I never liked aubergine much. It is kinda squishy and spongy and doesn’t have much flavour. But when I recently had a very delicious aubergine curry, I was curious to see if there are other ways to make aubergine delicious. So when I found a recipe for baba ganoush, a sweet, smokey Mediterranian/Arabic/Middle-Eastern aubergine dip, I knew I had to try. Traditionally the dip is flavoured with tahini, garlic, salt and lemon, but ground cumin, chilli powder, parsley, mint and black pepper are often used as well.
I used an ingredient that is not very traditional: pimenton de la vera picante. Normal pimenton (Spanish paprika powder) is made by drying paprika with the sun and hot air, but the pimenton from the la vera region is smoked, which (obviously) gives it a delicious smoky flavour. A pinch of the spicy (picante) variety gives the baba ganoush a lovely extra smokiness and a mellow heat. This stuff overpowers easily (both the hotness and the smokiness), so make sure you use only a tiny bit!
This dip is delicious served with all sorts of flatbread, but also with vegetables, for example cucumber and carrot. It is also very tasty as a spread on a sandwich or wrap with grilled vegetables.
3 garlic cloves, crushed with a teaspoon of salt
1 tbsp tahini
3 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of pimenton de la vera picante
Optional: lemon juice
Garnish: chopped flat leaf parsley, olive oil, pomegranate seeds, pimenton
Prick the aubergines with a fork. Grill the aubergines until the skin is charred and blacked and the flesh feels soft when you press it. Turn a few times to make sure that all sides get blacked. If you have a smoke alarm in your kitchen it might be best to take the batteries out while you are grilling the aubergine, otherwise it will probably go off.
When cool enough to handle, cut the aubergines in half and scoop out the flesh. Mash with a fork (or leave it chuncky if you prefer). Add the crushed garlic, tahini, olive oil and pimenton, stir well to get an emulsified smooth puree. Taste and add some extra salt, pimenton and/or lemon juice. Place in a serving dish and finish with one or more of the garnishes, or store tightly covered up to two days in the fridge and garnish when serving; make sure you take it from the fridge in time to serve the dip at room temperature, cold it is quite icky.