Sweet Baba! Smoky Eggplant Dip

I’m a recent eggplant convert. I always found eggplant a bit bitter and astringent. But now I realized most times I tried eggplant it wasn’t cooked properly. When it’s done right it can be luxurious and unctuous. I have a few followers on Instagram who are diehard eggplant recipe conoisseurs so I have enjoyed finding new recipes to share with them (Filipino eggplant tortang talong, Moroccan zaalouk, Lao Fish and Eggplant soup, Sichuan Yu Xiang eggplants with mushrooms and the list goes on).

The key to a good eggplant is it needs to cook long enough to get creamy. There are a few ways to get to this consistency. Frying definitely works but the temperature of the oil is crucial because eggplants can be like sponges and soak up a lot of oil. I like to cook cubes of eggplant in olive oil on a stove top but you have to be quite patient. The most foolproof way is to char the eggplants on an open flame, whether it’s charcoal, a BBQ or your open gas flame. But for people who don’t have those options,  your oven will be your best friend in this! Poke some holes in your eggplants with a fork and brush the eggplants with a little bit of oil. Prepare a baking sheet and preheat your oven to 375F. You will need to roast these for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size and type of eggplants. I like to turn them over at least once during the cooking process. You are looking for a deflated eggplant and for it to be soft to the fork. Your eggplant is ready when the skin peels off almost like paper and the inside is creamy.

I go over the cooked eggplants with a rough chop but I don’t blend my babaghanouj because I like some texture. Babaghanouj is similar to hummous in a lot of ways in terms of the added ingredients. To your eggplants, you will add a couple of scoops of tahini, the juice of a lemon, a clove of garlic, olive oil and salt. I garnished mine with pomegranate arils and some fresh flat-leaf parsley (Italian parsley). You can use cumin or smoked paprika as additional seasonings if you choose to! This is a great dip/mezze for dipping some pita or veggies into!

Bon appetit Simmerlings!

-TSP

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