Babaganoush, a smokey, velvety eggplant spread is a very common dish here in Israel. In Arabic, Babaganoush means “pampered father”, perhaps indicating it is a good dish to spoil your partner with. It is said that a girl needs to know 101 ways to prepare eggplant in order to prove her worth as a bride.
I know one way to prepare eggplant.
Luckily it is the pampered father way.
Many Israelis bring a whole eggplant with them to a barbecue, just set it whole on the fire, and let it roast away. Then they peel it, mash it in a bowl, add the tahini, olive oil and seasoning, and serve it warm as a side dish or appetizer at the cookout feast.
I personally feel that the best part of anything eggplant is fire-roasting. I’m sure you can make babaganoush by baking the eggplant in the oven but if you can roast the eggplant over a fire of some sort, it will be all the better. My mother-in-law taught me to roast the eggplants right on the gas stove top. It’s a good bet that she did so out of concern for my lousy bride qualifications.
Incidentally, when I lived in America, Babaganoush was made with mayonnaise instead of tahini. I don’t know if there is any more significance to that other than the American culinary theory that everything is better with mayonnaise? No matter, we are having none of that here!
- 1 large eggplant (about 1/2kg or 1 lb)
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/3 cup raw tahini (golmit)
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place the eggplant right on the burner of your gas stove and light it.
- Allow the flames to touch the eggplant skin and grill on each side for a few minutes until it starts to blister.
- Use tongs to turn the eggplant, being careful not to put them in the fire or you will burn you hands!
- The eggplant may be soft enough to mash after this grilling, but if not, place it in the oven and bake at 200C until it is very soft.
- Allow eggplant to cool enough so you can handle it.
- Gently peel the skin off the eggplant with your fingers and discard.
- Place the peeled eggplant in a large bowl and mash with a fork.
- Add the remaining ingredients and stir until smooth and well-blended.
- Serve warm or refrigerate to serve later.