Friday, December 2, 2011

Baba Ganoush - Roasted Eggplant Dip Video

Baba Ganoush- I just like saying it: "Baabaaa Ganoooossshh." It's a nonsense-sounding word (to English speakers, anyway).

And, an Eggplant just looks funny: a black/purple, oddly shaped, inflated veggie balloon (and, it's as light as one, too.) But, boy does it taste good in The 99 Cent Chef's latest recipe video. The other ingredients are cheap enough: sesame seeds, olive oil, chopped garlic, lemon juice, and a couple of optional ingredients: ground paprika and parsley.

Eggplant, like a whoopie cushion, deflates into a soft mass after it's baked in the oven for half an hour. While the skin is bitter, the mushy flesh is sweet. Baba Ganoush is finished with a quick spin in a blender or food processor. Serve it as a side -- or, cut pita bread into triangles and serve it as a dip at your next get-together.


Baba Ganoush, like hummas, is made with Tahini: peanut butter-like, oily, ground sesame seeds. In my video that's what I used. But, I also show you how to make a taste-similar version of Tahini -- easily made by adding a couple of tablespoons of sesame seeds to your coffee grinder (or spice grinder) and blending until it's a powder (it doesn't grind every last seed, but does well enough.) It's the same thing, really, just in a slightly damp powder form. It's the molecular gastronomic version a Top Chef would sprinkle over some deconstructed dish.


If your local market doesn't stock Tahini, and you're not interested in grinding sesame seeds, then you can  substitute with a teaspoon of peanut butter (just don't tell your Middle Eastern dining guests!) Peanut butter has a similar taste, but it's much stronger than Tahini, so you want to use half the amount.  Or, for the easiest option of all, just use sesame oil.  The taste is milder, but it will suffice.


So pull up a chair and check out the 99 Cent Chef's latest recipe video, for Baba Ganoush. It's a fun, stop-motion animated delight of time-lapse deflating eggplants -- full of icky, gooey, veggie innards that blends into a smooth delicious dip.
  Baba Ganoush - Video

Play it here. Video runs 3 minutes, 3 seconds.

To view or embed from YouTube, click here.

Ingredients (2-3 servings)
  • 4 Japanese eggplants - or, 2 regular eggplants. (I got about 1 1/2 cups cooked flesh.)
  • 2 tablespoons Tahini - You can make your own by adding 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds to a coffee grinder, and pulverize. Or, just blend in a 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, instead of olive oil. You could even substitute Tahini with a teaspoon of peanut butter.
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped garlic - fresh, or from jar.
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice - in the video I used lime.
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil - 1 for baking (optional,) 2 for blending, and 1 more for drizzling on Baba Ganoush before serving.
  • Handful of parsley - or tablespoon of dried. Save a chopped sprig for presentation. Optional.
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika - optional.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions
Slice into one side of the eggplant, or poke it all over with a fork -- you need to do this, or the eggplant may explode into a mess in your oven. Drizzle on a tablespoon of olive oil and rub on  eggplant skin. It doesn't need to cover every bit of eggplant surface; it just helps conduct the heat (oiling optional.)


Cover eggplant in a casserole dish, or place in a large pan (or cookie sheet) and cover with foil. I used Japanese eggplant so this was easy to do; however if you are using a more typical large eggplant, poke it, then just wrap it in foil. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.


When eggplant is done, unwrap it and allow to cool for 10 minutes. It will continue to seam and soften in its skin. After it is cool enough to handle, split it open and spoon out the soft flesh into a bowl or plate. Toward the tapering stem, the meat may be stringy, but still usable -- it will mash and blend fine. 


Finally, mix all the ingredients into a blender or food processor, and season with a dash of salt and pepper. Pulse and blend until it is a smooth mass, similar to hummus or cooked grits. You could also just mash it all together with a fork, until the texture is like oatmeal. The flavors deepen and intensify if you let the Baba Ganoush sit covered in the refrigerator for a couple of hours; then set it out until it reaches room temperature.


To serve, just spoon it into a serving bowl and sprinkle on some chopped parsley (optional) and finish with a light drizzle of olive oil. I like to cut up a pita into triangles, for easy scooping. For the carb-wary, substitute with some sliced veggie sticks like carrots, celery, broccoli, or any favorite crunchy veggie. It's fine to just plop some on the plate and use it like a sweet gravy.


Hindsight
I recently made the dish a second time, and I baked the eggplant without an olive oil coating and it softened fine, so you can leave out that step, if you want to.

As mentioned earlier, peanut butter is a convenient substitution -- just be sure to use half the amount asked for with Tahini. The next time I make it, I will try a version without the powdered paprika, or use even less. Usually when I get Baba Ganoush at a Persian or Israeli restaurant, they drizzle on olive oil, but you don't have to do this -- to keep things low calorie.

 I got a cup and a half of cooked flesh from the eggplant. Your amount may vary, but don't worry if you have less or more, just roll with it. Baba Ganoush is versatile enough to play around with adding and subtracting the ingredients -- that's what this chintzy chef does all the time, play in the kitchen!

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