Smokiness separates a good Baba Ganoush from a mediocre baked eggplant (aubergine) dip. This smoky magic is hard to do at home, but there are several tricks for creating that smoky taste in your home oven, on your grill or best still, on your outdoor barbecue. There are many other tricks to preparing the eggplant before it is cooked, and the choice of the other ingredients in the dip, which really makes all the difference for a homemade dip.
This article provides all the tricks and secrets for making delicious home made Baba Ganoush that you will love. Also, there recipes for Melitzanosalata - the Greek eggplant dip, and several other eggplant appetizer recipes for you to try. Enjoy!
There are several options: grilling, charring over an open flame, barbecuing in a grate or with the cover in place on a charcoal barbecue. In some ways the process is similar to grilling bell peppers - the outer skin should be blackened and charred without shrinking and driving the interior flesh. You can bake them in the oven, blacken them with a torch, wrap them in a foil mini-oven chamber and bake them again to get the desired smoky taste. The eggplants need to be very well cooked inside so that they are soft and collapsing in on themselves. If in doubt cook them for a little longer, but do not dry them out.
Once the eggplants have been cooked, scoop the flesh out, sprinkle with salt and drain it by leaving in a colander or sieve under a weight for 30-60 minutes. Then, squeeze the eggplant pieces between sheets of paper to remove the excess moisture. This helps to intensify the flavor and prevents the dip from becoming too watery.
How much garlic you add depends on your preferences. You can grill or bake the garlic gloves when you are baling the eggplants.
Once again the amount you use depends on your preferences, but avoid excess amounts of lemon juice, which destroys the smoky taste, and makes the dip too acidic.
Tahini is a core ingredient, but some people replace some of it with Greek yogurt, others use both. Yogurt tends to make a creamier dip. Use a good quality tahini or make your own. Olive oil can also be added.
Parsley and mint are often used, but you can also use coriander and other fresh herbs you prefer and that are available. Small amounts of chilli and various spices can be added for extra zing and intrigue.
Blacken the aubergines over a gas hob, grill, or barbecue, until completely charred and collapsed. An outdoor charcoal barbecue with a lid is best as the natural smoke created by the barbecue infuses into the egg plants. Slits cut through the skin can help develop the smoky taste. You can also use a torch to blacken the eggplants after they have been baked in the oven. You may want to do this outside. Allow the eggplants to cool. Cut or open the aubergines lengthways and remove the flesh as long strands. Discarding the skins. Place the strands in a sieve or colander and set aside to drain for about 30 minutes. Squeeze the strands and place in a small bowl. Coarsely mash the flesh with a fork. Combine the lemon juice with the tahini in a small bowl until it is well mixed. Add the garlic and half of the chopped herbs and mix briefly. Add the mashed aubergine. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and as little extra lemon juice if required.
Heat a chargrill pan over moderate to high heat (or your barbecue). Add the eggplants and cook, turning several times for 30-40 minutes or until charred on the outside and tender inside. Set aside to cool. Remove the flesh from eggplants and discard the skins. Roughly chop the flesh and place in a large bowl with remaining ingredients. Add the remaining ingredients and combine well. Top with parsley leaves, toasted sesame seeds (optional) and other fresh herbs and spices.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Slice the eggplants into wide strips and place on a shallow baking tray, lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, fresh thyme and freshly ground black pepper. Add 3-4 cloves of garlic (peeled). Cover the eggplant slices with parchment paper and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, until tender. Peel the eggplants and rough dice the flesh. Combine the eggplant with
the other ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. You can blend the mixture in a food processor for a smoother texture.
Grill or bake the whole eggplant on a grill or barbecue or 10-15 minutes until blackened. Turn the eggplant over and char the other side by cooking for an extra 10 minutes. Let the eggplant cook, slice in half, scoop out the flesh in strips. Place the flesh in a sieve or colander over a bowl to drain for a 30 minutes under a weight. Squeeze the slices between paper towels to remove any remaining water. Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan, add the garlic, tomato paste, cumin and coriander. Add the chilli powder and fry while stirring over a low heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the eggplant pulp to the pan, and season with salt, sugar and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a bowl. Garnish with thyme and serve warm of cold.