I decided to change my approach to pot luck appetizers. I would normally bring a batch of pork spring rolls, salsa and chips plus dessert. When my HS girl friends decided to call a reunion, I thought of bringing something that would be slightly different from the average Filipino appetizer fare. Why not bring a batch of Baba Ghanouj?
Baba Ghanouj or Baba Ghanoush is commonly served as a starter or appetizer. It is a dip that is paired of with pita chips (but it may be paired with anything your heart desires :D ). The main ingredient is baked or grilled eggplant combined with a mixture of spices, tahini and oil. Tahini is ground sesame seeds with oil that was turned into paste. It is rich in protein, folic acid, B vitamins and iron. It helps with digestion too. However this dish should be taken in moderation for those with arthritis and gout because it may aggravate their condition.
The dish is easy to make and the ingredients are readily available in the market. I figured I would be able to try something new and play around in making my own home-made tahini too.
400-500 grams eggplant
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil (optional)
1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika or cumin
pita chips for dipping
Cook the eggplants by either baking or grilling. If you decide to bake them, pierce the skin with a fork for a few times; slice the eggplants into 2 length-wise. Lay them with the cut side down over a lightly greased cookie sheet and roast at 375F until they are soft and tender (about 30-60 minutes depending on their sizes). Cool and drain them them by laying them over a strainer. Scoop out the flesh into a bowl.
To grill, lay the eggplants over open flames and cook until the skins are dark and the meat is tender. Peel off the burned skin. Squeeze out the excess liquid and place the meat in a bowl.
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender, except for the olive oil. Blend all the ingredients together until everything is blended. Add olive oil into the eggplant mixture one tablespoon at a time until you have reached the desired consistency. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes and taste. Adjust the saltiness and tangy flavor by adding more salt or lemon juice. Transfer dip into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with paprika or cumin. Serve with pita chips.
I prefer to grill the eggplants because the smoky flavor gave the dish more character.
Tahini may be found in super markets. Here is a copy of a homemade recipe.