Being raised in North America, but born in India, I have a different relationship with dips than the typical American. Dips aren’t something to be picked up at the store when company comes over, and certainly they are not made with dehydrated onions and a potpourri of anti-clumping agents. Dips made with roasted veggies, spinach, or legumes are what light my taste buds. My brother (you’ll hear way to much about him) makes a delicious Baba Ghanouj made with roasted eggplant. I want all the flavor of this dish, but I don’t want to spend quality overtime with a traditional eggplant.
Enter my favorite local farmer’s market. With the help of knowledgeable vendors and a child-like “what’s that?” I discovered Thai eggplant. It looks nothing like the original, and has the unique characteristic of being tasty raw. “Just bite it like an apple,” the sweet vendor said, taking a bite herself. Yes, well, it’s an acquired taste raw.
Cooked it’s a green and white stripped gift from heaven. The flavor is more mellow in the Baba Ghanouj allowing the flavors of the garlic, spices, and cilantro to shine on it’s buttery base. Give this version a try. “Baba” in Bengali and other Indian dialects means Father. I’ve named this warm recipe “Whoa Mama Baba Ganouj” because you’ll seek it’s comfort over and over, much like a favorite set of parents. A stretch? Try and see.
Whoa Mama Baba Ghanouj
- 2 lbs. Thai eggplant, washed and tops trimmed
- 4 cloves garlic, still in the skin
- 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil plus a bit more
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lemon, plus zest
- 1/4 c. tahini paste (a paste made from sesame seeds you can find in any market now-a-days)
- 1/4 tsp. coriander
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F
- Half or quarter any larger eggplant, leave the small ones alone. Combine eggplant and garlic with the skins still on in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer veggies to a baking pan and roast in oven until caramelized (cooking code for golden brown) and fragrant. The roasting should take about 20 mins. depending on your oven. Remove from oven when done and allow to cool.
- Separate the garlic (now roasted, sweet, and yummy) and squeeze out roasted goodness into a blender. Add 1/4 c. olive oil.
- Zest lemon and put zest aside. Add juice of lemon (about a 1/3 cup of juice) to blender. Add tahini paste, corriander, cumin, and add more salt and pepper. How much S&P? about 1/8 tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp salt. Just estimate. Then add the roasted eggplant and blend until smooth and creamy. Be careful if the eggplant is still hot. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Empty dip into a serving bowl and stir in lemon zest and chopped cilantro. Make a pretty spiral pattern on top with a flexible spatula and drizzle with a little, just a little, olive oil.
Serve with warm pita bread, pita chips, or my favorite…cucumber and carrot sticks, tomato wedges, and other fresh farmer’s market veggies.
Enjoy and tell me what you think! If you’d adjust the recipe, let me know…I’m not infallible after all.