In Syria, we call this dip ‘Baba ghannouj’ but without the word ‘Syrian’, so why am I including the word Syrian in this recipe for you? The only reason for this is to distinguish it from the ‘Tahini baba ghannouj’ popular in other parts of the world.

Serves
4-6

Preparation

15min

Cooking

10min

Skill level

Easy
By
Average: 5 (1 vote)
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If I were to translate the word ghannouj, I would say it means "spoiled". Just as you would spoil a small girl with all of her favorite toys and candies, we Syrians spoil our baba ghannouj with all of these fresh ingredients, pomegranate seeds, and walnuts.

The sweetness and smokiness of the eggplant, the freshness of the tomato, the sweet and sour zing of the pomegranate molasses, and the crunchiness of the walnuts and the pomegranate seeds combine to produce a flavour explosion!

Baba ghannouj is unique in that it may be served as a dip or a salad, and it can be presented in different ways. Served with accompanying appetisers as part of a mezza platter, or alongside any barbecued feast, it perfectly complements the food.

Ingredients

  • 2 kg eggplant (5-6 eggplants, see Note)
  • 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 100 g walnuts
  • 1 green capsicum (bell pepper), finely chopped
  • 1 red capsicum (bell pepper), finely chopped
  • 1½ cup chopped tomatoes
  • ¾ cup fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 1 small finely chopped onion or spring onion
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint, optional
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to garnish
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses, plus extra to garnish
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • Warm pita bread, to serve

 

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Chilling time: 1-2 hours

  1. Pierce each eggplant a few times with a fork. Cook until the inside is soft and the outside is fully charred by turning continuously over a direct flame. Alternatively, grill them for 10-15 minutes on a charcoal grill or roast them on the bottom rack of an oven at 250°C (230°C fan assisted). Whichever method you use, the aim is to have a blackened skin and tender flesh.
  2. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then peel. Discard the charred skin.
  3. To avoid long eggplant strings, cut them crosswise a couple of times. Place the eggplant in a sieve to drain any extra liquid. Refrigerate for an hour or two.
  4. Meanwhile, finely chop the parsley and roughly chop the walnuts.
  5. In a bowl, combine the chilled eggplant with ¾ of each of the parsley, walnuts, chopped capsicum, tomato and pomegranate seeds, saving the remaining for garnish. Add in the onion, mint and garlic. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses, season with salt and mix all the ingredients.
  6. To assemble, place the baba ghannouj in a deep bowl or on a large plate.
  7. Garnish with the rest of the chopped parsley, walnuts, chopped capsicum, tomato and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle with some pomegranate molasses and olive oil.
  8. Serve with warm pita bread on the side.

 

Note

• 2 kg raw eggplants makes about 500 g of roasted flesh.

 

Photography, styling and food preparation by Racha Abou Alchamat.