Baba Ghanoush

Baba GhanoushBaba Ghanoush is a Middle Eastern | Mediterranean eggplant dip, that is usually served with hummus, vegetables and served with tender Homemade Pita Beer Bread or lavash bread to dip in.  This recipe can use several different beer styles, to add more of those roasted and smoked elements, that highlight Beer Cuisine | Cooking with beer. Using beer as an ingredient also brings amazing flavors into a vegetarian | vegan recipe like this.

How to Make Baba Ghanoush:

The ingredients that make up a basic recipe of baba ghanoush are pretty simple: eggplant, tahini, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. For all intents and purposes, if you replace eggplant for cooked garbanzo beans, you have hummus. For a more advanced version, add Italian leaf parsley, paprika (smoked or Hungarian), some other chili for an extra kick, and the ever-present Middle Eastern spice, cumin. Let’s take a closer look at these ingredients and how they are prepared to make up a batch of this delicious Baba Ghanoush.

There are several different types of eggplant available, whether buying from a Farmer’s Market or grocery store. Ranging from beautiful purple striped graffiti eggplant, Thai | Chinese | Japanese | Indian | Italian eggplant, to white eggplant, there are lots of different varieties of eggplant that will work for this recipe. Traditionally Italian eggplant is usually used. Learn more about the different varieties of eggplant here.

Baba Ghanoush EggplantOne must cook eggplant to make baba ghanoush. There are several ways to cook eggplant, yet to get the flavors that make baba ghanoush shine, this limits the ways one can cook this key recipe ingredient. Traditionally, a fresh eggplant is placed, whole onto live coals, allowing the heat and smoke to fill the inside flesh, rotating it periodically, until the skin is burnt and the pulp of the vegetable is soft, smoky and fully cooked. Instead of cooking over live coals, one can use a wood or charcoal grill, a smoker, wood-fired oven, or left overnight in a Big Green Egg, as I have done with onions (that can also be used to make this recipe). The low cooking temperature vs high heat cooking will change some of the flavors and how the vegetable caramelizes. Yet both options result in a smoky eggplant, that is one of the key culinary techniques to make a delicious baba ghanoush. If this is the cooking option, then using a beer without smoke would be preferred. A malt-forward brew like a Brown Ale, whether it is an English Brown Ale or an American Brown Ale will give a wonderful depth to the final recipe, adding melanoidin qualities, similar in flavor to the caramelized onion | roasted garlic, that will help amplify the fire-roasted eggplant.

The other option is to roast the eggplant in a hot oven, again, placed whole onto a sheet tray and allowed to roast. The resulting interior of the eggplant is rich, creamy in texture, but minus the smoky fire elements. Yet we can add or substitute different ingredients to re-create those essential flavors elements, making a wonderful version of this recipe, without a live fire.

If you chose to cook the eggplant in a standard oven, then the element of smoke needs to come into the recipe through other means. As many different beers styles use smoked malts, the cooking with beer adaptation of this recipe becomes a beer culinary adventure. Rauchbier, the smoked german beer style uses beechwood smoked green malt to add a smoky campfire like element to is flavor characteristics. A Smoked PorterSmoked Stout also uses smoked malted barley to impact the flavor of wood smoke into a roasty, coffee, espresso, chocolate-like beer, that adds extra depth to the beer style. Along with being more malt-forward beer styles, these different brews can be used to bring that smoke and malt-forward flavor into this recipe.

Other Ingredients in Baba Ghanoush:

Garlic is another flavor element to a good baba ghanoush. Most recipes use raw garlic, giving the dip a sharp pungent flavor. I like using a mix of garlic, both raw and roasted, to give more depth and flavor in the finished recipe. Another way to drop the garlic strength is to grate it and mix it with the lemon juice, allowing it to sit for 15 – 30 minutes. This time allows the acid in the lemon to cook the garlic, like a ceviche, mellowing the garlic’s heat and intensity.

A touch of heat and flavor from peppers usually dried adds a nice balance to the silky texture in this recipe. Some people like a hotter spice level and use cayenne pepper, others like Aleppo pepper or chili pepper flakes. There is also paprika, Hungarian that comes in a sweet or spicy variation or the same chili pepper that is smoked. Using smoked paprika is another way to add smokiness to the dip if you don’t have a smoker, live-fire grill, or access to a smoked beer. To also add a comforting earthy element, cumin seed is ground and mixed in, bringing that hint of desert flavor with it.

Salt helps enhance the flavor and acts as a counterbalance to help drop the bitterness that is inherent within eggplant. Another way to add salt is by using an Asian ingredient, that is not traditional to the Middle East, yet adds extra savory notes to the baba ghanoush recipe is miso. This Japanese paste is usually made from soybeans, koji and salt, left to ferment for months to years depending on the type of miso being created. White is the sweetest, being made with a proportion of rice, while red miso has more depth of flavor, usually saltier and richer. Some miso makers use different beans | legumes, like garbanzo beans, that would also be a wonderful addition, to this recipe.

Tahini is another critical ingredient used in making baba ghanoush. Tahini is a sesame seed paste or seed butter, made from white sesame seeds. It’s available at most grocery stores or in Middle Eastern specialty shops. Yet unless you use it and find freshly ground versions, I have found many brands to be almost rancid when just opened.  So, with this recipe, I use sesame seeds and hemp seeds (a high Omega 3 oilseed) that grind together to make fresh seed butter in this recipe.

Lastly, I use fresh parsley to add texture, flavor, color, and extra nutritional benefits to this dip | spread. This can be left out, yet it adds so much to the final mix of ingredients.

This eggplant dip is very easy to make. Full of wonderful smoky flavors, it compliments any Middle Eastern meal. Once you make your own baba ghanoush, you’ll wonder why you ever bought it.

 

Makes: about 6–7 cups

 

 

 

Adapted from BeerAdvocate Magazine: Cuisine à la Bière | Jul 2013 | Issue #78

Baba Ghanoush 200
Baba Ghanoush
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
This Baba Ghanoush uses beer, to add a smoky element to the Middle Eastern | Mediterranean dip if a grill isn't available. This recipe showcases the reasons to cook with beer.
Servings Prep Time
8 people 8 minute
Cook Time Passive Time
40 minute 10 minute
Servings Prep Time
8 people 8 minute
Cook Time Passive Time
40 minute 10 minute
Baba Ghanoush 200
Baba Ghanoush
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
This Baba Ghanoush uses beer, to add a smoky element to the Middle Eastern | Mediterranean dip if a grill isn't available. This recipe showcases the reasons to cook with beer.
Servings Prep Time
8 people 8 minute
Cook Time Passive Time
40 minute 10 minute
Servings Prep Time
8 people 8 minute
Cook Time Passive Time
40 minute 10 minute
Ingredients
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
Smoked Eggplant Directions:
  • First, if you bought your eggplant in a grocery store, take the stickers off the outside of the eggplant. To get a great smoky flavor in the dip, use a barbecue (wood or gas-fueled), live coals or a gas burner on the stove set to high heat and roast the outside skin until it starts to burn and smoke. This will take about 6 – 10 minutes, as it is important to evenly roast all sides of the eggplant. Transfer the charred eggplant to the side of the grill and allow to fully cook, until the vegetable is soft, tender, and starts to release its juices. Remove from the grill \ smoker and let cool for about 10 minutes. Carefully peel the outside charred skin away from the soft flesh and discard the skin.
Oven Roasted Eggplant Directions:
  • First, if you bought your eggplant in a grocery store, take the stickers off the outside of the eggplant. Place the eggplant to a sheet tray lined with either a silicone baking mat or aluminum foil, and place into a preheated 400°F | 204°C oven for about 40 – 55 minutes, depending on the size and shape of the eggplant used. The eggplant is done when it starts to release its juices, and the flesh is soft and tender. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Carefully peel the outside charred skin away from the soft flesh and discard the skin.
    Baba Ghanoush Roast
To Make Baba Ghanoush Directions:
  • In the bowl of a food processor, add the sesame and hemp seeds, olive oil, garlic (roasted and raw), beer (to make the dip even more roasty and smoky, try a Rauchbier, or a smoked Porter or Stout, or use a malty brew like a Hemp Brown to add extra richness), salt, cumin, chili pepper of choice. Fit the bowl with a lid and pulse several times to mix all the ingredients. The idea at this step is to make a paste, smooth and creamy, creating essentially a seed butter and incorporating all the ingredients together, to later be mixed into the eggplant.
  • Add the prepared eggplant to the bowl and pulse until all the ingredients are mixed together. If you like a chunkier version of Baba Ghanoush, then you are done. If a smoother, silkier version is your jam, then purée until smooth. Taste, and adjust the seasoning, if needed. If the Baba Ghanoush is bitter, add more salt. If it is dull, add more lemon juice.
    Making Baba Ghanoush
  • Transfer the eggplant dip to a serving bowl and garnish with the chopped parsley and a healthy sprinkle of paprika (using the Spanish smoked variety will really play well with the smoky flavors of the charred eggplant and smoked beer).
    Baba Ghanoush Bowl
Recipe Notes

Baba Ghanoush Long

Baba Ghanoush Recipe Variations:

  • Try using different types and varieties of eggplant
  • Use more roasted garlic, to make a Roasted Garlic Baba Ghanoush
  • Add a smoked onion, with the seeds, to make a Smoked Onion Baba Ghanoush
  • Like a Spicy Baba Ghanoush? Add your favorite hot sauce and | or some fresh chili peppers
  • Love Za'atar? Try using my Homemade Za’atar spice seasoning to garnish this dip with.

 

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Baba Ghanoush 200
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Za’atar Roasted Eggplant

Sean Paxton

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