Baba Ghannouj, or “Poor Man’s Caviar” is quite possibly the most delicious food I’ve ever tasted. I first started making this delectable Middle Eastern dip when I worked at Kimi Ora, the health resort in Kaiteriteri and it’s been a firm favourite ever since. I believe the best cooking method is to crank up the barbecue and char the eggplants until they are wrinkled and blackened, which adds a smokey depth of flavour that permeates the dish. Alternatively you can grill or roast the eggplants.
Not only delicious, Baba Ghannouj is also equally nutritious. Eggplants are low in calories, rich in soluble fibre and are a good source of minerals such as iron, copper and potassium. Tahini, which is a paste of finely ground sesame seeds, is also rich in vitamins and minerals, including methionine, an essential amino acid and lecithin, which reduces fat levels in the blood and protects against environmental toxins. Tahini is 20 percent protein and is a rich form of calcium, which makes it a superfood star, especially for those partaking in a vegan or dairy-free diet. Tahini also comes in two different guises – one made from unhulled sesame seeds which is darker, has a stronger flavour and is richer in nutrients. The other is from hulled sesame seeds, which has a subtler flavour and is what I personally think works best in this dish.
2 small eggplants
2 – 4 cloves of garlic, depending on how garlicy you like it
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons of hulled tahini
1 teaspoon of himilayan rock salt
1/2 a teaspoon of cumin (optional)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Small handful of parsley
Pierce skins of the eggplants in a few places with a fork.
EITHER: Roast the eggplants in an oven heated to 19o*C for 30-40 minutes until soft inside; OR
Fire up the barbie till it’s hot hot hot and grill those puppies until charred and blackened whilst turning them often; OR
Grill eggplants on a very hot, well-oiled pan, turning them often, until they are shriveled and soft.
When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, split them open and scoop out the flesh.
In a food processor, combine the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, rock salt and cumin (if desired). Blend until smooth. Add parsley and pulse a few times.
Drizzle lightly with olive oil and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve as a dip with crudites (raw vegies cut into bite-sized pieces) and wholegrain crackers.