Raquel Pelzel’s Baba Ghanouj, from our recent Eggplant edition, is pretty near perfect (and we’ve eat lots of babas in our day)—smoky and rich with just the right amount of acid. It’s perfect for snacking on, easy to make, and it comes with quite a story. So what are you waiting for?
From Raquel: "Baba ghanouj is a vagabond of a dish, as much Israeli as it is Lebanese, Syrian or Palestinian. Salam, a restaurant on Chicago’s far North Side, has undergone a slick renovation since I lived in Chicago 20 years ago, but it was once a hole in the wall with the best falafel, hummus and baba. My dad went there religiously for two decades; he was addicted to their foul (a dish of warm Egyptian fava beans, olive oil and garlic) and I went for the baba ghanouj, which was at once garlicky and smoky, creamy and eggplanty. My dad would order and say thanks, shukran, in Arabic and they’d respond bevakasha, you’re welcome, in Hebrew. It was our little slice of delicious and peaceful cohabitation."
Salam Baba Ghanouj
SERVES 4 to 6
2 large eggplants (2 to 2½ pounds total)
3 medium garlic cloves
½ cup tahini
½ cup ice water
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1¾ teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Using a fork or paring knife, make a few holes in one side of each eggplant (the little holes act like vents so steam can escape while the eggplant cooks). Place an oven rack in the upper-middle position of the broiler and preheat the broiler to high heat (or prepare a medium-high charcoal or gas grill).
Place the eggplants on a foil-lined baking sheet (or directly on the grates if using a grill) and broil until they start to blacken, about 8 minutes (check often, as broiler intensities vary). Using tongs, turn the eggplants and cook the other sides until the stems and rounded ends feel tender when pressed, about 8 minutes longer (you can also char directly over a gas flame on the stovetop). Set the eggplants aside to cool, then slit them open and scoop out the flesh and transfer it to the bowl of a food processor.
Meanwhile, blanch the garlic: Add the garlic to a small saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Drain and repeat, then set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, combine the tahini, ice water, ¼ cup of lemon juice, the salt and parsley. Finely grate the garlic over the tahini mixture and whisk to combine. Pour the tahini mixture over the eggplant and pulse or process until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Taste and adjust with more lemon juice or salt if needed. Serve with pita.
Shop Volume 22: Eggplant here