Spicy Eggplant Dip (Baba Ganoush with a Texan Kick)

I learned how to make Lebanese food when I was visiting Acapulco, Mexico in 1990.  Sounds odd that I would learn to make Lebanese food in Mexico.  Here is the story.

I went to Acapulco in 1990 to present a research paper at a conference.  I was vegetarian at the time and this was my first visit to Mexico.  I found a Lebanese restaurant with a large vegetarian menu right next to our hotel.  The food was so good that I ate every meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner there.  I asked the waiter to introduce me to the cook.  He told me that his mother was doing the cooking and she would love to meet me since I kept coming back for every meal.  When I met his mother, I asked if she would teach me how to cook Lebanese food.  She said yes and taught me how to make many of her dishes.

This was so much fun.  My scientific conference turned into an unexpected culinary adventure.  I live in Texas now and I put a spicy Texan kick on this recipe.  Following are a few ways to serve Baba Ganoush.

Baba Ganoush Salad
Baba Ganoush Salad

 

Baba Gonoush Crudites Crudites
Baba Ganoush Crudites

 

Baba Ganoush Platter
Baba Ganoush Platter with Eggplant Chips.  The Grilled Eggplant Chip idea came from Xanthe LeBlanc at X-Rated Food Blog

 

INGREDIENTS:

Baba Ganoush Ingredients 1

  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 1 cup of tomato water
  • 1 cup of Tahini (sesame seed) paste.
  • 1 tablespoon Sherry Vinegar
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil to coat the eggplants and jalapenos and a bit extra for garnishing the platter
  • 1 teaspoon sumac (and additional for sprinkling on top)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • mint sprig for garnish
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Ingredient Note:  Traditionally this recipe is made with lemon juice instead of the sherry vinegar and tomato water.  I had no lemons available so I substituted tomato water and sherry vinegar.  If you are using the lemon juice, add the juice of one large lemon to a cup of water in place of the sherry vinegar and tomato water.

PREPPING THE EGGPLANT:

 

  • Use a small paring knife to poke holes in the eggplants and jalapenos.  This will prevent them from exploding in the oven during roasting.
  • Coat the eggplants and the jalapenos with olive oil and place in a glass baking dish.
  • Heat your oven to 450 F.  Roast the veggies until the skins are charred and the flesh is soft.  Use a pair of tongs to turn the veggies during the roasting process to ensure that the skin chars on all sides.
  • Pull out the jalapenos first since they will be done before the eggplants.  Set these aside for later in the recipe.
  • Once the eggplants are roasted.  Let them cool so you can handle them.  Peel off the skins, remove the seeds and use a cutting board and chef’s knife to finely chop up the eggplant.  Do not use a food processor because the eggplant will get gummy.

MAKING THE EGGPLANT DIP:

  • In a large food processor add, the roasted jalapenos, tomato water, sherry vinegar, sumac, smoked paprika, minced garlic and a half a teaspoon of salt and pepper.
  • Tahini is sesame seed paste.  When you open the jar you will see the sesame oil float on top like it does when you open up a jar of natural peanut butter.  Stir to mix the oil in and then add a cup of the paste to the food processor.
  • Turn the food processor on and blend until the mixture is smooth.  If the mixture is too thick add some water so that the consistency is like a thick pancake batter.
  • Taste the Tahini mixture and adjust the salt and pepper.
  • Add the eggplant mixture and pulse the food processor to combine gently.  Turn out in a glass bowl and finishing mixing by hand.  Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.  If you would like more acid then add sumac.

Turn out the dip onto a platter. Sprinkle some sumac.  Drizzle some olive oil and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Baba Ganoush Feature

RECIPE NOTE:

When my husband is firing the charcoal grill, I ask him to roast the eggplant on the charcoal.  This gives it a smokier flavor.  The oven works fine but the charcoal grill makes it extra special.

Chargrilled Veggies

Spring is here.  My husband fired up the charcoal grill for the first time this year.  I was inspired to do some quick and easy meal prepping for the week.

Take whatever fresh veggies you can find.  Slice them into thick pieces.  If you have peppers, leave them whole.  Just poke a hole in each pepper so that it does not explode during the cooking process.  Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with my Italian Spice Mix.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chargrilled Veggies Prep

In the photo above, I have tomatillos, baby carrots, baby turnips, eggplant, and a variety of peppers and squashes.  I also have Roma tomatoes but my husband put them on the grill before I had a chance to take the photo.

Grill the veggies till they are tender and charred.  I prefer charcoal but you can use whatever you like.

Chargrilled Veggies on The Grill

Once all the veggies are done.  Make a plate for today’s meal and refrigerate the rest in glass containers covered with plastic wrap.

Chargrilled Veggies Stored

 

Then all you have to do for the rest of the week is reheat the veggies and add proteins.  My husband also cooks different meats on the grill and reheats them later in the week.  I prep seafood for myself and cook what I need as my protein for the week.

Delicious, healthy and quick meals are easy to put together all week long.

 

Eggplant Bharta (curried mashed eggplant)

Bharta served with Rotis and My Mom’s Yogurt

Ingredients:  Serves 6-8

20160704_201500
2 large eggplants stuffed with garlic cloves

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  • 2 large eggplants (these were grown by my neighbor, Billy)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 chili pepper, minced
  • 3 inches of ginger root, minced
  • 1 teaspoon whole black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
  • grape seed oil (or any other neutral flavored oil)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prep:

20160726_200707

The onion and tomato are diced.  The ginger and chili are minced.

Prepping the mashed eggplant:

20160704_201500
2 large eggplants stuffed with garlic cloves
  • Separate the garlic head into cloves.  Peel the skin from each clove and cut it in half lengthwise.
  • Cut slits into the eggplants and insert a piece of garlic into each slit.
  • Rub each eggplant with grape see oil.  Place in a baking dish and roast at 450 F until the skin becomes charred and the flesh is soft.  NOTE: you will have to turn the eggplants over during the roasting process so that the skin is charred on all sides.

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  • Cut of the ends, score them with a fork and set aside for later.20160726_184528
  • Discard as many of the seeds as you can and scoop out the flesh.20160726_200158
  • Use a chef’s knife to finely mince the flesh.  DO NOT USE A FOOD PROCESSOR because it will make the eggplant gummy.20160726_200248

Cook:

  1.  Coat a large skillet with grape seed oil.  Add the onion, ginger, chili, black mustard seed , cumin and chili flakes.20160726_201150
  2. Turn the stove to medium and saute until brown (about 8 minutes)20160726_203620
  3. Add the garam masala and tumeric.  Let the spices toast for about a minute.
  4. Add the diced tomatoes.  Saute until the tomatoes are soft.20160726_204008
  5. Add the mashed eggplant and the 2 eggplant ends (when we were little my sisters and I would fight over the eggplant ends.  So mom made sure there was one for each of us.)  Saute for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the peas.  Let them saute for 2 minutes.

I have served the Eggplant Bharta with Rotis and My Mom’s Yogurt.  This is how my mom served it.  You can use this as a side dish with anything you like.