Authentic Baba Ghanoush is not what you think it is! This bright and tangy eggplant dip combines fresh finely chopped vegetables like onions, tomatoes and parsley, with mashed and roasted eggplant. A drizzle of pomegranate molasses, olive oil, and fresh crushed garlic give it its unique tangy and zingy flavour. And that's right, this dip does not use tahini, contrary to many more westernized versions (read on ahead for more on this!). Eggplant lovers - this one is for you.
Baba Ghanoush vs. Mutabal - Let's clear up the confusion!
Contrary to popular belief, Baba Ghanoush is not what we typically see at restaurants and in grocery stores. The creamy eggplant dip you are used to seeing is actually known as Mutabal in the Levant (namely the countries of Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Jordan), where the dip originates from. Let's compare the two:
- Baba Ghanoush: Roasted eggplant, salt & pepper, garlic, lemon juice. Finely diced onion, tomato, parsley and sometimes peppers, along with pomegranate molasses.
- Mutabal: Roasted eggplant, salt & pepper, garlic, lemon juice. Tahini and sometimes yogurt.
While both start with a base of roasted eggplant, lemon juice and crushed garlic, mutabal uses tahini and yogurt for a final creamy dip. Baba ghanoush uses finely diced vegetables and pomegranate molasses for a final result that resembles more of a tangy salad.
Now the above explanation holds true for countries like Lebanon, Syrian, Palestine and Jordan. There's a slight caveat which is that in Lebanon, the baba ghanoush version is actually called salatat el raheb.
To add more confusion to all of this, there are some countries that still call the creamy tahini version "baba ghanoush", like Iraq and Egypt. My explanation for that is like the west, this levantine dip may have made its way to surrounding countries and confused the terminology along the way.
Okay, let's not forget to address the name. In Arabic "baba" literally means dad and "ghanoush" means spoiled or pampered. So it was one pampered daddy who invented this dish. Or maybe he's the one that requested it.
Baba Ghanoush Ingredients:
- Eggplant, the star ingredient! It's typically roasted over an open flame, like a gas stove or a BBQ until the skin gets charred and the insides become really soft. But if you don't have an open flame, you can roast it in the oven like I do.
- Pomegranate Molasses, a core ingredient that adds a distinct tartness to the dip
- Lemon Juice, as little or as much as you like.
- Crushed Garlic, a little goes a long way since we are using fresh garlic which is very pungent.
- Salt, add salt near the end and adjust it to your taste. But remember that eggplant loves salt.
- Onions, tomatoes and parsley, these are a must and they should be finely diced. I also add peppers sometimes for more crunchy elements.
- Olive oil for garnish.
- Optional: extra parsley and pomegranate seeds to make it look pretty and add some crunch
How to make Baba Ghanoush
You start off by preheating your oven and preparing the eggplant. Simply wash the eggplant and make slits all around using a knife. Then lay it on a foil covered sheet and roast it until soft
Scoop out the flesh of the eggplant and place it on a sieve over a bowl to drain the extra liquid.
Mash the eggplant together until you form a chunky dip.
Mix in the chopped onions, tomatoes and parsley, along with the garlic, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice and salt.
Taste and adjust, then make it look pretty! I love adding pomegranate seeds on top with pine nuts and parsley.
Ideas for serving Baba Ghanoush
My favourite way to eat it? With pita chips that I make by roasting them in the oven for a few minutes with some olive oil. Soooo good. Here are other ways you can enjoy Baba Ghanoush:
- With any type of bread or pita chip for dipping
- On a Mezze platter with things like hummus, jajik, falafel, tabouli and a different type of eggplant dip
- With fresh cut vegetables like cucumber, cherry tomatoes, carrots, peppers, and celery
- As a topping on your salad or in a lunch bowl
- As part of your shawarma plate
- Just spread it on toast and top it with fresh veg
You get the picture! Basically any which way. It's that good.
For more easy dips and sides, check out:
Baba Ganoush (Middle Eastern Eggplant Dip)
- 2 large eggplants approximately 400g each for a total of 800g
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- Juice of ½ small lemon approximately 2.5 tablespoons
- ½ tsp salt per preference
- 2 small cloves garlic crushed
- ¼ cup finely chopped onions
- ¼ cup finely chopped tomatoes
- ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
- Start by preheating your oven to 450F
- Wash and dry your eggplant, then pierce it using a knife to create several slits all around the eggplant, about 4-5 times. This helps the steam escape
- Place the eggplant on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, or until it is really soft and can be easily pierced with a fork
- Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh using a fork or spoon. Place it in a sieve over a bowl and allow it to drain its liquid for a few minutes
- In a bowl, mix together the eggplant flesh, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, salt, garlic, onions, tomatoes and parsley and mash it well using a fork. This will create a chunky consistency.
- Adjust the baba ganoush to your liking
- Serve the baba ganoush topped with olive oil, pomegranate seeds and/or parsley
- Recipe yields 4 servings if served as an appetizer / dip. If it's for a main meal, it would be around 2 people.
- Raw garlic can have a strong taste, so make sure you add it only a bit at a time and adjust it per preference if you are sensitive to a strong garlic taste