Baba ghanoush is a popular Middle Eastern dish, often served as a dip with flatbreads or pitta. I sometimes add cooked chickpeas to mine for a simple, flavoursome supper, or toss it through pasta with fresh mint for an easy lunch. I highly recommend cooking the aubergines over an open flame for a deep, smoky intensity – I hold mine over a medium gas hob with a pair of barbecue tongs and my sleeves rolled up – although charring under the grill is nearly as good. For the accompanying toasted pittas, slice pitta breads through the middle then cut into triangles, brush with a little oil and pop under the grill for 4 to 5 minutes until crispy.
Serves 4 as a snack at 30p each
1 large aubergine, 70p
1 fat clove of garlic, 2p (35p/2 bulbs, Basics)
1 tablespoon oil, 2p (£3/3l)
A pinch of cumin, seeds or ground, <1p (80p/100g, Natco or KTC brand)
juice and zest of ½ a lemon or 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice, 3p (55p/250ml)
1 x 400g carton or tin of chopped tomatoes, 35p (35p/100g)
A couple of stems of fresh coriander, 8p (80p/28g bunch)
Chop the stem off the end of the aubergine and pierce the skin all over with a fork or sharp knife.
Cook under a hot grill or over a low open flame for 10 minutes, turning to char the skin on all sides – this is where the flavour starts to kick in…
When the skin is starting to blacken and blister, carefully remove the aubergine from the heat. Allow it to cool for a few minutes before handling, then cut the aubergine in half. Spoon the flesh from the skin into a small non-stick saucepan or frying pan.
Peel and crush the garlic, or chop very finely, and add to the aubergine along with the cumin. Soften on a low heat for a few minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes. Stir and cook until heated through. If you have a small powerful blender, sling the lot in with the charred aubergine skin and pulse for a moment for a deeper, intense flavour.
Finely chop the coriander and stir through just before serving. Finish with the oil and lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.
This recipe first appeared in my cookbook, A Girl Called Jack, available here. Photo by Susan Bell.
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