Just as Autumn begins to turn cold and hints at what’s to come, we light our first wood fire and the family menu begins to change. Stock simmers gently on the stove, Anzac biscuits are made, hearty lentil dishes re- appear and eggplants dishes are back on the menu. During the eggplant ( aubergine) season, when they are large, cheap and white fleshed, I am secretly pleased to find a morning fire that is almost spent- save a few red coals and ash. The eggplants are thrown straight onto the coals- and the door to the wood heater is left open.This works equally well in a corner of an open fire. After some time, I return and flip them over. Super smoky Babaghanouj is on the way.
After retrieving the charred, blistered eggplants from the fire, slit them open and place in a colander over a bowl to drain. Lunch is some hours away but the flavour base is ready.
Today’s Babaghaouj recipe is adapted from Claudia Roden’s ‘Arabesque’. Leah, from the Cookbook Guru, is highlighting Claudia Roden’s recipes this month, in particular, those from the A New Book of Middle Eastern Food. I have been making it this way for so long now: I have experimented with the addition of yoghurt and other flavours but have settled on this smoky dairy free version, with lots of garlic. I recommend that you give Leah’s a go too, especially if you are not into a strong smoky taste and you like the velvety texture that yoghurt brings.
- 2 small eggplants or 1 large one.( weight 650g)
- 3 Tablespoons Tahini
- juice of two large lemons
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed.
- salt to taste
- 1-2 teaspoons of freshly ground cumin.
- EV Olive Oil
After charring the eggplants in your left over fire, (as above), slit them open, drain them, and peel. Remove all the flesh, place in a food processor with the garlic,briefly process, then add tahini paste, process, then the lemon juice and salt to taste. In the meantime, heat a small pan, toast the cumin seeds, then grind them in a mortar. Add to the mixture. Taste. adjust salt or lemon. Swirl out flat on a plate and serve with falafel and other salads. Drizzle with a little EV Olive Oil and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
A couple of notes.
The Arabic term , Baba Ghanoush, means “pampered papa” or “coy daddy”, perhaps with reference to its supposed invention by a member of a royal harem.
It really is worthwhile grinding fresh spices, if you use them. For me, it’s a chance to break out my baby mortar and pestle.