I like the idea of aubergines much more than I like actually eating them, if you know what I mean. Luckily, baba ganoush is an aubergine dish specifically for people like me; who look at the deep purple colour of the veg (fruit?) and really WANT to like it, but whose insides do a little shudder when you get to that weird squishy texture. Baba G (new name) has such a deep, smoky, sexy flavour, with the contrasting tang of lemon juice and chilli and the tahini at the end making it super creamy.
It’s actually surprisingly easy to make, which is good news as it’s not particularly readily available in supermarkets. It looks well impressive and your mates will be all admiring and stuff when you stick a dish in front of them. This is a HFW recipe which I have tinkered with a bit (sorry Hugh).
It goes excellently with flatbreads or warm pitta for dunking. Also makes a mean sandwich filling with some chargrilled chicken or veggies and a crumble of feta. Because it’s versatile and all-round great it’ll keep in the fridge for a good few days as well HAHAHAHAHAHA AS IF IT’LL LAST THAT LONG. You tinker, you.
What you need:
Juice of 1 & 1/2 lemons
2 cloves garlic
4 tbsp tahini (apparently this stuff is the best ^, says the man in my local Mediterranean supermarket)
A pinch of chilli flakes
A pinch of salt
A sprinkle of smoked paprika (optional)
Chopped coriander (HFW says parsley, I like coriander better, sorry Hugh!
What to do:
1. First, you need to cook your aubergines in a way which gets that lovely, smokey flavour into them. HFW suggests cooking on a BBQ (impractical option; you’re at the mercy of the weather and no-one has time to dick around with firelighters and charcoal of an evening) or cooking straight on the gas on the hob (scary option). Alternatively he suggests roasting them at 400ºC for about 30-40m (the boring option). As a compromise between the boring and scary options, what I do is prick them with a knife and stick them under a really hot grill until they burn, basically. Burn those babies all over.
2. When they’re burned they’ll look all wrinkly and deflated like this ^, the skins will be crispy and when you open the grill you’ll be able to see steam coming from the holes you’ve made in the skin. Took me about 35 minutes to burn three aubergines to perfection.
3. Here comes the compromise, once they’re burned, to ensure maximum smokiness you finish them off by burning them on the hob as well. Don’t go overboard, a light touch is what’s needed here, not total immolation.
4. While you’re waiting for the aubergines, heat a tiny bit of oil in a pan and crush the garlic cloves into it. Cook it until it JUST starts to colour, then take it off the heat and put it in a bowl with a pinch of salt, pinch of chilli flakes (a guide, have it as hot or as mild as you like) and the lemon juice. Most baba g recipes use raw garlic, but I don’t because it repeats on me like you would NOT believe (TMI?). However, I think it’s only fair to say that in a taste test (my friends have been eating this stuff all week) the version with the raw garlic and slightly more chilli did also go down a storm so if you’re feeling brave – or don’t have to socialise for a while – instead of cooking the garlic just crush it into a bowl with the salt, chilli and lemon juice.
5. Once the aubergines are burned all over, put them to one side to cool (VERY IMPORTANT STEP, HEALTH AND SAFETY FIRST FOLKS) for about 10m. I’d leave them on a draining board as aubergines are incredibly watery and it’ll leak out of the holes you’ve made in the skin. Give them a squish to get excess water out too, you don’t want your dip to be too runny. When they’re cool, slit the skins and scoop out the flesh into the bowl you’ve put your garlic/salt etc into
6. Stir. Add the tahini. Stir again. Give it another stir. The flesh of the aubergines should disintegrate basically so you shouldn’t need to do any more than vigorous stirring to get a lovely, creamy dip.
7. Dust with some smoked paprika and some chopped coriander because you want it looking all beautiful…
8. Tah-dah! Congratulations, I’ll just start calling you Ottelenghi shall I?