Eggplant dip (Baba Ghannouj)

April 25, 2010  •  Category:


I attended a French high school in Lebanon, Lycée Franco-Libanais and in France as well. Literature was an important portion of the curriculum and we studied all the French authors, from Rabelais to Molière (every single play) to Balzac and Zola and Flaubert; we did’n’t bother with Shakespeare. However, we did touch on the Russian authors.

My favorite was Dostoevsky; his characters were so emotional and crazy. Here’s a quote from one of his books.

” There are certain things in a man’s past which he does not divulge to everybody but, perhaps, only to his friends. Again, there are certain things he will not divulge,  even to his friends; he will divulge them perhaps only to himself, and that, too, as a secret. But, finally, there are which he is afraid to divulge even to himself, and every decent man has quite an accumulation of such things in his mind.” (Dostoevsky, Notes from the Underground)

Why this introduction? To admit one thing publicly: I do use (from time to time) cans of prepared hummus and eggplant dip!

I have used them especially when I  had  a few friends over and they would not detect the (gasp!) subterfuge.

Using a can is the difference between 10 minutes of work and 45 minutes of roasting an eggplant carefully over a grill until all the skin is blistered and peeling it and draining it.

A can requires: opening it, dumping it in a bowl and adding the following:

  • one tablespoon of yogurt
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons of tahini
  • 2 cloves of garlic, mashed with a dash of salt

Mix  well, taste to adjust seasoning, serve.

Feel free to throw in your two-cent!

NOTE: Do you know what ” Baba Ghannouj” means in Arabic? Baba is daddy and ghannouj is an adjective that means “he is a spoiling, cuddling, daddy”


81 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. OysterCulture says:

    Phew, I’m so glad you decided to share that one as I have used canned stuff periodically and the guilt was getting to me. I love the meaning of the name baba ghannouj – now every time I see it, I’ll smile!

    I cannot wait to try your version. I’ve not used the yogurt before, just more of the tahini. I’ve also tried making this after smoking the eggplant, which is not traditional I’m sure, but tasty none the less.

  2. peter says:

    NO!!!!! The Greek cousin to Baba Ghanouj is Melitzanosalata and I will only have it when the eggplant’s been blackened on the grill, scooped out and mashed and turned into this sublime dip.

    I challenge you to an eggplant showdown!

  3. kim says:

    i loooove baba ghannouj! Especially with hummus!

  4. Faith says:

    Baba Ghannouj is one of my favorite dips! Mike doesn’t like eggplant, but I’ll still make this — I love it enough to eat it myself every day until it’s gone! 🙂 Your dishes are always so lovely, Joumana. I love how you served this in the eggplant…beautiful!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    My partner LOVES Dostoevsky. And i love this presentation!

  6. Velva says:

    If you have discovered a good quality eggplant dip in a can, or hummus and all you need is a few small ingredients to take it up a level in flavor….Cheers to you!

  7. ts, eatingclub says:

    Teehee, I like the Dostoyevsky intro. I’ve only ever read one thing of his (_Crime and Punishment_). So, no Shakespeare at all, eh? ;D

  8. sweetlife says:

    hey there is nothing wrong with using a can evey so often…love your pic


  9. The Gypsy Chef says:

    I love Baba Gannouj! I had no idea they made a can you could doctor. Thanks so much for sharing that info! And I have to say, the presentation is gorgeous! I may have to copy.
    We will miss you on the trip, you have to come with us next year.

  10. sophia says:

    OMG. Dostoevsky is my all-time favorite author!!! He’s the reason I got obsessed with Russian literature, but none can beat him. My favorite book is The Brothers Karamazov. Love how deep and multi-faceted it is!

    Love how you presented this classic dip, too!

  11. Paz says:

    Ahhh! So that’s what Baba Ghannouj means! Thanks for the explanation and this tip to make it. Love it!

    Thanks also for stopping by my blog.


  12. SYLVIA says:

    This gorgeously creative appetizer is like a piece of art that you hang on your kitchen wall. the smooth and velvety dip is packed with flavor that open up your taste buds. It is quick, easy and delivers even when life becomes busy and stressful.

  13. Chris says:

    We’ve done the can trick, but only added lemon and garlic… I’ll have to try boosting it with tahini and yogurt as well!

  14. citronetvanille says:

    oh c’est pas bien grave on peut prendre des raccourcis de temps en temps, superbement presenté ce baba ghannouj! C’est vrai, il ne faut jamais oublier ses classiques, je les amène partout avec moi, et viens de relire après 20 ans Candide de Voltaire, c’est vrai qu’avec l’age on percoit certains passages différement avec plus de nuances.

  15. Louise says:

    Joumana, you’ve done it again. Not only do I adore baba ghannouj, I to this day remember the very first time I ever experienced it. Oooh la la:) I didn’t know what the words meant though, so cool…Thank you so much for sharing and for revealing your secret. I guess you are human after all:)

    I may have said this before but its worth repeating, I just LOVE your blog!!!

  16. Liss says:

    I love how you’ve served it – looks fabulous! I didn’t know about the meaning either – but shall remember that – thank you! xx

  17. Sushma Mallya says:

    Beautiful presentation!!looks yum

  18. Meeta says:

    i absolutely adore baba ghanoush – i could literally dive into it and simply eat my way out!!

  19. Devaki says:

    Dear Joumana – I could just hug you – I LOVE Dostoyevsky & Zola! I am reading The Idiot for the Nth time as we speak! And I love Baba addicted to the stuff during my student days in Sydney and never let go.

    I can’t believe people buy this stuff ready made. BTW, there is something wonderful about roasting the eggplants from scratch and all of that 🙂 That smoky flavor is to die for.

    Love the pic – very edgy indeed!

    Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  20. The KitchenMasochist says:

    This is one my favorite Middle Eastern dips. I miss that smokey eggplant taste. Most Middle Eastern restaurants that serve these, both at home in Los Angeles and here in the PH lack that smokey flavor.

    My mom makes this by grilling the eggplants on the stove top first. I’m much more familiar with the Iranian version of this though. It’s pretty much the same as the Levant version except it’s seasoned with salt and pepper and tahineh and lemon aren’t used.

    NIce presentation, btw. 🙂

  21. Rosa says:

    I adore this speciality! Great presentation!



  22. recettes gourmandes says:

    j’adore ta recette et j’adore les aubergines, toujours avec des recettes aussi splendide les unes que les autres, bravo et bisou

  23. Mamounette85 says:

    Je n’ai jamais vu d’aubergines en boîte et je ne sais pas si j’oserais en acheter. Cela dit c’est sur qu’en gain de temps c’est incomparable. Et l’aubergine doit être grillée pas cramée pour en faire le houmous, pas évident j’en conviens.
    Bises bonne journée

  24. grace says:

    i love baba ghannouj, and this is the most original presentation i’ve seen–very nice!

  25. Ivy says:

    Joumana, I have never tried baba ghannouj and will definitely try your recipe. We have something in common. I also graduated a French shcool in Cyprus “Ecole de St. Marie” and all the lessons maths, history, geography, litterature, etc were in French.

  26. fimère says:

    ta présentation de baba ghannouj est originale, j’aime beaucoup
    merci pour l’explication de baba ghannouj je connaissais la signification de baba mais ghannouj je viens de le découvrir
    bonne journée

  27. Heavenly Housewife says:

    This is one of my favourite mezze. My dad used to make this for me when I was younger, so it brings me a lot of happy memories. You did a beautiful job.
    *kisses* HH

  28. Nour El-Zibdeh says:

    This is s fun post!!! LOL
    Cooking can be simple, right?

    I put the eggplants in my toaster over and roast it there. I really don’t turn it or do anything, just leave it for 45 -60 minutes. I do it the Palestinian way: old ladies say you HAVE to chop it with knife so it’s chunky and uniform in size. I most of the time just put it in my food processor.

    Maybe you can answer this question for me: what’s the difference between baba ghanoush and mtabbal? We call this eggplant dip with tahini, yogurt, garlic, and lemon mtabbal in Jordan and Palestine. Is it the same thing but called differently in Syria and Lebanon?

  29. Priya says:

    Love it with tortilla chips, beautiful presentation..

  30. deana says:

    Doesn’t everyone have those little pantry secrets? Very brave to divulge yours! I never knew what baba ganoush meant… how cool is that. It seems the name is perfect for the dish. I like it best smokey and garlic-y but I don’t see why I couldn’t do that with prepared starter??? Liquid smoke anyone???

  31. Laura says:

    Your eggplant picture is really cool. Liked the quote too.

  32. 5 Star Foodie says:

    What a terrific presentation and an excellent recipe for Baba Ghannouj!

  33. Cherine says:

    I love your photo!! baba ghannouj rocks 🙂

  34. Nadia says:

    Joumana, it’s great to see that you do not feel all canned products are not on the foodie hit-list. Why not occasionally use something that tastes just as good but with far less effort. The eggplant also serves as a beautiful vessel for the Baba Ghannouj.

  35. Mary says:

    I love the presentation. I’ve never seen baba ghannouj served this way but I really like it. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

    P.S. Thanks for your kind words. I did appreciate them.

  36. shayma says:

    J, I adore Russian lit, esp Dostoevsky, just like you 🙂
    Love the way you’ve placed the baba ghannouj in the aubergine. We all have done some mysterious (ahem) things once in a while, no worries if you’ve served canned baba ghannouj! x shayma

  37. Sook says:

    I still haven’t warmed up to eggplants yet but have been seeing so many great looking recipes with eggplants lately that I am so tempted to go get some! Great presentation!

  38. Kitchen Butterfly says:

    Actually I haven’t made my Baba ghannouj this evening as I wanted to bake 3 things in the oven at the same time, and one of them hasn’t been bought yet! I can’t wait to make it! Love the photo of it stuffed into the shell. Yum

  39. Juliana says:

    I love this eggplant dip…yours look so creamy and tasty 🙂

  40. Namitha says:

    Fabulous..and the presentation is awesome !

  41. Azita says:

    love baba ghannouj and your version is so creamy and delicious! great presentation!

  42. lisa says:

    Not a thing wrong with using cans every so often, sometimes it’s just working with what we have! I love baba ghannouj, your dip is so wonderfully presented! Another amazing dish!

  43. Erica says:

    Love the presentation!!! Your dip looks and sounds amazing….creamy and delicious 🙂

  44. T.W. Barritt says:

    Don’t tell anybody, but I have been known to do the same thing! It’s really so hard to tell, especially with hummus. I once filled a red pepper with prepared hummus and took all the credit! My favorite is the lemon hummus.

  45. Pj says:

    I think its quite alright to buy prepared stuff once in a while 🙂 Love your presentation of baba ghannouj!

  46. Mimi says:

    I love Baba Ghannouj. Last summer I grew eggplant and made it for the first time. Your presentation is so fun.

  47. tigerfish says:

    I have never heard of eggplant dip :O
    Thanks for sharing.

  48. Nadjibella says:

    Nous avons les mêmes lectures, ayant fait certainement les mêmes écoles.
    J’ai lu Dostoïevski mais je ne me rappelle pas de cette citation.
    Je fais aussi du baba ghanouj et ta présentation me plait beacuoup.
    A bientôt..

  49. Bethany (Dirty Kitchen Secrets) says:

    I have no problem while I still prefer making it from scratch. But, life isn’t always fair like that and this comes in real handy. There are worse things one can do!

  50. Doc says:

    Tres Bien!
    You are so brave for that admission (which we have all done). I love learning the arabic translations-What do you use for taosting (the drink, not the bread)?

  51. Lori says:

    This is my favorite thing to make in the summer with fresh eggplant. I love it. I find grilling the eggplant really boosts the flavor. I have roasted it in the oven and it is just not the same. I think canned is okay sometimes. Some commercial brand hummus and baba ghannouj is really good!

  52. Mariana says:

    Gee. ‘Baba’ in the Balkan language means grandma or old lady. Now that is a contrast to a Dad isn’t it! Thanks for being so honest. My goodness. Eggplant in a can. I must confess I have never seen it before. I admire your bravery in divulging but my insides are secretly screaming out “a can – you must be joking”. Aren’t we funny we humans?

  53. Marie says:

    Oh good! Another thing I will be picking up at my new favorite store in the city! Already wrote the name down and stuck it in my purse.

  54. asia jo says:

    Gosh – I love your story – you just made me laugh because I had a big party last Saturday and made my humus from scratch 🙂 and I worked so hard on it – I even when to a special Oriental shop to get the best ingredients, but funny enough I didn’t think of getting a ready can 🙂 I wish I ready our story earlier 🙂 BTW the quotation is fabulous. cheers!

  55. heni says:

    I love this dip as well as hummous! I eat so often – almost daily! Ironically here in Algeria, most ppl have never heard of this or hummous! I made this for my husband even we first got married, at first he thought it was strange but then after tasting it loved it! I love your presentation! so nice!

  56. 3hungrytummies says:

    Nothing beats the homemade version but I am like you serving shop bought ones from time to time 🙂

  57. Michelle says:

    Isn’t tahini the best stuff! We just love it! Wonderful styling and photos!

  58. The Duo Dishes says:

    The homemade version of babaganoush and hummus always take the cake. They are so fresh and flavorful, especially with lots of garlic. Love how you’ve served the the dip in the eggplant.

  59. farida says:

    I love love love baba ghannouj! It has my favorite thing in it – eggplant:) I didn’t know what it means in Arabic, thank you for letting me know. An Azerbaijani friend asked me for it once and I didn’t know. Now I know:)

  60. Christine @ Fresh says:

    Ahhh! I love your confession! I was stunned when I read it!

  61. Bria @ WestofPersia says:

    You know what I always get from a can? Stuffed grape leaves.

  62. Mathai says:

    I love it! over here we call it ‘Mutabal’ and I sometimes even use it in my sandwiches 🙂

  63. TastyTrix says:

    You are too funny and smart, I love it! What other blogger manages to segue using Dostoevsky like this??? No one! Also, how funny about the baba gannouj. I think we all have that one packaged product that is actually really good with a little dressing up – and as you say, if no one knows, it doesn’t count… I love to use those canned Thai curry pastes and just dump them into a can of coconut milk with veggies.

  64. Grapefruit says:

    Really enjoyed the story. I use cans all the time when needing a quick fix, and you’re so right: it’s hard to tell with the addition of a few ingredients.
    Loved your presentation. Lovely photos.

  65. Conor @Hold the Beef says:

    I had no idea you could buy tins of Baba Ghannouj! And if they are up to your standards, they must be good, I’ll keep my eyes peeled 🙂

    Love your presentation with this too!

  66. lauresophie says:

    Thank for your comment! what a lovely visit I had on your blog, just the kind of food I can get crazy on, but not that able to do it! I’ll come back. See you (and I take note of the recipe I definitely have to buy tahini!)

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  68. chris cordrey says:

    i had a dream about him…Baba Ghannough…..well it was only a dream…but ive been searching and searching for the answer to who made this dish famous? was he a holy man or saint or just an over-indulgent father? any clues anybody? this was the first site i found to even define the name ghannouj…..

  69. heguiberto souza says:

    Beautiful pic & presentation, a nice departure from those Thanksgiving heavy dishes

  70. Lentil Breakdown says:

    What charming commentary! Love it!

  71. domi says:

    Superbe visuel j’en reste….baba, encore un visuel qui me donne des idées…

  72. Gene says:

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    Keep up the great work! You realize, many people are searching around
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