One of my enduring memories of travels through the Middle East has to be the smoky flavour of roasted eggplants (or aubergine if you are continental!). In Turkey it was the classic Ottoman dish hünkar beğendi or Sultan’s Delight, and in Lebanon it was baba ghanouj. In both of these dishes, the eggplants are roasted over open gas flames until the skin is charred, which imparts the most amazing smoky flavour.
Eggplants are also one of my favourite vegetables because it’s just so damn versatile and it absorbs all the wonderful flavours that you put with it. Continuing on with my latest Arabic theme, here is my recreation of this pureed eggplant dip.
You will need:
2 medium sized eggplants
3 tbsp tahini, or to taste
Juice of one lemon, or to taste
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
Salt and pepper
Roast the eggplants over a gas flame, turning occasionally until the skin starts to char and the flesh is soft. When they’ve cooled enough to handle, peel the skin off carefully, making sure you leave the brown smoky bits on the flesh. Give the eggplants a rinse to make sure all the charred skin has been peeled off and then squeeze out any excess moisture. Chop the flesh until it’s a nice and fine pulp. You’ll be able to smell the smokiness of the eggplant!
Put the tahini, lemon juice and minced garlic into a bowl and whisk together until it’s lovely and creamy. Tip in the eggplant pulp and mix it together until it’s all blended and smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste, and then serve with a drizzle of olive oil on top and a sprinkle of chopped parsley or whatever you like.
Eat with lots of fresh Lebanese or Turkish bread – enjoy!