The Almost Perfect Deliciously Smokey Baba Ghanoush Recipe

21 Oct

Unbelievably, this is the first time I have posted a Baba Ghanoush recipe. I love it – it is definitely one of my favourite things to eat but until recently I had not been happy with my own attempts a recreating the deliciously creamy smokiness of the excellent Baba (or mutabal) at my favourite Lebanese restaurant in Malaga.

Seeing this unusual aubergine growing by the side of the road featured in the picture below (no rude comments about its big nose please) and the incredibly cheap piles of gorgeous deep purple, brushed magenta or even lilac ombre specimens on sale at the market was encouragement enough for me to give it another go.

The key to really good baba is the smokiness. This usually comes from cooking the aubergines directly over an open flame until the skin is blackened and the flesh inside is very soft and collapsing when you squeeze it with tongs. The smoky flavour comes from the charred skin that permeates the flesh of the aubergine transforming it into one of the most delicious things on this earth. This is where my problem lies, I don’t have gas hob. I have a silly beep beep beep induction hob which is admittedly much easier to clean.

Or so he tells me.

I had read recipes before saying that you could get the same effect by grilling (or broiling US) them under a hot grill for 70 minutes. 70 minutes?! The idea of leaving something under a hot grill for 70 minutes scared me to death because I knew I would wander off and forget about them completely. So do you know what I did? I bought smaller aubergines. Genius I know. Instead of using 3 large aubergines that the recipe calls for, I use 6 or 7 baby ones. It’s so much quicker and I am less likely to burn the house down in the process.

The traditional way, if you have a gas hob, is to line underneath the burners with some aluminium foil, prick the aubergines all over with a sharp knife (you can use 3 large or 6 or 7 baby ones) then lay them directly on the flames, turning occasionally with tongs to make sure they are blackened on all sides and collapsingly soft inside. If you don’t have gas like me the recipe below comes  a very close second. Whatever you do don’t use roasted aubergines, the flavour will be very disappointing and nothing like the real thing.

Baba Ghanoush Recipe

Serves 4 as a snack with flatbread or crudities. Vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Nigel Slater

  • 6 or 7 small aubergines (mine were about 15 -18 cm long from the tip of the stalk to the bottom)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • the juice of a small lemon
  • 2 or 3 heaped tbsp tahini paste
  • 3 or 4 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • parsley or mint leaves to garnish
  • sesame seeds to garnish

Prick the aubergines all over with a sharp knife and cook under a hot grill (or over a gas flame), turning once the skin is blackened. Keep turning and leaving it to blacken on all four sides. The skin should be blackened and charred on all sides and the flesh inside very soft and collapsing when you pick it up with tongs.

Leave until cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthways and scrape out all of the flesh including any that is sticking to the skin (this is where all the flavour is). It doesn’t matter if some of the blackened skin gets into the bowl too this will be great for flavour.

Puree with a stick blender with the rest of the ingredients until just smooth (or still a little bit chunky) and then taste. Adjust the lemon juice, salt and tahini to your liking. To serve, drizzle with a little olive oil and scatter over some parsley or mint leaves and a few sesame seeds.

This is gorgeous served straight away still warm or at room temperature with some toasted flatbread or crudites for dipping.

This is one of the recipe from my first Vegetarian Mezze Cookery Workshop that I hosted yesterday at Pepe Kitchen in Benalmadena, Malaga. I would like to thank all of the lovely people who turned up to learn to cook and eat some of my favourite food, I really enjoyed it and hope you did too.

My next course is a Healthy Baking Workshop on Saturday 17th November when we will be making (and eating) tarts and  quiche made with spelt flour olive oil pastry, healthy sweet and savoury muffins including my favourite cherry tomato, pesto & goat’s cheese muffin made using wholemeal spelt flour and olive oil. Also my signature healthy breakfast or tea loaf made with flax seeds, oats, dates, raisins, honey and sunflower seeds. Hope to see you there…

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10 Responses to “The Almost Perfect Deliciously Smokey Baba Ghanoush Recipe”

  1. peasepudding October 21, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    I use the gas BBQ and if I’m really organised have aubergine to cook when we use the charcoal grill, you are right about flavour, it’s very flat without smokiness. The classes sound fun

  2. frugalfeeding October 21, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

    Gorgeous! I just did a recipe for this, though slightly less authentic! Isn’t it delicious? :D

  3. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide October 21, 2012 at 11:01 pm #

    Cool, I just saw frugal’s recipe. And um, nose? Not going there. This looks really great.

  4. annashortcakes October 22, 2012 at 3:29 am #

    I love baba ghanoush. Can’t wait to try your version!

  5. carolineelliott October 22, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

    Oh, wow, look at you being Grade A demonstrator – well done! I could have done with this recipe last week. I had a go at it doing them under the grill but, I still wasn’t that happy but my daughter loved it. Will now follow your recipe to the letter and expect fab’ results. Hayley has gone away with your picnic cake recipe. See you soon. C xxx

    Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2012 17:12:34 +0000 To: theladyo@hotmail.com

  6. Three Well Beings October 24, 2012 at 6:10 am #

    Nice! I’ve had “good” baba ghanoush, and not-so-good! I think it is the degree of smokiness, as you describe. I really like it when that taste comes through. I’d love to make it myself, and control that part. :-)

  7. dassana October 31, 2012 at 12:33 am #

    i recently made baba ghanoush and just loved it. since i have gas burner i smoked it for a longer time than usual and the increased smokiness gave so much depth to the baba ghanoush than what i have had in the lebanese restaurants here.

  8. carolineelliott May 2, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    This might ring a few bells about what is and, what is not important for a good and happy life. Disfruta! Sorry about this, honey bun, as you will see, I have really gone to press this morning. Just passing on what I think is valid and helpful info’. Hope I’m not gunking up your in box. Cxxxx

    Date: Fri, 26 Apr 2013 12:04:55 +0100 Subject: Fwd: FW: Beautiful Parable…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Roasted Beetroot Hummus with Toasted Flatbread Crackers « Cook Eat Live Vegetarian - January 1, 2013

    [...] crackers are also great served with Baba Ghanoush, Muhammara or even [...]

  2. Za’atar Spice Roasted Red Cabbage Steaks | Cook Eat Live Vegetarian - March 6, 2013

    [...] these as a side dish or for a party as part of a mezze table with some Baba Ghanoush, Muhammara, Sweet Potato Filo Cigars , Roasted Beetroot Hummus and this Lebanese Lentil [...]

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