Once we were discussing the Lent with Leo. It turned out that he keeps the fast so I asked, what he eats at this time. He just said "hummus" and I thought "of course!". Can there be any problem with getting through the Lent once you know about hummus? That must be one of the most nutritious and at the same time delicious, almost addictive vegan foods on earth. With all my love to hummus and to eggplants one day I had to start making baba ganoush.
When Suki Maman gave me a 600 g jar of tahini I thought I was going to last forever. However with all my recent hummus experiments it started moving very fast and yesterday I already saw its bottom. It is hard to stop cooking Middle Eastern food once you start and now I'm seriously thinking about falafel.
For some reasons baba ganoush seems less well known around the world than hummus. Essentially, it is the same but instead of mashed chickpeas you use mashed flesh of roasted eggplants. You also blend it with tahini and season with salt, lemon, garlic, cumin etc. Depending on your preference you can make it taste more or less smoky by roasting the eggplants longer, till the skin goes black or by charing them on open flame.
There is one lovely magical moment in cooking. First you mash the roasted and chilled eggplant flesh and it turns dark brown. Then you add tahini (sesame paste), process them together and the whole thing becomes very pale, almost white with lovely yellow tint. Baba ganoush turns out very creamy and lighter in texture than hummus. But it is same engaging in a sense that it is not easy to stop eating once you start. Just one more bit. And one more. And on you go.
I know there should be pita bread on my picture instead of a tortilla chip. Forgive me, I just love nachos too much. I started off with David Lebovitz recipe and tweaked it to my taste. He is living in Paris exactly near all those beautiful Lebanese restaurants, which we used to visit in Insead and which made me love Middle Eastern food. David's recipe for tabbouleh is also very good.
Baba ganoush (recipe adapted from David Lebovitz)
3 medium-sized eggplants
130 g tahini (sesame paste)
1 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, peeled
tiny pinch of chili powder (or to taste)
tiny pinch of ground cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 sprouts of flat-leaf parsley or cilantro, leaves picked
Make several cuts on each eggplant (around 1 cm deep). Place the eggplants on a baking sheet covered with foil (not oiled) and roast at 190C for 45 - 50 minutes, until they are completely soft and the skin starts to turn black. Take out of the oven and let cool.
Cut each eggplant in half and take off the skin (it will easily separate) or scrape the flesh out with a spoon. Puree the pulp in a blender or food processor with garlic and parsley.
Add the rest of ingredients and blend until smooth.
Taste, and season with additional salt and lemon juice, if necessary. Chill for a 1 hour before serving. Serve with pita bread or chips. Keeps in the fringe for a few days.
Hummus, not seriously
Quinoa with smoky eggplant and roast pepper
Slow cooked vegetable tagine