Welcome to the roller coaster ride that is Baba Ghanoush. For each thrilling high of a fantastic experience with this smokey Middle Eastern dip, I experience a equal low, often leaving me questioning why I like it at all. Unfortunately, my home experience has been made up of almost entirely lows—until this most recent stab at it.
With only five main ingredients, I assumed that ingredient quality would make all the difference, but something was always off. With many tries, I used a process of elimination to get to the bottom of my troubles:
- Eggplant grilled until soft and smoky, not too bitter: check
- Fresh lemons and garlic: check
- Good quality olive oil: check
That left only the tahini, which I've tried a few brands with little to no success. So this last time I took matters into my own hands: I lightly toasted a cup of sesame seeds and then took them for a whirl in the food processor with some olive oil until they became thick, yet pourable fresh tahini. Result: delicious.
This was the Baba Ghanoush high that drives me to take the ride again. Each ingredient combined to make a luscious, smoky dip that reigns high on my list of all-time favorites.
- 2 pounds eggplant (about 2 large globes), each poked uniformly over surface with fork to prevent bursting
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons tahini (recipe below)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil , plus extra for serving
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup olive oil
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over the charcoal grate. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place eggplants on the grill and cook until skins darken and wrinkle on all sides, and eggplants are uniformly soft when pressed with tongs, about 25 minutes for large globe eggplants, turning every 5 minutes and reversing direction of eggplants on grill with each turn. Transfer eggplants to rimmed baking sheet and cool 5 minutes.
Set small colander over bowl or in sink. Trim top and bottom off each eggplant. Slit eggplants lengthwise and use spoon to scoop hot pulp from skins and place pulp in colander (you should have about 2 cups packed pulp); discard skins. Let pulp drain 3 minutes.
Transfer pulp to workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Add lemon juice, garlic, tahini, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; process until mixture has coarse, choppy texture, about eight 1-second pulses. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper; transfer to serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap flush with surface of dip, and refrigerate 45 to 60 minutes. To serve, use spoon to make trough in center of dip and spoon olive oil into it; sprinkle with parsley and serve.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place sesame seeds on a rimmed baking sheet and toast sesame seeds for 5-10 minutes, shaking the seeds frequently with a spatula. Do not allow to brown. Cool for 20 minutes.