Thursday, June 26, 2008

Baba Ghanoush - or how to best use the heat from your oven when you bake something


There are some things that you inherently learn from your mother. In days long past I think this was even more true, where mothers passed on their knowledge to their daughters, in preparation for adulthood, and being a mother themselves. This was the route by which many recipes were handed down from generation to generation.

My mother is a great cook, though now that all her children have left home, I don’t think she goes to much effort anymore. Growing up, she never made an effort to really teach me to cook, she was more concerned with us getting a good education and grounding. And I, a child of a migrant, desperately wished we didn’t eat such strange Arabic food, and could just eat what my friends were eating, things like tuna mornay and lamb chops (I’m serious!). Now that I cook for myself, I cannot believe I didn’t want these food experiences, and wish I had paid more attention when I was still at home. Trying to get recipes out of her is a little like pulling teeth, as she doesn’t HAVE recipes and bases quantities on sight and taste. I have however gotten used to this and have also started to cook this way, in fact, I am not sure I can even follow a recipe the whole way through!

Having said all that though, it is amazing how much I have picked up from my mother, without even really knowing it. Telling my husband to ‘finish his salad’ the other night, I had to stop and groan! And whenever we have guests, I cook enough for an army, in the very Arabic tradition of never ever ever not having enough food, in fact, needing enough food to make everyone feel so full they are sick. Guests at my place rarely need dessert (though they are getting it anyway).

I also have picked up a need to cook many vegetables and to utilise what I have in the fridge to my advantage and preferably never throw food away because I didn’t use it on time.

With this in mind on the weekend, as I put a roast and some potatoes in my oven for a Saturday night winter warmer meal, I glanced an eggplant in the crisper I had forgotten about and didn't have that much life left. Mmmm, eggplant dip (or Baba Ghanoush) it is then. After dinner I also decided to use the heat from the oven to bake some very naughty chocolate brownies but that is another story and not so healthy!

Growing up, we had baba ghanoush with pretty much every barbeque and every lamb roast. Eggplant and lamb are the best of friends and this dip is SO easy to make. I have read in some places that they BBQ the whole eggplant to get that really smoky flavour but I don’t think it needs it, and that the smokiness can sometimes get too intense. The oven is the easiest way to go anyway…

Baba Ghanoush

1 large eggplant (or more, just scale everything accordingly)
1 tablespoon Tahini (sesame paste)
1 Lemon
Handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
Black pepper and salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 clove garlic, mashed or bashed in a mortar and pestle

Pierce eggplant several times with a fork. Stick in a hot oven directly on the racks (with a tray underneath to catch any drips) and leave for 20 minutes before turning and leaving for another 20 minutes. It is ready when you can smell it and it has wrinkled up.

Take out of the oven and let cool for 10 minutes or until you can handle it. cut of the top, and then using a fork, remove all the inside bits, discarding the skin. Put in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mash with a fork (or food processor), until smooth. Plate up and garnish with olive oil and paprika. Easy!

This is great with flat bread, lamb, kebabs, chicken, the list goes on and on…

1 comment:

littlem said...

mmm.... I love baba ghanoush.