Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Baba Ghanoush: Filipino, Chinese & Asian Eggplant

Baba ghanoush is a Middle Eastern dish known as "poor man's caviar." It is a combination of tahini, garlic, lemon juice and salt and it is one of the 1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die. I tried baba ghanoush for the first time only recently, at Innabi Mediterranean Grill & New York Deli. Then more recently I tried it at Mr. Kebab. From a recent trip to Koreatown I had several different varieties of eggplant I needed to use up (Filipino - the two long thin, partially green pieces in the center of the plate below; Chinese  - the largest purple piece in the top part of the picture below; and Asian - the small round pieces in the bottom of the picture below) and decided it would be fun to try making baba ghanoush. 
I found a recipe for baba ghanoush on the internet which required a large eggplant, 1/4 cup tahini, 3 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup of lemon, a pinch of cumin, salt, a tablespoon of parsley, a tablespoon of olive oil and 1/4 cup of brine-cured black olives. I didn't have all of the ingrediants, namely the cumin, parsley, olives, or most importantly the tahini, but decided some of the missing ingrediants were not traditional anyway. Also, 1001 says that a Lebanese version does not use Tahini. I found a recipe for tahini which called for 5 cups of sesame seeds and 1 1/2 cups of olive oil. So, in place of the tahini, I decided to use just the olive oil. I pricked the eggplant with a knife in numerous places and put it on the outdoor grill, turning it until the skin was mostly black, for about 15 minutes. 
This is what provides it with the traditional smoky flavor. Then I put the eggplant on a cookie sheet in the oven at 375 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes. 
I removed the eggplant from the oven, allowed it to cool a bit, then peeled off the blackened skin. The skins below
and the peeled eggplant below.
Using a fork, I mashed the eggplant into a paste. Note that the Filipino eggplant which is mashed below, is greenish compared to the Chinese eggplant which is not mashed and which is white. 
Of course, the traditional eggplant in the U.S. is white and that is the color of the baba ghanoush I've seen. The picture below shows all of the eggplant mashed.

Then I added the olive oil, 3 cloves of garlic, lemon juice and salt 
and mixed it again. My creation did not taste anything like the baba ghanoush I've had, but it did have more of a smoky taste like the traditional baba ghanoush. It also did not look like the traditional baba ghanoush because it was green. 
But it was decent and I now know basically how it is made. It is quite easy and probably something I will try again sometime. 


  1. i enjoy your blog very much so, so here's a vietnamese version: after you bake/roast, peel cut up in chunks or inches, heat up wok/fry pan with olive oil garlic,green onions,soaked dry shrimp, add cut up eggplant stir fry gently so you dont' make a mush or break up, now add your version of fishsauce (can be sweet, lime,garlicky) serve with white rice or as a side some to some roast chicken.

  2. Thank you for this variation. It sounds very good.

  3. I've tried making baba ganouj a few times and it never tastes like the kind I get from the Labanese deli. I swear they put mayonaise in there, it's so much creamier and has a very buttery flavor.

  4. Your missing tahini. What you can do it's use while sesame seeds and put them in a coffee grinder or food processor if you don't have tahini