplant and began my journey ot create the perfect Baba G. For my palate anyway.

I ended up cutting the purple globe in half, scored down the middle, lightly salted it, and put it face down in the smoker for about 45 minutes.

I got impatient. After 45 min, it was starting to cook, and take on some smoke, but I didn't want the smoke to totally override the eggplant's delicate flavor, or wait another hour for it to be done, so I moved it over to a piping hot gas grill to let it char. In about 10 minutes, it seemed perfectly done so I pressed some of the water out and took it inside.

Once inside, I let it cool and then removed the skin. I'm telling you, I was worried. It looked like hell. Brown, stringy... bleh. Smelled ok.

I threw the flesh in a ziplock baggie and stashed it in the fridge to chill. I assembled my newest kitchen toy, a Kitchenaid food processor. I was really quite excited.

In went then chilled eggplant flesh, further drained of more liquid, and zzzzzzzz went the FP. The icky brown mess was instantly transformned into a prettier warm grey. There was hope! I whirred the FP again, and let it do its thing. I added a teaspoon of garlic paste, some salt, black pepper, half teaspoon ground cumin, touch of olive oil, and the juice of one lemon. I let the FP work its magic again, and I added a couple tablespoons of plain yogurt.

Then I tried it.

Success!!! Its *goshdarn* good. Smokey but not too much. Perhaps a wee bit strong on the lemon and not enough on the garlic. But all in all, really good eating. My SO polished off half of it during a movie that night. I got the other half. :wub: Quite a compliment coming from the SO, as he's a bit leery of my ethnic adventures in the kitchen. :wacko:

So thank you Elie, and the rest of you for helping guide me along the path of rightous Baba G. formulation!

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Thanks for the report.

No Tahini at all? Yogurt with eggplant is very good as well though. And with the smokey flavor I bet it even tasted better.

I really want some homemade Baba Ghanooj now. Instead we will probably have Fatteh for dinner :smile:.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Thanks for the report.

No Tahini at all? Yogurt with eggplant is very good as well though. And with the smokey flavor I bet it even tasted better.

I really want some homemade Baba Ghanooj now. Instead we will probably have Fatteh for dinner :smile:.

Elie

Aw crap. :blush: Yeah I put in about a 1/4th cup of tahini.

I'm on to fatteh next. I just bought a slew of chickpeas.

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  • 1 year later...

A query about the dish known by various names: which name is predominant in which part of the "Middle East"? What is the name of the dish in Iraq, as opposed to its name in Saudi Arabia as opposed to ...? It appears that mutabbel (or any of the other transliterated variants) is used in Dubai (and other Gulf States)... But baba ghanouj appears to be widely used elsewhere. Or is it? Do many refer to it as abu ghanouj and, if so, where? In the words of an outside correspondent, what is the "dialectical distribution"? Can anyone help?

Thanks!

Gypsy Boy

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le goût de ce qu'elles sont."

Curnonsky (Maurice Edmond Sailland)

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You may be sorry you started this topic, and Elie may yank it. However, on the off-chance that we can answer a simple survey question without getting into a linguistic debate, I'll start. In Upper Egypt and Cairo, it's called baba ghanoush. I assume they use the same name elsewhere in Egypt, but I have no information to confirm that assumption.

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Another can of worms!

Baba Ghanouj and Mutabal.

Baba Ghanouj

Baba is Father

Ghanouj is from Ghanaja and means to pamper/coddle/cosset/spoil

So it is a pampered father dish. Having said that, the name of the dish itself is Syrian Lebanese and to my knowledge it is exactly the same dish with Pomegrenate variant for the Syrian version but both use Tehineh. The name Baba Ghanouj is used all over from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.

Mutabal

Mutabal means seasoned or dressed with a sauce and spices.

If you wish to order Baba Ghanouj in Lebanon, you will ask for Mutabal Bazinjan bel Tehineh which is Eggplant dressed with Tahineh. Which is is exactly the same as Baba Ghanouj.

Should you order Mutabal or Mutabal Bazinjan you might get the Lebanese variant of Eggplant salad minus the Tahineh.

In Syria, you will get the same as Lebanon with the proviso that the Eggplant is not mashed but separated into strips with a fork.

As far as the rest of the Arab world is concerned they call it similar to the above definitions and depends on either the restaurant owner or the Chef background.

Edited by Almass (log)
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  • 1 month later...

when i was growing up, my dear lebanese mother alice (of alice's kitchen!) used to make our baba ghannouj

in the broiler, and i remember it as very delicious...

yet in the early 1990s a palestinian boyfriend taught me how to grill the entire eggplant (uncut)

right on the burner of my gas stove, turning it carefully with two wooden spoons every 10 to 15 minutes until charred, being careful not to pierce it and lose the precious juices :wink:

after the eggplant has cooled, it is sliced horizontally in half and the white pulp is carefully spooned out into a bowl that has garlic and salt mashed into a paste or into a food processor avoiding any charred pieces of skin that tend to come along for the ride.

from there, proceed with garlic, salt, lemon, tahini....delicious! and right now fabulous with those perfect summer eggplants! :cool: i just picked up two organic beauties at the farmers' market today!

since then, my baba ghannouj has been so deliciously smokey that once someone even asked if i used liquid smoke in it. :shock:

another friend from our lebanese family village shared their use of a little dried mint rubbed in at the last minute, which is another delicious variation. they also used a little bit of yogurt, which i guess is good if you need to make your baba feed a crowd!

linda dalal

author of Alice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese CookingAlice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking

www.lindasawaya.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm a Greek. I grew up on this dish, but we didn't use tahini. We used OO&V and lemon. And TONSSS of roasted garlic. Eggplant was always done on the grill, when the lamb was going.

Salt/pepper/ and a dash of cinnamon (Greeks love their cinnamon;)).

It was always superb, and always a staple on our table.

Thanks for bringing this subject up... I've since taught both my kids to keep eggplant on their table, as well.

Meat! It's what's for dinner!
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My mother used to use this stove-top potato baker to do her eggplants. This gadget is a sort of double-walled griddle thingy (lightweight - aluminum or light steel) with a dome top that fits over it. You place the thing over a gas or electric element and put your potatoes (or eggplants) right onto the bottom griddle section. Cover and it becomes an oven. But the direct heat on the griddle allows the vegetable to char slightly.

Has anyone ever seen such a thing lately? It's a really genius piece of cookware, now that I think of it. Makes much less of a mess than putting an eggplant directly onto the burner.

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  • 1 month later...

Here they generally make it with a little yogurt in it, and it's called "Patlıcan Salatası" (Eggplant salad), very similar to the one common in Greece; but in the southeast it Baba Gannuj, as we know it. I do the eggplants right on the gas burner of the stove. (Be sure to prick them a bit first!) It's a bit messy but not that bad, the outsides will burn and blister, and you will get that good smoky taste, which some people strangely enough find repulsive. (Not me...)

A mild yogurt variety also serves as a bed on which to lay Adana kebab, and the resulting dish is known as "Ali Nazik."

"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

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Sazji, a turkish friend of mine has this aluminum pan/contraption thing he brought from home that he uses to roast eggplant on an electric burner. It sounds a bit like what Nyleve Bear is desribing, the eggplant was definitely nice and charred. Any idea what it is called?

I generally roast my eggplant on a gas burner, but on my current electric stove I am stuck with the broiler. It never really tastes quite right that way though.

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oooh, I think I know what grill contraption you're talking about...I used to have something that fits that description, my mother may still have hers. I'll check.

Back to the eggplants: would char grilling this way be good?

gallery_11814_1914_11191.jpg

gallery_11814_1914_34242.jpg

What do I do next for that great baba ghanoush?

Yetty CintaS

I am spaghetttti

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Once the eggplants are cool enough to handle, peel them and place in the a colander to drain the liquid -- drain for a minimum of a half hour. Then either chop the eggplant with a fork (chunky style) or run through the food processor (smooth style). Place in a bowl and add about 5 tbls lemon juice, 6-8 tbls tehina, fresh parsley, 3 cloves minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Stir all the ingredients together and let sit for a bit so the flavors meld.

Edited by bloviatrix (log)

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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I just pulled out a bunch of books -- none has a recipe for tehina. They all assume you'll buy it. :shock:

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Tehina is easy. I had to make some in a pinch last year when we were entertaining friends in a remote part of Germany. Just toast some sesame seeds, then grind them in a blender while slowly adding a little canola or other neutral oil plus a little sesame oil for flavor. Just add enough oil until it becomes a paste of the desired consistency.

Again, the grill is nice if you have a gas cooktop but is useless for electric. I will ask K what he used next time I talk to him.

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My mother used to use this stove-top potato baker to do her eggplants. This gadget is a sort of double-walled griddle thingy (lightweight - aluminum or light steel) with a dome top that fits over it. You place the thing over a gas or electric element and put your potatoes (or eggplants) right onto the bottom griddle section. Cover and it becomes an oven. But the direct heat on the griddle allows the vegetable to char slightly.

Has anyone ever seen such a thing lately? It's a really genius piece of cookware, now that I think of it. Makes much less of a mess than putting an eggplant directly onto the burner.

I have one, an old one from the 50s. I saw one (new) in a catalog a few months back. Apparently someone decided to bring back this handy stove-top baker. Potato baker.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I'm a Greek. I grew up on this dish, but we didn't use tahini. We used OO&V and lemon. And TONSSS of roasted garlic. Eggplant was always done on the grill, when the lamb was going.

Salt/pepper/ and a dash of cinnamon (Greeks love their cinnamon;)).

It was always superb, and always a staple on our table.

The Lebanese make the same dish (without tahini) but add stewed tomatoes to it.

As I recall, it is called Batinjan Mutabbal vs. Baba Ghannouj (with tahini).

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Once the eggplants are cool enough to handle, peel them and place in the a colander to drain the liquid -- drain for a minimum of a half hour.  Then either chop the eggplant with a fork (chunky style) or run through the food processor (smooth style).  Place in a bowl and add about 5 tbls lemon juice, 6-8 tbls tehina, fresh parsley, 3 cloves minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste.  Stir all the ingredients together and let sit for a bit so the flavors meld.

yikes! That is a lot of raw garlic :smile: How did it come out spaghetttti?

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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My mother used to use this stove-top potato baker to do her eggplants. This gadget is a sort of double-walled griddle thingy (lightweight - aluminum or light steel) with a dome top that fits over it. You place the thing over a gas or electric element and put your potatoes (or eggplants) right onto the bottom griddle section. Cover and it becomes an oven. But the direct heat on the griddle allows the vegetable to char slightly.

Has anyone ever seen such a thing lately? It's a really genius piece of cookware, now that I think of it. Makes much less of a mess than putting an eggplant directly onto the burner.

Here it is.

I have one that belonged to my mother... forgot all about it until reading this post. Now I have a reason to dig it out of the closet. :wink:

Edited to say: Oops. I just noticed andiesenji's post.

Edited by Beanie (log)

Ilene

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  • 4 years later...

So...still using up my tahine. Do I keep the skins on my eggplants? Yogurt or no yogurt?

I prefer eggplants to chickpeas any day, and here I've had tahine in my house weeks before even thinking of baba ghanoush. Don't get up; I'll fire myself.

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You scoop the flesh from the skins; but you want to char everything enough that some of that flavour has penetrated the flesh. I made BG a few times last year when I had the charcoal grill lit, using the same goma (sesame) paste that Japanese & Chinese grocers carry for things like making shabu-shabu dipping sauce. I used the recipe from Christine Osborne's Middle Eastern Cooking, but also copied one from Gordon Ramsay off the web. It was much the same.

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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