Baba ghanoush is one of my favourite dips and is hands-down the best use of aubergines for me. It it great with crunchy fresh vegetables or breadsticks and the like to dip into it.
I used the terrific Andrew James Chef’s Blowtorch to do the bulk of the work: the charring of the vegetables – which is also the most important part of making a baba ghanoush, giving a wonderfully deep, smoky flavour. My review on the blowtorch, along with other food uses, both sweet and savoury, is here.
I sometimes make baba ghanoush using just the blow-torch and without any use of the hob: you need to blow-torch the aubergines further to get them completely soft and simply crush the blow-torched garlic, aubergines and cumin together in a bowl, adding the herbs, seasoning and oil to them.
Charring the vegetables:
It it best to pop the vegetables on a metal tray to protect any other surfaces.
- aubergines: takes about 10 minutes to fully blow-torch and then peel 3 aubergines: you need to torch them until the skin blisters fully and the aubergines start to collapse. But this is still quicker and tidier than doing it on the gas flame or the bbq! Note: the aubergines must be pricked well all over, otherwise they might explode!
- garlic: apply the blowtorch over the unpeeled garlic for a few seconds, which will burn off the skin. Once the skin is off, blow-torch the flesh just a little
- cumin: give it a few blasts with the blowtorch
If you are using tomatoes, which are not needed for baba ghanoush although they can be included, simply blast them for a few moments all over to skin them, plus a little blasting on the flesh to give blackened areas.
The blow-torching can all be done in advance and made into the baba ghanoush whenever you are ready.
Recipe: baba ghanoush
- 3 large aubergines, pricked all over
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon smoked garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
- small handful fresh basil and a little fresh mint, roughly chopped
- crushed sea salt and freshly milled black pepper
- a few squirts of lemon juice
(1) Blow-torch the aubergines, garlic and cumin as descibed above. Leave them to cool a little and when cool enough to handle, peel off the aubergine skin and roughly chop the flesh. Roughly chop or crush the garlic. Roughly crush the fennel in a pestle and mortar.
(2) Gently fry the onions, the smoked garlic, cumin and seasoning in the oil for about 10-15 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the aubergines, the chopped garlic, a spritz of lemon juice and about half of the chopped mint and basil to the onions and fry gently for a further 5-10 minutes or so. The aroma will be sensational!
(3) Now either blitz the mixture in a food processor, trying to retain a few chunks, or crush lightly with a fork. Stir in another spritz of lemon juice, the remaining basil and the mint. Serve either warm or at room temperature.