One of many Lebanese style versions of Baba Ghanouj!
Baba Ghanouj originated in the ancient Levantine (Bilad ash-Sham) region. The old Levantine region runs along the eastern mediterranean coastline from Southern Turkey to the Palestine and it runs east through Northern Iraq. Syria, Jordan and Lebanon are in this region. Many modern middle eastern recipes have their roots in the Levantine region.
Both Syria and Lebanon have boasted a great food reputation for thousands of years. My step grandfather was a great Syrian Lebanese chef and I learned a lot from him. His style of cooking made the most amount of flavor from the fewest ingredients. That cooking philosophy seems to be the key to all mediterranean cuisine.
There are many modern versions of baba ganoush. There are also several spellings of baba ganoush from region to region. Post colombian exchange ingredients like peppers and tomatoes have found their way into baba ganoush recipes. Regional herbs and spices add character to local recipes for this mezze. Mayonnaise has even taken the place of tahini in some modern recipes.
There are four basic requirements for a good old fashioned baba ganoush. Eggplant, tahini, lemon and garlic. Onion is usually added too. Many Lebanese recipes require spice seeds to be toasted and then coarsely ground. For this recipe toasted cumin seed adds a very nice traditional flavor. A small amount of dried mint or parsley is commonly added in Lebanese recipes.
This recipe is an old fashioned baba ganouj that has an old fashioned flavor. It is not how many ingredients that are added that makes baba ganouj great, it is the proportions of the basic ingredients and good simple cooking techniques that make baba ganouj a great mezze!
Baba Ganouj Recipe:
One thing to keep in mind is that tahini (sesame paste) readily absorbs liquid and then is becomes very stiff and thick. A little bit of tahini goes a long way!
Roast 2 long Chinese purple eggplant over an open flame, till the skin turns black.
Note: Open flame, embers or char grill roasting is best, because it gives the eggplant a smokey roasted flavor. The eggplant can also be roasted under a broiler. Once the skin is charred black, it can easily be removed.
Allow the eggplant to cool to room temperature.
Scrape the charred skin off of the eggplant. Be sure that no small bits of charred skin remain!
Finely chop the roasted eggplant.
Place the roasted eggplant into a mixing bowl.
Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of tahini.
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice.
Add 2 tablespoons of minced bermuda onion.
Add sea salt and black pepper.
Add 1 pinch of dried mint.
Add 1 tiny pinch of marjoram.
Place a saute pan over medium/medium low heat.
Add 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds.
Dry toast the cumin seeds, till they become aromatic and very lightly browned.
Remove the pan from the heat.
Add 2 tablespoon of virgin olive oil to the pan.
Note: The olive oil will help to cool the roasting cumin seeds in the hot pan and the oil will heat and become infused with the roasted cumin seed flavor! The carry over heat after the pan is taken off of the burner is enough to heat the oil.
Pour the hot virgin olive oil through a small fine mesh strainer into the ingredients in the mixing bowl.
Coarsely grind the roasted cumin seeds with the side of a chef knife or cleaver.
Add the coarsely ground roasted cumin seeds to the ingredients in the mixing bowl.
Mix the ingredients together.
Place the baba ganouj into a shallow small serving dish.
Garnish with black olives, sliced pickled lemon and parsley leaves. (Persian or Arabic pickled lemon can be found in middle eastern markets.)
Place the garnished baba ganouj on a serving platter.
Serve with warm khubz arabi (pita bread) that is cut into bite size scooping pieces.
Place the baba ganouj dish on a serving platter.
This baba ganouj recipe has an old fashioned earthy flavor that is very appealing! The toasted cumin seeds add a warm comfortable feeling.
Baba ganouj is deceptively filling. The tahini causes an empty tummy feeling to disappear. The baba ganouj texture seems light from the eggplant, but after a 30 minutes, the tahini makes one feel full. Yum! Shawna