March 01, 2013

Baba Ganoush (Aubergine Dip)

I planned to start the year with more posts and recipes and before I knew it, it was March.  In my last post I mentioned that I would start weaning my son on solids – well finger foods actually.  It all started so well.  I’ve never seen a baby so excited to eat cold, steamed broccoli (which helped with the teething, by the way).   That was his first food and we haven’t looked back since then.  We traveled back home to South Africa for a few weeks and my BLW plan went slightly askew.  We are now back in Dubai and doing a combination of finger foods and spoon feeding.  Oh well, what to do, as long as he’s eating and happy - I couldn’t have asked for an easier child.

We are well into spring (although it feels like early summer) and we are still receiving weekly vegetable deliveries from a local farm, Greenheart Organic Farms.  The thing with local vegetables in this country is that they always seem to have the same basic vegetables – aubergines (also known as eggplant), and koosa (Arabic courgette) are two vegetables that are guaranteed to be there.  Although I love these vegetables, I sometimes run out of ideas on what to do with them.   

Lately, I've been making a lot of Baba Ganoush with the aubergines.  We usually get two medium sized aubergines which is just enough to make the recipe for today.  This is a very easy and basic recipe for Baba Ganoush - it's creamy and mild enough for all three of us, making it an ideal family recipe.  You can use it as a dip with crudités or spread it on toast and cut into fingers for babies and toddlers to munch on.  At the moment, I’m making mine without salt, for weaning purposes, but you can adjust the seasoning and lemon to your taste.  I also prefer a smooth and thick dip but if you prefer a thinner consistency, just add a little more olive oil.  This recipe is very forgiving – you can’t go wrong.

Baba Ganoush 
Makes about 1 cup / 250ml

2 medium whole aubergines
Juice of half a lemon, or more to taste
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp tahini paste
Pinch of ground cumin
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley or coriander
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.   

Wash the aubergines and pierce each one with a knife a few times.  Place onto a small greased baking pan and bake uncovered for about 1 hour, turning once halfway during cooking.  The skin will start to bubble and wilt on the outside and it should be very soft inside – this is what makes this dip so creamy.  When it’s done, remove from the oven and allow to cool.  

Once cooled, scoop out the soft aubergine flesh into a bowl and discard the skin.  Add the remaining ingredients and purée with a hand blender until smooth.  You can also use a food processor or just mash everything with potato masher (if you want it a bit chunkier), but I find a blender works well for a creamy dip.  Check the seasoning and lemon to taste, and adjust the consistency with extra olive oil if you wish.  Pour into a container with a lid and seal.  Refrigerate until required.