• Baba ganoush

    It's a bit messy, maybe, to roast an aubergine on your gas hub. However, the smokey flavour of your baba ganoush is worth the effort, says The Epicurean.

    I woke up knowing I wanted something vegan and spicy today, but it wasn’t until lunchtime that I settled on what that would be. Looking at what ingredients were available, I discovered three plump aubergines that I had bought a few days earlier and I knew immediately what lunch was going to be: baba ganoush.

    Baba ganoush, which is not usually as heavily spiced as this version, is a salad or dip with four essential ingredients: smoky roasted aubergine, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Its consistency ranges from silky smooth to chunky, but its essence is always the same: satisfying, savoury, slightly sharp aubergine on toasted pita triangles or, if gluten is not your thing, vegetables cut up into long batons.

    Roast the aubergine

    There’s little to prepare except for the aubergine, but that can sometimes be tricky. To get the most smoke into a baba ganoush, the aubergines really must be roasted. This can be accomplished on a gas or charcoal grill, but I prefer doing it directly over the gas flame of a hob.

    Place each aubergine on a separate gas ring and roast over a medium flame for about 15 minutes, rotating every few minutes until the aubergines have collapsed, their skin blistered and burned, their interiors softened.

    It makes a bit of a mess, I won’t lie, but you can line the hob with a bit of aluminium foil if you want to make cleaning up easier. You can also cook the aubergines under a hot grill in your oven (that will take about 1hr), but you’ll lose the smokiness of the hob method.

    Scoop out the flesh

    Put the aubergines on a plate, slice them open lengthwise and leave for 5 minutes to cool down. Then scoop out the flesh (along with a few of the blackened skin pieces; they just add to the flavour) and drain in a sieve for about 20 minutes to lose some of the water and to intensify the aubergine’s taste.

    When you’re ready, place the aubergines in a bowl and mash them roughly with a fork (or use a blender if you want a really smooth baba ganoush). Add the tahini (sesame paste), olive oil, finely chopped or crushed garlic and all the spices. Mix well and season with salt.

    Add the lemon juice and taste again. The lemon should not overpower the smokiness of the aubergine, but be there, in the background, to balance it. Stir in the chopped parsley and scatter some pomegranate seeds over the baba ganoush for colour and texture. It can be served as a salad alongside roasted meats or with some pita bread and vegetables for lunch.

    Anastasios Sarampalis is a lecturer at the Psychology Department.

    Interested? Then print the text version of this recipe!