Mike Wolfberg's Recipe for Baba Ghannooj
This is one of several recipes developed by Mike and his late wife, Julie,
for a Concord/Carlisle Massachusetts Newcomers Gourmet Group
took place in the first half of the 1970s.
- 2 medium-sized eggplants weighing a total of about 3 lb.
- Buy firm, fresh eggplants with bright purple skin, rather
than soft dark ones.
- 5 1/2 TBL. sesame tahini
- This is a crucial ingredient; Sahadi brand is the best;
this used to be easy to find; it can be found today at
Middle Eastern grocery stores in Belmont, MA, such as
Eastern Lamejun Bakers.
- 4 medium cloves garlic
- peeled and sliced in half lengthwise, and the mature
- 2 tsp. dried parsley
- I prefer Durkees for this, even though I prefer Penzeys
as a brand in general. A tsp. of Penzeys
dried parsley is used when serving.
- 2 TBL. olive oil
- I tend to use non-virgin Bertolli or Berio brands.
Another 2 TBL. of this oil is used when serving.
- 7 1/2 TBL. fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 to 2 large lemons will yield this.
- 1 tsp. salt
- or less if desired
- almost 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- such as fresh ground Malabar peppercorns
- white or whole wheat pita bread
- Avoid Sahara brand; Joseph's is a good brand; another
bread that's good is Cedar's Stone-Ground Whole Wheat
- Wash and cut off the green stems of the eggplants. There
are two possible cooking methods: grilling and baking - I
prefer the taste of grilling the eggplants, since it
provides a smoky flavor to the dip.
- To grill, cook the eggplants on a charcoal or gas
grill for 20-30 minutes, turning them every 5
minutes or so to cook evenly. When I do this on
my gas grill, I keep the cover closed and cook on
the higher shelf. This tends to also bake the
- To bake, stab each eggplant all around with about
15 stabs, piercing the skin by about an inch. Put
these in a baking dish, and bake for one hour in
a preheated 400° oven. If you have a softer
eggplant, which is undesirable, it may take 15
- Let the eggplants cool for about 10 minutes. Slice each
one in half lengthwise and allow to cool further, and
then drain. Such draining rids the eggplants of their
bitterness; if you want some of that bitter taste, retain
some of the liquid. Slice off about 1/4 inch from the
stem end, and discard that slice.
- After another 10 minutes or so the eggplants are cool
enough to handle. Get a non-metallic mixing bowl for
collecting and then chopping the eggplant pulp. With your
hands and a large spoon, separate the pulp from the
clumps of seeds, and discard the seeds. There can indeed
be a lot to discard. Use the spoon to scrape the pulp
thoroughly from the skin. Discard the skin. This is a
wonderfully messy process!
- Chop the pulp using a sharp knife until there are no
discernable chunks or strings of eggplant. While doing
this, remove any stray pieces of eggplant skin you might
- Combine all the ingredients in this order, stirring as
you go: tahini, oil, pressed garlic, parsley, lemon juice,
salt, and pepper. The garlic must be pressed through a
garlic press - there is no substitute. A press with
smallish holes is best.
- The baba is ready to serve as soon as the parsley has
absorbed moisture, perhaps in about 30 minutes. The
flavors are more vibrant when served the same day - this
is recommended. It can be kept in the refrigerator, but
should be served at room temperature.
- Spread the dip on a flat platter. Drip on another 2 TBL.
of olive oil. Sprinkle 1 tsp. of Penzeys dried
parsley, crumbling it in your hand as you move over the
dip. My style of serving this with pita bread is just to
put out some loaves of the bread (perhaps warmed briefly
in the oven), and let folks break off pieces to serve as
dippers. You could also serve this with raw onion sliced
in half or quarters.
I find this dish is enjoyed more when it is served alongside
the similar dip, hummus tahini, whose recipe is also available on
my web site.