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How to Make Baba Ghanoush
Baba Ghanoush is a traditional Middle Eastern dish that is so beloved, it traveled the ancient world from India to Morocco. While recipes will vary, the basics of this fantastic dish remain roasted eggplants, olive oil, tahini (kind of a sesame butter), garlic, and lemon juice. The base for this dish is fire roasted eggplant. To get these eggplants just right, you need a lot of heat -- not the kind of heat your oven can pump out, but the heat from your grill.
The best method for cooking eggplant is to throw them whole right into the burning coals of a charcoal grill. This will cook them in about 10 minutes, depending on their size. Lay out an even layer of hot coals and simply place the eggplants right on the fire. Have a pair of long handles tongs ready to grab a hold of them.
This process can also be done on a gas grill. Preheat the grill to its highest temperature and place the eggplants on the grill grates over direct heat. This will take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes for them to cook through completely. Keep the lid down to maximize the grills heat.
For the sake of the recipe, let's assume we are using about one pound of eggplant.Continue to 2 of 8 below.
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As the eggplant cooks the meaty flesh inside will give up its moisture. Eggplants may seem dry, but they actually hold a lot of water. It is this water that contains the bitter flavor of the eggplant. By roasting the eggplants as hot as possible, it will allow this liquid to drain out of the punctured skin.
Because of their density, eggplants can hold quite a bit of heat and will continue cooking after they are removed from the grill. This is why we need them almost cooked versus completely cooked. Once the skin is crispy, charred and loose, remove the eggplants from the heat. The eggplants should deflate and become squishy all the way through. Handle them gentle, turning to char the surface on all sides and remove them from the fire as soon as they are completely deflated and evenly charred.Continue to 3 of 8 below.
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Resting the Eggplant
Let the eggplants rest and cool down. You don't want the eggplant flesh too hot because it will make it hard to work with and it will cook the other ingredients. As the eggplants cool down they tend to collapse and lose more of the bitter liquid. Let them cool to a comfortable temperature before doing anything else.Continue to 4 of 8 below.
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Once the eggplants are cool enough to work with, it's time to peel off the skin. This skin is not very tasty at this point since it is charred and burned. Make sure you remove it all.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
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Give the eggplant flesh one last squeeze to remove the last of the bitter liquid. Once this is done, you are ready to make Baba Ghanoush.Continue to 6 of 8 below.
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The ingredients for our Baba Ghanoush are:
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini
1 pound eggplants, roasted
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Tahini is a sesame paste similar to peanut butter, but with sesame seeds instead of peanuts. This product is available at most stores. It is typically found in Middle Eastern foods or health food sections. If your local grocery store doesn't have it, try a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern food store.Continue to 7 of 8 below.
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Process Ingredients Until Smooth
Put all the ingredients (except the 1 tablespoon of olive oil) into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.Continue to 8 of 8 below.
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Pour mixture into a bowl or serving dish and top with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
Baba Ghanoush is typically treated like a dip. Serve it with fresh cut vegetables, chips or toasted pita cut into triangular sections.