Eggplant Dip (Baba Ghanouj)

Updated, from the recipe archive. Originally posted in 2005.

Here in the San Joaquin Valley, the eggplant season is in full swing. At our local farmers market last weekend one could find eggplants of every variety – globe, Japanese, striped, white, even eggplants that looked like tomatoes. I have a couple still on the vine, after picking the one used for this recipe that was just begging to be eaten. Here is a wonderful recipe for baba ghanouj (also spelled baba ghanoush) a middle eastern eggplant dip. It is typically served with pita bread.

Eggplant Dip (Baba Ghanouj) Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 4-8 as an appetizer.

You can use a food processor to make baba ghanouj, but take care not to make it too smooth; this is supposed to be a rustic, slightly chunky dip.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 globe eggplants (totaling 2 lbs)
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp roasted tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (more or less depending on how garlicky you want your baba ghanouj to be), finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Juice of one lemon - about 2 1/2 tablespoons
  • Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley

Method

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1a Oven method Preheat oven to 400°F. Poke the eggplants in several places with the tines of a fork. Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and brush the cut sides lightly with olive oil (about 1 Tbsp). Place on a baking sheet, cut side down, and roast until very tender, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

1b Grilling method Preheat grill. Poke the eggplants in a few places with a fork, then rub the eggplants with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Grill over high heat, turning as each side blackens. Put the charred eggplants in a paper bag, close the bag and let the eggplants steam in their skins for 15-20 minutes.

2 Scoop the eggplant flesh into a large bowl and mash well with a fork. Combine the eggplant, minced garlic, remaining olive oil (about 2 Tbsp), tahini, cumin, 2 Tbsp of the lemon juice, the salt, and a pinch of cayenne. Mash well. You want the mixture to be somewhat smooth but still retaining some of the eggplant's texture.

3 Allow the baba ghanouj to cool to room temperature, then season to taste with additional lemon juice, salt, and cayenne. If you want, swirl a little olive oil on the top. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.

Serve with pita bread, crackers, toast, sliced baguette, celery, or cucumber slices.

Links:

Iraqi Style Baba Ghanouj - from The Passionate Cook
Egyptian Baba Ghanouj - from Curiosity Killed the Cook
Baba Ghanouj Pizza - from Dejamo's Distracted

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45 Comments

  1. Rosie R

    This eggplant dip is delicious, I strongly recommend it! Thanks very much.

  2. Donna

    I have been craving the eggplant dip after eating it in Kostas. This recipe hit the spot. Excellent! (and easy to use recipe for those of us who are not chefs :o)

  3. patty

    Hi, I newly discovered this site and I find the comments very interesting. I am of Lebanese origins and I like to add how baba ganouj is mixed. The blender overmixes and looses some of the flavors so instead you can use just a wooden spoon or like mom uses the pestle and just mash and stir the eggplant after mixing the tahini with the lemon juice and 3 Tablespoons cold water together and form a soft paste, I omit the cummin and the smashed garlic, make sure you have good quality sesame paste it makes a difference. Top if off with extra virgin olive oil and enjoy!

  4. Tea

    I love baba Ghanouj. I love the ease of this recipe. Thank you!

  5. Myra

    Please, I would love to know if I can FREEZE the above recipe for baba ghanouj without compromising the texture or taste?

    I’ve never frozen this recipe, so don’t know what to tell you. If you do try freezing it, please come back and leave another comment letting us know how it turned out. ~Elise

  6. Ellie

    I just made this and it is excellent!

  7. Christine

    This recipe was delicious. I ended up blending the whole eggplant (after removing stems) and liked the texture the skin added.

  8. Lauren

    I made this last night from an eggplant that I got in my farm share. I hate eggplant, but this recipe is delicious! Very flavorful, and I barely even realize that it’s eggplant when I’m eating it.

  9. Anthony Surma

    Great recipe!

    I made this today with some changes because I didn’t have Cumin or Cayenne Pepper:

    Removed:
    Olive Oil
    Cumin

    Substituted:
    Cayenne Pepper with Chopped Chile Pepper

    It came out great, and with way less calories without the Olive Oil.

  10. Cindy

    This was always my favorite item on the vegetarian sampler plates my family would order at Mediterranean restaurants growing up, and gladly this recipe was easy to make and delicious!

  11. Zonya

    This was my first time making baba ganoush. It was delicious! One improvement that could be made to the instructions is to clarify how to know when your eggplant is done roasting. I really had no idea how long this was supposed to take or what it should look like when done.

  12. Maris (In Good Taste)

    Love those bowls! I have the very same ones.

  13. manasi

    this dish is similar to indian “wanga (eggplant) bharit” , except we add tempering..in a separate pan we heat teaspoon oil and add pinch asafoetida, 1 green chili, 2 pinches mustard seeds..when mustard starts popping we pour it over the dish :)

  14. Lillianne

    I use tahini all the time but what is roasted tahini? My jar is all Arabic.

    In roasted tahini, the sesame seeds are first roasted. If you can’t find it, just use regular tahini. ~Elise

  15. Katrina

    This sounds truly delightful. Yum!

  16. kathe hackett

    try combining this with Hummus…excellent !

    just add the garbanzo beans……

  17. Sheila

    I think I am destined to cook with eggplant this week! Thank you for pulling this one back out and sharing it with us again. Looks amazing. Baba is a favorite treat for me

  18. The Starving Student

    Mmm…eggplant is so good, especially now since it is in season. Anyone who likes hummus will love this!

  19. Lydia

    I was planning on making baba ghanouj the other day only to realize that I didn’t have any eggplant left, but I did have a big zucchini, so I roasted it and prepared it the same way as for baba ghanouj and it turned out excellent! Since the zukes are a little waterier than the eggplant, I added a couple tablespoons of breadcrumbs to the mixture and it was scrumptious! Also added some fresh mint because it went so well with the zucchini…

  20. Denise @ TLT - The Little Things

    I love baba ghanouj, I think I love it almost more than hummus… Well, they are both great!
    What kind of tahini do you use? I usually work with the Turkish kind, but I’ve heard that the Libanon-kind is even better!

    This time I used some homemade, made from toasted sesame seeds that were ground into a paste. But usually we get tahini from Whole Foods. Can’t recall the brand right now. ~Elise

  21. Tempy

    This looks so good! I grew up eating eggplants however my family could muster how to prepare them. My favorite growing up was fried eggplant. You prepare a beaten egg or two adn season it to taste take the eggplant, peel it, slice it, coat it in egg and fry. Goes great with a side of rice with gandules! (pidgeon peas). I will have to try the Eggplant party version!

  22. hfriday

    There’s quite a dispute as to whether this dip is called baba ganoush or mutabbal. In Syria where this dish originated (although some may argue it originated in Lebanon), this is actually mutabbal. Baba ganoush is another type of eggplant dip mixed with chopped vegetables like green peppers, tomatoes with parsley, walnuts and pomegranate molasses drizzled over it. Both dishes are great but both commonly mistaken, even in the Middle East!

    Here’s more info: http://syrianfoodie.blogspot.com/2009/05/mutabal-and-baba-ghanoush-which-is.html

    My mother (an amazing Syrian cook) usually cuts a few slits into a large eggplant and grills it stove top on low heat on all sides until the skin is scorched, liquid pours out of the eggplant and the inside of the eggplant is soft. She doesn’t cover it with olive oil. After peeling off the skin, she chops it on a cutting board to keep that rustic texture. She adds tahini, maybe garlic but not too much, salt and pepper. Sometimes she adds a tablespoon of yogurt as well to make it lighter. Lemon is added to taste but shouldn’t dominate the flavors. Traditionally we don’t add cumin but i can see how it works and would love to try it the next time I make it!

  23. steph

    Thank you for posting this! We just got 4 eggplants in with our CSA delivery and I had no idea what to to with all of them!

  24. Rocky Mountain Woman

    This is one of my all time favorite appetizers…

    yum!

  25. momnivore

    Elise – have you ever tried Mirza Ghasemi? It is similar to Baba Ghanoush but is an Iranian/Persian version. Roast or grill eggplant as above. On the stove, sautee an onion and lots of garlic in olive oil. Add a TBSP of turmeric, then add the scooped out eggplant and 6 peeled/seeded/chopped tomatoes and salt and pepper. Cook until all the tomatoes are nice and mushy (on medium heat, maybe 15 minutes?). In a seperate bowl whisk together 4 eggs then pour it into the eggplant mixture and stir well until it is all cooked. Serve either over rice or with pita bread as a dip. SO GOOD and even better the next day.

    Wow, that sounds amazing. Thanks for the suggestion! ~Elise

  26. S.

    I love this stuff! Can’t wait to try this recipe, my Middle Eastern friends are going to love it! Thanks for the recipe!

  27. Mary

    In Israel we used to put the eggplant on the gasstove and let it sit there, until the skin had completely burned. Then we would cut of the stem, slice it in half and use a spoon to get the eggplant flesh out of the still hot eggplants (careful not to burn your fingers). Make sure to just leave the burnt skin.
    I’m trying to remember how we made it, but I only remember that it was with mayonaise

  28. Lindsay

    What a wonderful and simple recipe! Thank you so much, I made this tonight and just love it. I think it’s re best baba ganoush I’ve ever tasted. You’re recipes never fail! Thank you.

  29. Sanjeeta kk

    Never thought I could make my humble eggplants look so scrumptious!

  30. S.

    Hi Elise,

    I enjoy posting, because it shows my support for you in helping others with your recipes and I think it’s great what you do for others! So, thank you! My friends and I enjoyed this last night (they are from all areas of the globe). Thank you for another great recipe!

    S.

  31. A.

    Thank you!

  32. Kristi Rimkus

    My friend gave me eggplant fresh from her garden. All I need to do is pick up some tahini and I’m ready to make this delicious dip.

  33. bureaucrat

    I love eggplant.

    Similar to the comments made by momnivore, my Iranian friend gave me this recipe when I saw her eating for lunch at work.

    You take the grilled eggplant flesh, mix with the flesh of roasted tomatoes, grated fresh ginger and garlic. You cook it over a medium heat in a pot, then add an egg (or two) and mix it up to thicken up the mixture. It’s delicious with bread.

  34. almostveg

    If you like baba ghannouj, try this with an Indian twist at http://omnivore-almostveg.blogspot.com/2011/06/summer-eggplants.html

  35. Judee

    My mother in law is Middle Eastern and although she makes a mean baba ganooj, she never quite had a recipe to share. I’m thrilled to have this one to try to make it.I love all of the suggestions for variations on this recipe as well.

  36. Matthew Sarro

    This is exactly how we used to make baba ghanouj! These days though to be honest, we live next to a Lebanese market where they have an organic starter – we just have to add some tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice. Its just as good but less work, haha. Nothing beats fresh roasted eggplant when making this though, its fantastic when its still warm.

  37. Taryn

    Delicious, per usual on this site! We roasted the eggplant over our gas stove to get the smoked flavor that I have found I love in eggplant dips and determined we liked it best with the full amount of tahini (3T) and garlic (2 cloves). We made due with our big bottle of lemon juice rather than fresh (since my husband stole it for the hummus) and it’s still yummy.

  38. Michael

    Great recipe. Thanks! To add some smokiness to baba ghanouj, I added a pinch of smoked paprika at the end.

  39. Shelby

    Made this on New year’s eve for me and my boyfriend Kevin. It was rich, garlicky and EASY. Served with pita chips. Great recipe. Keep them coming!

  40. Denise Boyles

    I remember when I lived in Erie PA and Wegmans had baba ghanoj where they served all the olives and many other special things. Moving to Fl I could not find baba ghanoj, so I looked on the internet to make my own. This is wonderful. Thank you .

  41. Read

    It’s a mess, but if you don’t have a grill and you do have a gas stove, you can roast the eggplant directly over a burner. Set the eggplant (without oil) right on the grate over medium-high heat, turning as the skin chars until the eggplant is very soft all over. (The fatter the eggplant, the lower the heat should be, but not lower than medium.) Cooking it this way gets it smokey, which makes a big difference in the taste. You don’t have to be too obsessive about removing the charred skin, though obviously you want to remove most of it. (The main mess is from juice coming out of the eggplant as it cooks. If you use small [e.g., Italian] eggplants, that mostly doesn’t happen.)

  42. Irina

    This recipe reminds me of “eggplant caviar,” a dish that is very popular in Russia and probably originated either in the South Caucasus (Georgia/Armenia) or in the Balkans. There are many versions of it, but in my family we make it with eggplant and tomatoes, lots of garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and lemon juice or vinegar. The veggies are roasted and pureed, and then seasoned with fresh garlic and the rest of the ingredients. It’s great as a dip or spread or simply eaten with a spoon, and is even more delicious the next day.

  43. Danielle

    Just made it now without the cumin and with fresh ground sesame seeds (I used the magic bullet) instead of the paste. Two cloves of garlic all the way! It’s delicious.

  44. Marina

    I LOVE your site and make recipes from it very often. Thank you so much. I made this from the plethora of eggplants my parents had. While it was good, the cumin was far too overpowering and I only added half of what was called for. I will completely omit next time (which is this afternoon). The tahini is wonderful in it.

  45. Mary

    Delicious! My first experience with eggplant ever and I’m hooked on this dip. I eat it with banana peppers from our garden. The eggplant was from our garden too.

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