Baba ghanoush

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Mutabbal
Baba Ghanoush.jpg
Type Appetizer
Place of origin
Egypt
Main ingredients
Eggplant, olive oil
Cookbook:Mutabbal  Mutabbal

Baba ghanoush (Arabic بابا غنوج bābā ghannūj, also appears as baba ganush, baba ghannouj or baba ghannoug[1]) is a Levantine dish of cooked eggplant (aubergine) mixed with onions, tomatoes, olive oil and various seasonings. The Arabic term means "pampered papa" or "coy daddy", perhaps with reference to its supposed invention by a member of a royal harem. [2]

A popular preparation method is for the aubergine to be baked or broiled over an open flame before peeling, so that the pulp is soft and has a smoky taste.[3] Often, it is eaten as a dip with khubz or pita bread, and is sometimes added to other dishes. It is popular in the Levant (area covering Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Israel).[1]

A similar dish, but with mashed aubergines and without other vegetables, is known as mutabbal (متبل literally 'spiced') in the Levant but is called baba ghanoush in Egypt.

Around the world[edit]

Mutabbal and pita bread

In Syria and Lebanon, baba ghanoush is a starter or appetizer. It is made of eggplant blended with finely diced onions, tomatoes, and other vegetables. The Egyptian version, known in the Levant as mutabbal, is made of roasted, peeled, and mashed eggplant, blended with tahini, garlic, salt, and lemon juice. Cumin and chili powder can be added. It is normally served with a dressing of olive oil and pomegranate concentrate. In the traditional method, the eggplant is first roasted in an oven for approximately 30 to 90 minutes (depending on the size of the eggplant) until the skin appears almost burnt and the eggplant begins to collapse. The softened flesh is scooped out, squeezed or salted to remove excess water, and is then pureed with the tahini. There are many variants of the recipe, especially the seasoning. Seasonings include garlic, lemon juice, ground cumin, salt, mint, and parsley. When served on a plate or bowl, it is traditional to drizzle the top with olive oil.[4]

It is eaten in Turkey, where a similar meze is called patlıcan salatası (meaning "eggplant salad"). In Turkey, patlıcan salatası is made with mashed eggplants while baba ghanoush is cut not mashed. The baba ghanoush can be found (with cut eggplants) in southern Turkey, especially in Antakya. Also as the name Baba means father in Arabic and Turkish, in the regions where Arab population is large, the other word used in Arabic for father, Abu, is sometimes used and therefore it can be known as Abu-Gannoush. And, in Greece, it is called melitzanosalata (μελιτζανοσαλάτα; "eggplant salad"). In Israel, both the traditional version made with tahina and a variation made with mayonnaise is widely available.[5] There is also Bulgarian eggplant salad/spread called kyopolou кьополу.

In Palestine, it is made with "wild" eggplants known as "baladi" (from Arabic 'of the earth, indigenous'). It is made with tahini, olive oil, lemon and parsley.

In Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi cuisines, Baingan ka Bhurta is a dish similar to baba ghanoush. It is similarly prepared by grilling eggplant over open charcoal flame to impart a smoky flavor to the flesh. It is then cooked with an assortment of spices, tomatoes, garlic, and onions. It is commonly served with breads like paratha, roti, and naan. Baba ghanous however tastes different from Baingan Bartha because the two recipes use different spices. There is a recipe from the southern state of Andhra Pradesh where chopped onions and fried cumin and mustard seeds are added to the dish.

Another variant called 'Badenjaan Borani' is served in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This recipe uses yoghurt and onions.

In Romania, the eggplant spread is called "Salată de vinete" (eggplant salad). The eggplants are prepared and cooked the same as above (roasted over open-flame fire or oven). Then they are peeled, drained very well, and chopped with tocător de vinete, a special wide-blade wooden knife, which resembles a small meat cleaver. It is said that the eggplant is not to touch metal in the process; however, with the convenience of food processors for chopping and mixing, people nowadays stray from the old ways. After finely chopping the eggplants into a paste, seasonings are added and everything mixed together: salt, ground black pepper, (sunflower) oil, and traditionally, finely chopped (or grated) onion. A variant is replacing the onion with garlic "mujdei de usturoi." It is served (spread) on a slice of bread. Traditionally, the chopped onion is served separately and mixed at the table by each guest. It may be served also accompanied by roasted (kapia)peppers salad (oil/vinnegar dressing).The light color of the spread and the absence of seeds are most appreciated.

It is somewhat popular in areas heavily influenced by the Middle Eastern diaspora, as in Southeastern Brazil (see Arab Brazilian), and its presence has made eggplant more popular in almost all countries, although it was first introduced by either Iberians or West African slaves.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes
  1. ^ a b Egyptian Cuisine and Recipes
  2. ^ Oxford English Dictionary
  3. ^ Khayat, Marie Karam; Keatinge, Margaret Clark. Food from the Arab World, Khayats, Beirut, Lebanon.
  4. ^ The Cooking of the Middle-East, Foods of the World, Time-Life Books, 1969.
  5. ^ Levy, F. Feast from the Mideast, Harper Collins, 2003, p.41. ISBN 0-06-009361-7
General sources