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Baba Ganoush Dip

I love eggplant, absolutely love it. It's unfortunate that so many people have been put off by poorly-prepared, bitter eggplant. The bitterness is caused by a concentration of mild toxins in the fruit when it has grown too slowly. A few basic tips about eggplant (also known as aubergine or eggfruit):

  • Pick relatively small, heavy, dark eggplants.
  • You can "degorge" it to remove the bitterness. Cut into cubes or slices and sprinkle with salt, then leave for an hour or so to sweat out the toxins. Rinse it well to wash away both the bitterness and excessive salt. Pat dry before use.

A very simple and delicious eggplant dish is Baba Ganoush, also spelled Baba Ghanooj and various other spellings. This dish is popular all over the Middle East and Mediterranean, and varies hugely. I like it to taste strongly smoky. When I lived in Redfern, an inner-city suburb of Sydney, my corner store was run by a Turkish couple who made their Baba Ganoush by blackening whole eggplants in a wood fire in a 44-gallon drum. I'm surprised the smoke didn't bring the fire brigade, but perhaps it smelled so good no-one ever complained! Perhaps you could try this method next time you're having an outdoor barbeque, or even when camping? Makes an exotic change from the old fire-baked potatoes!

For the urban, indoor version, an oven is just fine.

Keep the eggplant whole. Prick the skin all over with a knife and place in a baking dish. Drizzle with a little oil, as this will speed up the cooking process. Cook in a moderate oven from 40 minutes to two hours. How long you cook it depends on your preference for degree of smoke-flavour. It should have collapsed and halved in size. Allow to cool enough to handle, then carefully cut it open and scoop out the flesh, discarding the burnt skin.

Add the following to taste:

  • Garlic (I use roasted garlic, tossed in with the eggplant & oil - but flakes, fresh or powder are also OK)
  • A little salt
  • Low-fat version: Natural Unsweetened Low Fat Yoghurt
  • Low-carb version: Double Cream, Lemon Juice, Olive Oil and Sesame Oil
  • Traditional: Tahini (Sesame Paste), Olive Oil, Lemon Juice.

If your eggplant is well enough cooked, you can just mash it all together with a fork. If you prefer a smoother texture, you can use a food processor. Garnish with a drizzle of sesame oil and sprinkle of paprika.

This fabulous smoky eggplant puree is great as a dip or spread. Some people have an allergic reaction to eggplant though, so be sure to check with your guests for any food sensitivities before serving.

 

LINKS

All-Creatures' Eggplant Page
nutritional info and recipes
all-creatures.org/recipes/i-eggplant.html

The World's Healthiest Foods: Eggplant
whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=22

Recipe Source's Eggplant Recipes
recipesource.com/fgv/vegetables/eggplant

retrokat.com - quite nice sites
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