Smoky Eggplant Salad/Dip

Baba Ganoush

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Baba Ganoush is the father of eggplant salads and a sister to hummus, with minimal ingredients. There are various stories around the origins of this smoky dip, found throughout the Levant. In one history, there was a widely loved priest (papa) named Gnug. One day a student wanted to present a gift for him; he cooked Papa Gnug a meal composed of eggplant and vegetables. Gnug invited the village people to share in this meal. Impressed by his generosity, the people named the dish after him, “Papa Gnug.” But baba ghanoush translates as “pampered papa” in Arabic — in another story, there was a lovely girl who dearly loved her father who, as he was quite old, had almost no teeth. The girl created a smooth and comforting food by mashing the eggplant to feed and please her father.

No matter the origin, its enduring popularity is a testament to its taste. Serve baba ganoush with kebabs and other main dishes, or eat it simply with warm pita or other breads. Inam garnishes the dip with pomegranate seeds, walnuts, and pomegranate molasses. Some recipes call for tahini, others add a pinch of sugar, or a tablespoon of plain yogurt. The key to them all is to keep it simple.

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Ingredients

  • 2 medium globe eggplants (500 grams)
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 cloves garlic (8 grams)
  • 1 tomato (about 250 grams)
  • 1 large green bell pepper (about 100 grams)
  • 10 tablespoons (50 grams) chopped flat leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ cup pomegranate molasses
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) olive oil (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted and chopped walnuts, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds, for garnish

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Prick the eggplants with a fork, then place them on a baking sheet and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, turning a few times with tongs, until well charred on all sides and collapsed. Wrap the eggplants with foil and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes.

While the eggplants are cooling, add a pinch of salt to the garlic and crush in a mortar and pestle (or use the back of a knife on a cutting board.) Peel and seed the tomato, reserving the seeds for another use if you like, and then dice the flesh. Seed and dice the green pepper.

Carefully remove and discard the charred eggplant skin, then finely chop the flesh and transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Add the garlic, tomato and pepper, using a fork or wooden spoon to mash and stir the ingredients into the eggplant. Mix in the parsley, pomegranate molasses, and lemon juice, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Place in a serving dish and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and pomegranate molasses and a scatter of parsley and walnuts. Garnish with the pomegranate seeds.

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