Such a cool name for a most delicious dish! If you’ve never had baba ganoush, imagine a creamy smoky savory dip that will truly delight your taste buds!
This Middle-Eastern eggplant dip is made with few ingredients. Preparing the best baba ganoush may seem intimidating at first, but it’s actually quite simple. The key is to grill the eggplant over an open flame – this will give it a subtle smoky flavor that’s simply irresistible!
I’ve tested many different recipes throughout the years and have found that they all come down to a few essential tips I am sharing below. With these in mind, you’ll be able to make delicious Middle-Eastern baba ganoush in no time!
Ingredients for the best baba ganoush
- Eggplant: look for a medium size globe eggplant or, if you can find it, Italian eggplant. A smaller eggplant will have fewer seeds and will not have any bitterness.
- Tahini: this sesame seed paste will add some of the creaminess to the dip, plus some protein and healthy fat! Use the best quality tahini you can find. Some lower quality ones can be bitter or have a rancid after-taste. Two brands I highly recommend: Joyva and Soom.
- Greek yogurt: this (secret) ingredient is optional but I like to add it for a little extra creaminess. It also helps lighten the finished color of the dip to make it more attractive.
- Lemon juice: adds a pop of bright acidity. Feel free to add more if you like a strong lemony flavor.
- Extra Virgin Olive oil: one of the fat components that, once emulsified with the other ingredients, creates a unique creaminess. Use a mild flavored oil as you don’t want to overpower the subtle eggplant flavor.
- Garlic: I find that pressing the garlic ensures its flavor best permeates throughout the dip. If you don’t have a garlic press, grating it also works well, or mince it really fine.
- Cayenne pepper: another optional ingredient, that you can omit or increase as you wish. Just a word of caution: cayenne pepper is high on the Scoville heat scale!
- Garnish: besides a drizzle of olive oil, I like the visual contrast of red Aleppo pepper flakes (or red pepper flakes) and some green chopped parsley. Sumac, smoked paprika and cilantro are also great additions.
Expert tips for making the creamiest baba ganoush
The first step is grilling the eggplant. If you have an outdoor grill, that’s a good choice. The next best choice, and my go-to method, is to grill on a gas cooktop directly over the flame. Depending on the size of your eggplant, this will take 15 to 20 minutes. You are looking to get the skin nicely charred and the flesh nice and tender.
Another alternative – but it won’t produce the unique smokiness characteristic of a good baba ganoush – is roasting your eggplant in the oven. In this case, cut the eggplant in half, brush it lightly with olive oil and place it flesh side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast at 425 F for about 40 minutes or until the eggplant is very soft and cooked through.
Tip: When grilling on a gas cooktop, I recommend lining your cooktop’s pan with aluminum foil to catch the drippings that will unavoidably happen. It will make for easier clean-up!
Next, you will let the eggplant cool down, peel it, drain it, and reserve the flesh. This step is important as you want to extract as much liquid as possible to get the proper texture in your finished dip. Let the eggplant rest in the strainer at least 20 to 30 minutes.
Tip: I do not recommend pressing or squeezing the eggplant, but instead letting gravity work. In a pinch, to speed up the process, you can also place your peeled eggplant in a salad spinner and spin it gently. Note that if roasting the eggplant in the oven, it will already have lost a lot of its moisture.
Finally, you will mix in all the other ingredients and whip into a nice creamy emulsion. A fork works best as it helps separate the strands of eggplant flesh. Take your time and really whip thoroughly. The oil and tahini should be completely incorporated and emulsified.
Alternatively, if you like a smooth texture, this step can be done in a food processor. I like my baba ganoush to have a more rustic texture, with tender pieces of eggplant bound together in a creamy dip.
Tip: for best flavor and texture, refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. This will allow the flavors to meld and the dip to thicken.
Garnish with your choice of toppings. Serve with pita bread, crackers, or crunchy vegetables!
Baba ganoush is an easy yet flavorful way to bring life to parties or gatherings so why not give it a try!
Other delicious recipes to try:
Creamy Baba Ganoush
- Turn one gas burner on medium-high and place the eggplant directly over the flame. Use a pair of stainless steel tongs to turn the eggplant every 5 minutes or so, until its skin is charred and crispy on all sides (15 to 18 minutes). When it's done, the eggplant should be really soft. If you don't have a gas burner, you can use a grill or roast it in the oven (see notes).
- Remove the eggplant to a bowl and let it cool down.
- When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, peel off its charred and crispy skin – it should come right off. Get rid of the skin, as well as the stem, but don't worry if a few bits of the skin remain – they add extra flavor!
- Transfer the peeled eggplant to a strainer over a bowl and let it stand 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can place it in a salad bowl spinner and spin gently to speed up the process. Discard all drippings.
- Place the eggplant pulp in a clean bowl and separate the strands with a fork.
- Add tahini, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir vigorously with your fork or a wooden spoon until the mixture is pale and creamy. If you prefer a smoother texture, this step can be done in a food processor.
- Transfer to a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to let the flavors combine. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, and a few flakes of Aleppo pepper and parsley, to taste.