I fell in love with baba ghanouj when I lived in San Francisco; Kan Zaman, just around the corner from my basement flat in the Haight, made the tastiest version. This Middle Eastern dip is the lesser-known cousin of hummus, pairing equally well with pita bread and made just as easily from scratch.
A season spent working to replicate the Kan Zaman version—or at least my memory of it—revealed grilling the eggplant would get a fabulous smoky flavor. If you grill, puree, and freeze the eggplant, you can make baba all year and be the hit of any party. —Twice as Tasty
What You'll Need
cloves unpeeled garlic
Cut the eggplant in half (if using small Japanese eggplant) or into thick slices (if using a large oval Italian one). Drizzle or brush the cut surfaces with oil and place on a medium-hot grill; put the garlic cloves on the medium-low edge of the grill if you plan to make the dip fresh. Grill each side of the eggplant about 3–5 minutes, until soft and slightly charred; let the garlic go another 10 minutes, until the cloves are soft. Let both cool until easy to handle.
Remove as much peel as possible from the eggplant, scooping the flesh into a food processor; you should have about 1 cup. Puree until smooth, or the desired texture. If you’re not making baba ghanouj straightaway, cool the puree completely and then freeze in a 1-cup container.
When you’re ready to make your dip, put your defrosted or fresh eggplant puree into a food processor. Remove the skins from the grilled (or roasted) garlic. Add the garlic, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, and salt to the food processor; blend until smooth, or the desired texture. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Makes about 1-1/4 cups.