Thursday, February 7, 2008

Sample recipe from The Cooking of the Middle-East: Baba ghannoj (cold aubergine purée with lemon juice)

I love the sound of the name for this dish, just as I love aubergines.

First, however, is the recipe for Taratoor, a sesame sauce that is used in this Baba Ghannooj recipe:

3 medium-sized garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup tahini (sesame paste)
3/4 to 1 cup cold water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 scant tsp salt

Mash the garlic to a paste with a pestle or wooden spoon. Stir in the tahini. Beat in 1/2 cup of water, the lemon juice and the sale with a whisk or spoon. Still beating, gradually add more water until the sauce has the consistency of thick mayonnaise and holds its shape almost solidly in a spoon.

Baba ghannooj:

1 medium aubergine (about 1 lb./450 g)
3 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tbs taratoor sauce
1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 scant tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp olive oil
2 oz. (ca. 55 g) finely chopped onions
1 tbs finely chopped parsley, preferably flat-leaved

First, roast the aubergine: prick it in 3-4 places with the prongs of a long-handled fork, then impale it in the fork and turn over a gas flame until the skin chars and begins to split, OR pierce the aubergine, place it on a baking sheet and grill about 4 inches (10 cm) from the heat for 20 minutes, turning it to char evenly all over [alternatively, use a crème brûlée torch].

When the aubergine is cool enough to handle, skin it, cutting away any badly charred spots of flesh. Cut it in half lengthways and chop finely. Then mash it into a smooth purée, beat in the lemon juice, taratoor, garlic and salt. Adjust taste if necessary.

Serve in a bowl, garnished with olive oil, chopped onions and parsley.

To eat, scoop up with pieces of khobz (Arab bread) or pitta bread [or eat with a spoon].

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