Super Smoky Babaghanouj

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Just as Autumn begins to turn cold and hints at what’s to come, we light our first wood fire and the family menu begins to change. Stock simmers gently on the stove, Anzac biscuits are made, hearty lentil dishes re- appear and eggplants dishes are back on the menu. During the eggplant ( aubergine) season, when they are large, cheap and white fleshed, I am secretly pleased to find a morning fire that is almost spent- save a few red coals and ash. The eggplants are thrown straight onto the coals- and the door to the wood heater is left open.This works equally well in a corner of an open fire.  After some time, I return and flip them over. Super smoky Babaghanouj is on the way.

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After retrieving the charred, blistered eggplants from the fire, slit them open and place in a colander over a bowl to drain. Lunch is some hours away but the flavour base is ready. Image

Today’s Babaghaouj recipe is adapted from Claudia Roden’s ‘Arabesque’. Leah, from the Cookbook Guru, is highlighting Claudia Roden’s recipes this month, in particular, those from the A New Book of  Middle Eastern Food. I have been making it this way for so long now: I have experimented with the addition of yoghurt and other flavours but have settled on this smoky dairy free version, with lots of garlic. I recommend that you give Leah’s a go too, especially if you are not into a strong smoky taste and you like the velvety texture that yoghurt brings.

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The Recipe

  • 2 small eggplants or 1 large one.( weight 650g)
  • 3 Tablespoons Tahini
  • juice of two large lemons
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed.
  • salt to taste
  • 1-2 teaspoons of freshly ground cumin.
  • EV Olive Oil
  • Parsley

After charring the eggplants in your left over fire, (as above), slit them open, drain them, and peel. Remove all the flesh, place in a food processor with the garlic,briefly process, then add tahini paste, process, then the lemon juice and salt to taste. In the meantime, heat a small pan, toast the cumin seeds, then grind them in a mortar. Add to the mixture. Taste. adjust salt or lemon. Swirl out flat on a plate and serve with falafel and other salads. Drizzle with a little EV Olive Oil and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

A couple of notes.

The Arabic term , Baba Ghanoush, means “pampered papa” or “coy daddy”, perhaps with reference to its supposed invention by a member of a royal harem. 

It really is worthwhile grinding fresh spices, if you use them. For me, it’s a chance to break out my baby mortar and pestle.

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19 thoughts on “Super Smoky Babaghanouj”

        1. I made mine from scratch for many years, and I think I used her recipe too. Mine were always really green with heaps of herbs- the thing I miss most using the dried version.

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  1. oh wow, this sounds amazing! I’m jealous of you having an open fire to be able to create delicious treats like this. Thank you for a wonderful contribution to this month’s Cookbook Guru.

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      1. You’d be surprised in the depths of winter how chilly it can get, but for now its nice for it to be just cool enough for a blanket on the bed. I’m missing my Melbourne autumns this year 🙂

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  2. Snap, Francesca, I have the same in my fridge from home grown aubergines! Love your version. Incidentally, you can source that Heilala vanilla powder online via the links in my post. And I have some some seeds of the mirabelle plums that we could try posting to you.

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  3. True- I am familiar with the Greek meaning because it is the same in Italian.The Greek Melitzanosalata is refreshing but lacks zing. I quite like the Indian version, Baingan Bharta, too. I am planning to give Mr Tranquillo a new title, Mr Baba Ghanouj, spoilt man that he is.

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  4. I love smoky babaghanouj too…what a great idea to put them on the coals. In the summer, I put mine on the BBQ with the lid closed until they get nice and charred.

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