I’ve only tasted baba ghanoush once before, but loved its smoky mysterious flavour and have often considered making it myself. As I suddenly had a big bag of aubergines at my disposal, now seemed the ideal time to try it out.
There is a minefield of recipes and variations out there, but after a quick hunt I went with a recipe by Nigel Slater, whose recipes I trust. The only substitution I made was to use sesame seed oil in place of the tahini and olive oil called for, as I didn’t have any tahini. The recipe instructs you to char the aubergines over a lit gas ring, but I decided to roast my aubergines in a really hot oven until the skins were blackened. I live in a flat with a very sensitive smoke alarm and I don’t think the neighbours would have been too happy if I’d set them off from attempting to roast veg over the flames. I think roasting is a better idea anyway, as my aubergines released some liquid during their roasting, which otherwise would have spilled out over the oven top creating a terrible mess.
Once roasted and withered the aubergines smelt lovely. Slightly earthy yet also surprisingly sweet and slightly smoky. Aubergines can be a bit spongy and slimy if not cooked well, but after roasting I slit the skins and the flesh inside was so soft and silky I could scoop it out with a spoon!
I made a slight mistake of blitzing the aubergine with the garlic and oil rather than chopping it, meaning my baba ghanoush was more of a dip/paste than chunky but this didn’t stop it being delicious. It also meant it was far easier to dip crudités into and as a tasty and different sandwich filling.
The flavour of the aubergine was surprisingly good. Sweet with a slight roasted flavour from the blackened aubergine skin, not used in the dip but it did impart some flavour. It was also surprisingly creamy with a good strong kick of garlic, tangy fresh lemon and then a mellow nuttiness from the sesame oil. I loved eating it with falafel. I’ve often said I’m not a fan of aubergine, but this has changed my mind. A long roast until the aubergines are soft and yielding is clearly the way to eat them.
Recipe adapted from Nigel Slater
3-4 large aubergines
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
Juice of ½ lemon
Small handful fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to season
Preheat the oven to 250C.
Wash the aubgergines and prick their skins all over with a sharp knife. Place onto a baking tray and roasted for 45 minutes until they are beginning to whither and soften. Remove from the oven, flip the aubergines over and roasted for a further 15 minutes. They should be soft and collapsed. Leave to cool slightly.
Roughly chop the garlic and add to a small food processor. Add the oils and lemon juice and blitz until the garlic is in small pieces.
Scoop out the flesh from the aubergines, discarding the skins. Add to the food processor along with the parsley and pulse until combined but still a little chunky. (I did mine too long and got a smoother paste).
Season with salt and pepper to taste.