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BABA GANOUJ RECIPE
W. Beaty 2005

I love the "professional" Baba Ganouj found in Mideastern restaurants.
To approach that flavor, the basic trick is to char eggplants with a 
broiler 
until they start to collapse (20min or longer.)  Then turn them over and 
char the other side.  To avoid violent yet humorous eggplant steam 
explosions, first poke them repeatedly with a knife before broiling.  And 
to avoid a big cleanup job, broil them on a foil-covered cookie sheet.  On 
my stove the broiler element shuts off if the oven door is closed for over 
ten minutes, so I prop it open an inch by stuffing a potholder down the 
crack along one side of the oven.  You want charring, not baking.
[Optional: to speed things up, stab and then microwave each eggplant for 
3min before broiling, or about 5min for two.]

I found one professional secret: avoid using low-oil American tahini (the 
stuff that's like solid paste.) Instead buy tahini at a mideast or Indian 
or Greek grocery. The real stuff pours like syrup, and carries far more 
flavor. Hint: if you like overkill garlic, then mix the crushed garlic 
clove into the tahini rather than into the finished product. The sesame 
oil will let *all* the garlic flavor out.  GarlicBURN.

Another secret: after broiling the eggplants black, scrape out the meat 
onto the broiled black juices on the pan, and also onto the charred skins. 
Let it sit that way for 20min or so, and all the carbon-y goodness 
dissolves, turning the meat golden brown. Then peel off the eggplant meat, 
pick out the black flecks if desired, and proceed as usual. This gives 
complex smoky overtones.  Much better than tasting like boiled eggplant 
and tahini.

To avoid that over-mixed "peanut butter" consistency, I like to leave the 
eggplant meat almost alone.  First eliminate long strands by slicing the 
cooked meat crosswise with a sharp knife while scraping it off the skins, 
then just stir it into tahini with a fork. Perhaps mash the largest lumps. 
This makes the baba far more crunchy/fruity.

Actual recipe: 1/4 cup tahini and one garlic clove for each largish 
eggplant, thinned with juice from half a large lemon.  Some salt required 
(1/4 tsp, or a bit more.)  Use three or four eggplants: half for the party 
dip, half for the day after.

PS
Once I tried making and freezing a big batch, then comparing it against 
fresh-made. The previously frozen stuff was different, and I think 
slightly not as good. (Sometimes freezing will improve a food, but not 
this time.  Doesn't really ruin it though.)

 





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