"The melting golden smokiness of eggplant is the key to this delightful dish served at room temperature that could be the centre of a Middle Eastern banquet or enjoyed with flatbread. Cooking directly on the coals adds so much flavour and then the tarator dressing, fresh mint leaves and nigella seeds add another dimension of flavour. Gifted chef Joseph Abboud whipped this up in under 10 minutes once the eggplant was cooked and peeled. Seriously impressive." Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Earth
Seriously impressive, this eggplant side really is the whole baba.
- 3 large eggplant, green top removed and pricked all over with a sharp knife
- 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled (1 finely sliced, 1 left whole)
- sea salt
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tbsp nigella seeds
- handful mint leaves, torn
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.
Standing time 45 mins
Place the eggplant over charcoal or in the ashes of a barbecue and cook, turning occasionally, until completely blackened, starting to collapse and very soft inside. Remove from the coals and place into a colander over a bowl to drain the excess liquid.
Place the olive oil and sliced garlic clove in a small saucepan over low heat. As soon as the garlic shows any sizzle, remove from the heat and set aside for garlic to infuse.
In a small mortar and pestle, pound the whole garlic clove with a good pinch of salt until a paste forms. Transfer to a bowl, then add the tahini, 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Whisk together well – you may need to add more water or lemon juice. Check for seasoning.
Peel the eggplant carefully, discarding the skin and keeping as much of the flesh as possible. Place in a deep dish and season with salt. Spoon over the garlic infused oil and stand for at least 45 minutes.
Transfer the eggplant to a serving plate. Spoon over the tahini sauce. Sprinkle with nigella seeds and mint and serve.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Emma Warren. Creative concept by Belinda So.