I don’t make the best baba ganoush I’ve ever eaten. This is not false humility. I actually make a great baba ganoush, it’s just that somewhere in central London you’ll find a better baba ganoush than mine. It makes me a little tetchy to admit that, but there you have it, I can’t tell you fibs.
Anyone who’s been on our London Food Tour of Soho will agree. The best baba ganoush you’ll ever eat is on that tour. But I do an alright version and many people have asked for the recipe, so here it is: the runner-up in the Best Baba Ganoush in London competition.
Baba ganoush is a middle eastern aubergine (eggplant) puree, most often eaten as a dip, but also used as an accompaniment to meats and chicken. I’ve also served it with chilli and garlic prawns, where it’s silky earthiness works beautifully against the sweetness of the white prawn flesh and the heat of the chilli.
Arabic in origin, (the levant region), it is said that baba ganoush was invented by a member of the royal harem. It translates as something like “Pampered Papa”. Pampered Papa indeed.
You can either char the aubergine on top of a gas hob, or bake it til it’s black, but the key is making sure you’ve cooked it for long enough. The flesh inside the blackened skin needs to be soft and sweet. A partially cooked aubergine is a little like the sole of a well worn shoe. Papa would not be amused.
- One large, firm aubergine (eggplant)
- 6 large cloves of garlic (x4 whole, x2 chopped finely)
- 3 tsp freshly toasted and ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- Juice and rind of 2 lemons
- 3 tsp salt
- A decent grinding of pepper
- 1 Tbs the best tahini you can find
- A couple of glugs of olive oil
- Make 8 slits in the aubergine with a small sharp knife
- Peel 4 cloves of garlic and cut in half
- Press half a clove of garlic into each of the slits so you can no longer see any garlic on the outside of the aubergine
- Drizzle with some of the oil
- Pop into the oven for 1.5 hours at 170 degrees
- Skip the garlic step if you are using a char grill as the slits will encourage moisture to seep out
- Turn aubergine when each side is thoroughly blackened
- When cool, halve the aubergine, scoop out the soft flesh and bung into a food processor (include the garlic cloves if using)
- Add remaining ingredients and whizz until smooth
- Check for salt & pepper and lemon and adjust if needed
- Best eaten the next day when flavours have settled
- Don't skimp on the quality of the tahini - cheap tahini is awful
- If charing on top of stove/hob place foil to catch any spurts