Classic Baba Ghanoush


In Arabic, “baba” means father and “ghanoush” means spoiled.  This “spoiled dad” is the creamier companion to hummus. Popular in Arab countries throughout the Middle East, it is also a common appetizer on the Sephardic Jewish table. In Israel, it is known as eggplant salad, or Salat Hatzilim. It is sometimes made with roasted bell peppers, and often mayonnaise is added for richness. I’ve even tasted sweet baba ghanoush with a touch of sugar in it. While I’ve provided a more classic version here, there are endless variations on this theme.

I’ve made baba ghanoush many times for my family over the years, and it took me some time to find the correct balance of flavors. Every time I made it, I would offer my husband a taste. In the nicest way possible, he would tell me– “Mmm. Good, but a little more tahini.” Or, “Yes, it’s almost there– maybe a touch more lemon juice?” Over time, I discovered the right combination. I knew I’d hit upon it when his face lit up. He smiled and said, “Just like my mom made.” I consider that the highest of kitchen compliments. :)

That said, Middle Eastern dips and salads like baba ghanoush and hummus are subject to taste. Some families prefer “a little more of this” or “a little less of that.” When in doubt, taste and adjust seasonings according to your palette.

For this recipe, you will need to roast both eggplant and garlic. To learn how to roast eggplant, click here. To learn how to roast garlic, click here. You will also need to buy tahini sesame seed paste. Tahini can be found in the peanut butter section at most health food stores, and any Middle Eastern market will carry it. Many regular grocery stores have started stocking it, too. Choose a tahini made from light colored seeds, not dark.

Baba ghanoush is healthy, gluten free, vegan, all natural and so delicious. Pair with pita bread, crackers or chips for a mouth-watering appetizer that your guests will love. In tomorrow’s blog, I’ll share the recipe for the delicious baked pita chips in the picture next to the dip. Yummy!

Classic Baba Ghanoush

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplants (about 3 lbs. total), roasted
  • 1/3 cup tahini (from light seeds, not "dark tahini")
  • 3 roasted garlic cloves (or 1 clove raw garlic, crushed)
  • 2 fresh lemons, juiced (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley (for garnish)
  • Paprika (for garnish)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 5 Minutes
Servings: About 12 appetizer servings
Kosher Key: Pareve
  • To learn how to roast eggplant and/or garlic, click on the links above the recipe card.
  • Remove pulp from roasted eggplant and place in a bowl along with some of the smoky roasting liquid. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Add tahini, garlic, fresh lemon juice, cumin, salt, cayenne pepper and 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil to the bowl.
  • Use a fork and/or spoon to mash together the mixture, using firm pressure to break up the tahini paste, roasted garlic, and any stringiness of the eggplant. Mix until well combined.
  • Taste the dip. Add additional tahini, lemon juice, salt or cayenne pepper, if desired. The cayenne is extremely spicy, so add with care.
  • Drizzle the surface of the dip lightly with extra virgin olive oil.
  • Sprinkle with paprika and fresh minced parsley to garnish.
  • Serve as a dip with pita bread, crackers or chips. If you prefer a cold dip, chill in the refrigerator prior to garnish. Store refrigerated in an airtight container.

Comments (62)Post a Comment

  1. I have 2 varieties of eggplant growing in the garden this summer…perfect timing for this recipe! Cannot wait to try it! YUM!

  2. Hello!

    My husband is allergic to sesame…would there be a suitable substitute to the tahini, or should I just leave it out?

    1. You can make a sesame free “tahini” by grinding sunflower kernals while mixing in olive oil through a food processor to achieve a similar result. :) Hope this helps.:)

  3. @Rachel, I make the exact same but use mayonaise. I also drain the eggplant for a bit to get some of the sour water out. This recipe looks great, I might have to change the version I use for this once in awhile!!!

    1. To Alef Bet Jewelry: I have found out that when you peel and cut it in circles, shake a little bit of salt on both sides and let it rest for about 30minues. It will get rid of the sour or bitterness as a dark brown liquid. It will taste differently and delicious.

  4. LOVE your web site and your recipes. We do not keep kosher, but my daughter goes to a Jewish preschool where I provide kosher style lunches (that is, no meat and milk together and no pork products) and tree nuts are prohibited. Of course, your fare is significantly more sophisticated than toddler food, but I would love a post if you have any ideas for kids and/or adults? My daughter must be tired of grilled cheese sandwiches by now.

    Can’t wait to try some of your recipes!

  5. Looks AMAZING! Baba Ghanoush is one of my all time favorites! Our recipes are very similar – except I don’t use cumin. It’s funny that you posted this….I just made and posted hummus!

    I usually serve my Baba Ghanoush with home-made pitas warm, but un-toasted (I don’t make them, I buy them at a restaurant) then top with tomatoes and salt. My favorite way to eat it! A brilliant post – thanks!!

  6. I had no idea that eggplant and garlic with the main ingredients to a baba ghanoush. I love both! I like that it’s also a creamier version that hummus. I like hummus, but the texture doesn’t sit well with me. This might be just the recipe I need. I can’t wait to see the pita chip recipe. I’m addicted to pita chips!

  7. My girlfriend and I love pita from the oven with hummus. Always heard about baba ghanoush but never knew what it really was! Gonna be the next thing to try or make!

  8. I cant wait to try this – I wanted to let you know that I featured this in my “What I Bookmarked This Week” post today – stop by and see if you have a minute.

  9. I love to add about 1/4 of a cup of thick yogurt and caramelized onions over the top. I never tried roasting garlic but it sound great. Sounds like I know what will be for dinner.. and a side of barbecue tomato with saffron

  10. Yum. Pita chips are still warm from the oven, couldn’t wait, started eating it at the kitchen counter. So happy.

  11. I haven’t tried this yet, but just a tip- mash with a pastry blender. Looking forward to this one. I like to add a raw clove along with the roasted ones, but that’s just me.

  12. This looks fantastic. It also makes for such a beautiful looking dish. I have never made this before, but I have a feeling that it is right up my alley. Now I just have to go get some eggplant!

  13. I made this dish and LOVED it! I added a little liquid smoke to get that smokey taste. Is liquid smoke considered kosher?

  14. I have never heard about this recipe and i am finding it interesting. I will try out this recipe on this weekend . Nice post !

  15. Hi. Wish I had seen your blog before I made some baba ganoush last night! It turned out ok, but it is slightly more bitter than I would like, and I didn’t achieve the smokiness I wanted. I baked 2 whole eggplants on the oven grate (about 2 pounds each) at 400 degrees for a bit over an hour (too long? – I wanted to make sure they were fully cooked – after 40 minutes they didnt seem shrunken enough from the eye test, but they were fairly soft). After that put them in a plastic bag for 15 minutes. I peeled them & noticed the pulp was very green, not at all a mix of the golden & golden brown I expected, and the seeds were also dark in color, but not what I would characterize as “burnt”. I am wondering if that is a sign the eggplants were too mature? There are so many differing opinions out there about “everything you need to know about picking & cooking eggplants & baba ganoush” that it can be a little confusing. No one elsewhere mentions “Choose smaller, younger eggplants for roasting”. In fact, some say just the opposite, but your explanation makes sense to me. How do you tell if an eggplant is young? How small is smaller? Is it strictly about the size, or is it about the variety? I also made the Tahini from scratch. From what I understand if its not right it can be the cause of bitterness, but I was very careful not to overtoast it (2-3 minutes on a baking sheet in a 400 degree oven), used hulled seeds, & got it peanut-butter smooth. What is you think? Thank goodness I finally found your blog after searching in vain for confirmation on broiling/charring technique with an electric oven, which is the method I will definitely use next time, along with your other hints. BTW, is 4″ from the broiling element about right?

  16. It would be helpful to know a measurement for the cooked egg plant in ratio to the amount of tahini etc. I know I didn’t have nearly 3 pounds of raw eggplant and have only about a cup of cooked pulp now that it is roasted. I am sure I can do it by taste but maybe others have had this problem. Thanks

    1. Hi Traci, the recipe is written to account for the eggplant cooking down to a much smaller volume of pulp. When you start with the 3 lbs. of eggplant, it will cook down to the correct amount of pulp. Go ahead and proceed with the recipe as written; of course you can always adjust the other ingredients to taste. It’s not an exact science. Enjoy!

  17. I made this last night along with falafels and tahini sauce. Everything was fabulous. I usually go to the take-out place for this kind of food but I had fun making it all from scratch. Of all the cooking sites I use, this is my favorite. I always trust that the food will be really good.

  18. What a great collection of recipes and cooking tips! I add a little pomegranate molasses to my baba ghanoush. It adds a touch of sweet and tangy je ne sais quoi. Other than that it is just garlic, tahini, salt, and pepper, with another drizzle of pomegranate molasses and a sprinkle of parsley on top. Thanks for the blog.

  19. Instead of mashing the eggplant, shred it with a fork. All the other ingredients, except for the garnishes, I mix into a tahini sauce not too thick or watery. Place the eggplant in a serving plate, drizzle with tahini and garnish. Place extra tahini on side for those who want more sauce. It is delicious as a side dish or part of a hearty salad plate.

  20. My husband and I just took a taste and it is better than the sabra brand that I spend $3.50 on for 1/8 the amount. Your matbucha recipe is almost finished simmering and it looks SO AMAZING. My husband is Moroccan and he is duly impressed. I LOVE your recipe ideas and variety for both sephardi and ashkenazi. This Shabbat will be delicious! Thank you, you are one smokin’ shiksa in the kitchen!

  21. Great recipe, first tried this, this summer in Romania and they make it with home made mayo and some times with out and they add black pepper, and have it with bread, and veggie salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, red, green, yellow peppers) as well as hams… its the best food I had tasted in a long time.

  22. Hi Tori, thank you so much for this great recipe for one of my favorite dishes!
    Question: Is it possible to can larger batches of baba?

    1. Hi Greg! I have never tried canning baba ganoush, so I’m not sure what the end result would be. There is a bit of acid in the recipe but not a lot, so to be safe if you decide to try it I would go with pressure canning rather than regular canning: link to theshiksa.com That said I’ve never seen anybody do it before, so it makes me wonder if it’s not suitable for canning. Sorry I can’t be of more help here!

    2. If you can’t can it, freeze it. No reason this shouldn’t last a few months in the freezer and thaw just fine.

  23. Just a note to say that I made this this way and it’s just so magical and lovely. Mine just didn’t have the smoky flavor before. I had to be brave and essentially broil those eggplants. i will now never do it any other way. Thank you so very much! (I pinned too!)

  24. Hi there, just wanted to say that I made this last night and it was an absolute treat. I might go so far as to say it was the best baba ghanush I’ve ever had!

    By the way, in case anyone else is wondering I used very overripe eggplants and they were fine.

    I don’t think I’ll ever cook eggplant any other way again!

  25. Was desperately looking for authentic Baba Ghanoush recipe as I miss the UAE dishes while in Canada! My search and effort paid off. The dish turned out so good that my hubby complimented me (it’s a big deal as he’s quite a serious contender!) :). Thank u! Also appreciated the tips on type, method etc.

  26. Hi,
    I love Baba Ghanoush, so I was super excited to make this recipe. You cannot I,whine my disappointment when it was done and tasted so gross I can’t even start describing it! :( I don’t mean it is the recipe, don’t get me wrong! :) But i do have some ideas of what could’ve happened.
    1) I halved the recipe to make a smaller amount and used the second eggplant to make an antipasto that tasted delicious, so I am sure that I was unlucky and the eggplant I used for the baba Ghanoush was just extremely bitter. I did squeeze the liquids out but this eggplant got slightly more burnt than the other so maybe this also contributed for the bitterness.
    2) I am a “raw garlic” kinda girl (must me my Italian blood hehe), but this garlic looked so delicious I had to try it – because of my lack of experience in roasting garlic I think I over-roasted, it maybe got too burnt and ta-dah! – more bitterness.
    3) does the tahini leave a “grainy” consistency? Cause the whole thing was sooooo grainy it has the consistency of peanut butter – so I thought it could’ve been the tahini? I tried one of the garlics tho, and it also felt “sandy”… Really weird.

    So I kept correcting the salt and lemon until to got more bareable, and now it’s chilling in the fridge in hopes to get any better. If it doesn’t, it’ll trash it and start from scratch again… With a couple notes:
    A) careful to not over burn the eggplant and use the salt method prior to roasting it (to take bitterness away)
    B) I’ll go all raw garlic next time
    C) try it before adding tahini, and add it bit by bit instead of the whole amount at once.
    Sigh… I was sooooo looking forward to this tonight! Dang! :P

    PS: I am a fairly good cook, I promise haha.

  27. Have been looking for you for some time…so happy to find you again. Made Barbara ganoush two days ago w/no recipe. Something wasn’t quite right. First, I used a food processor…way too smooth…almost pasty. Know now temp wasn’t high enough when roasting eggplant. I compensated for the lack of smoky flavor by adding some smoked paprika..it helpful a lot. Your recipe will definitely be my next effort. Thank you.
    .

    1. Hi Donna! Bookmark the site so you won’t lose it again. :) I never make baba ganoush in the food processor, the texture and flavor are totally different when made that way. I really recommend making it as written here, I’m sure you’ll have a much better result. Smoked paprika is a nice touch too.

Leave a Comment

Please read through the entire post and comments section before asking a question, as it may have already been answered. First time commenting? Read the comment policy.