PECKHAM RECIPES SOUTH LONDON VEGETABLES | FUNGI

New baba ganoush recipe

The way to get good at cooking is to go at recipes over and over, not flit around from one place to another and never look back.

I ate a stunning baba ganoush at Maramia Cafe recently as part of a ‘lamb banquet’. The meat was soft and tasty as hell, but the baba was what really blew people’s minds. It was thicker than mine; I wondered how they’d achieved the consistency and considered straining the yoghurt. I’m a serial strainer – you end up with something almost cream cheese-y but way more refreshing. I tried using it in the baba and the result was of course, richer. I’ve also started using smaller aubergines, which means that the smoke can penetrate all the flesh, rather than just the outer layer.

That’s it really – makes all the difference.

Baba Ganoush

8 small aubergines
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 lemons (juice)
1 handful mint leaves, chopped
1 handful coriander or parsley leaves (or a little of both), chopped
6-8 tablespoons tahini (I like a good whack but you may want less)
1-2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil (not extra virgin)
4 tablespoons strained yoghurt (see below)

First, strain the yoghurt. If you don’t remember to do this the night before it doesn’t matter, even a couple of hours will make a big difference and the process itself takes seconds of preparation. Take a 500g tub of decent Greek-style yoghurt such as Total. Full-fat will obviously taste better than low fat but the latter does work okay. You’ll need some butter muslin, which is available from hardware stores easily. Cut a square of the muslin and line a bowl with it. Mix the yoghurt with a scant teaspoon of salt, mix well, then dollop it all into the middle of the muslin in the bowl. Gather it up, tie string around the top then tie the other end to something (I use a kitchen cupboard handle). Leave it for a few hours or ideally, overnight with the bowl underneath.

Pierce the aubergines with a fork and place directly on the gas rings of a hob (1 per ring) on a low flame, or put them under the grill, turning occasionally until blackened all over and collapsed. They will burst but this is fine, it just requires a bit of attention so you don’t lose the flesh. Remove to a plate and let cool slightly, then scrape the flesh from inside, leaving any bits of blackened skin and liquid on the plate behind.

Blend with all the other ingredients and season and adjust as necessary. You may want to add more lemon, yoghurt or salt for example.

Allow to sit for a few hours before serving with hot flat breads or pitta for scooping.

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15 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply Sophie September 12, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Top idea Helen. I like baba ganoush but mine often turns out a bit watery.

    I’m a recent convert to the whole labneh experience. It’s amazing the transformation you get from a plain ol’ tub of yogurt and so versatile. Have you tried using it in a recipe involving heat yet – I’m intrigued to know if it splits?

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    Reply Helen September 12, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Hi Sophie, I haven’t yet I’m afraid. We must now make a pact to tell each other what happens as soon as possible.

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    Reply Marc Daniels September 13, 2010 at 8:46 am

    My experience is that full fat greek yoghurt (strained or unstrained) does not split easily; but the low fat version splits in seconds.

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    Reply Sharmila September 13, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Ah, so that’s what the pomegranate molasses were for! Well, it sounds like they met a good fate as this looks delicious.

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    Reply Robert September 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Hi Helen

    Love the idea of adding strained yoghurt, pomegranite molasses and herbs. I sometimes make this dish but just using aubergines, lemon juice, tahini and garlic. I don’t have a gas stove but a paint stripper hot air gun (I’ve only used for cooking) makes a good substitute for gas rings.

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    Reply James September 13, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Good timing – making some for a morroccon theme meal for 65 on Saturday.

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    Reply Uschi September 13, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Dear Helen,

    I´m reading your foodblog since two months and I like it very much. In August we visited London and my family had to go with me to Persepolis, although this was a longer journey. I liked this shop and bought some spices. Here in Austria it is sometimes difficult to get all spices we need, but my husband and I travel around a lot (Italy, Spain, Vienna, London) and get at least everything we need. This recipe I will cook the next days, togeht with some chapattis.

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    Reply Helen September 13, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    Marc – thanks for the info 🙂

    Sharmila – it was, although I am sorry to say the one I bought from Khan’s was crap. I had to go down to Persepolis the next day and buy some good stuff. Khan’s as much as I love you, you let me down bad.

    Robert – I am loving the fact that you use a paint stripping tool in the kitchen. That’s brilliant.

    James – Glad to be of service!

    Uschi – Thank you so much for your lovely comment. It makes me very happy indeed that you went out of your way to visit Persepolis because you had read about it here. Spreading the food love! If you’re ever in the area again, give me a shout and I’ll give you a little tour of Peckham food shops.

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    Reply Anna Johnston September 14, 2010 at 1:45 am

    This looks incredible & I’ve never made it before which sorta gets my hands itching to try it, thanks for sharing.

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    Reply Essex Eating September 14, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Love the way you’re refining a recipe to get it perfect Helen. Nice work!!

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    Reply George@CulinaryTravels September 14, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Fabulous idea Helen. I’m a “serial-strainer” too but never thought to do so with baba ganoush, I certainly will next time. Thank you!

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    Reply Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen September 16, 2010 at 1:18 am

    Awesome! I just made baba from my own eggplants that we grew and it was amazing! I like your idea of straining yogurt as well.

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    Reply AskCy September 23, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    Helen thanks for sharing this recipe but can I ask for a few pointers ?

    (waits for reply whistling and tapping fingers)

    ok thanks… (sorry lol)

    1 – my hob is electric so can’t put the aubergines on the gas and under the grill would be again under electric – will I still get the smokey flavour or will I just burn them? Should I substitue the burning with roasting in the oven and adding smoked paprika or smoked salt maybe ?

    2 – once made (presuming it doesn’t all get eaten) what is the best way to store it and how long will it last?

    3 – can it be eaten hot (leave out yoghurt ?) I’m thinking along the lines of putting it on wraps with crispy fresh salad ?

    4 – what is the dishes history, who makes it, when is it made, what is it used for, is it a banquet food or a paupers dish ?

    thanks for any information or further ideas

    Steve

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    Reply Helen September 23, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Hello Steve, here we go…

    1 – Yes just roast them in a hot oven until they are completely collapsed and hopefully a bit blackened too. They will burst. This is fine. Smoked salt would be a lovely touch I think, just remember you’ve salted them when you are salting the baba at the end.

    2 – Store it in the fridge, covered. It will last 4 days but I wouldn’t push it any longer.

    3 – Yeah it can be eaten hot, the yoghurt would probably be ok if you added it a little at a time.

    4 – As for some background on the dish, I think the Wikipedia entry is actually quite interesting (not just trying to fob you off!)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baba_ghanoush

    Helen

  • Avatar
    Reply AskCy September 24, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Thanks for the help, I’ve just made my own version without any yoghurt, no lemon juice and a tsp of smoked paprika…
    I’ve just got to make a blackberry crumble for our mates and then I’ll get around to writing the recipe up.

    Here is a picture of it though – http://postimage.org/image/4id7fy4k/

    thanks again, Steve

    ps is the lemon just for flavour or as a preservative ?

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