This is one of my favourite recipes of all time. Babaganush must have a smokiness to it. Essentially, the way to get this smokiness is to burn the whole aubergines, ideally over coals. If the chargrill isn’t going, then you can burn them directly over a gas flame.
This recipe is a hybrid inspired by various Arab and Greek recipes. I was making this dish for a wedding recently when my friend Nikandre suggested that we add stale bread as her Grandma used to. I jumped at the idea, always keen to find uses for dry bread. The bread filled the babaganush out, without taking away the rich creaminess of the aubergine. Saying that, I do find some recipes too rich, so the addition of some yoghurt lightens the dish and freshens it up.
Waste not: If you have any, then stale bread chopped and soaked in water briefly is perfect for this dish and also makes it more affordable. Another tip – carefully trim off the aubergine tops, to keep as much of the aubergine flesh as possible.
Ingredients - makes 4 small portions
1 aubergine 1 handful of stale bread, torn and soaked until its soft 1/2 clove garlic, grated 2 dessert spoons, thick yoghurt A good glug of olive oil 1/2 lemon + to taste Cumin to taste A few stalks of coriander or parsley, chopped roughly Flat breads - make a batch of Cleo or pizza dough
1) First char your aubergines. There are 3 options of how to achieve this, in order of preference:
- Light a BBQ and burn the aubergine on all sides;
- Place the aubergine directly over a gas hob, turning when necessary;
- If you have an electric cooker, then use a griddle.
The important rule with all three methods is to make sure that your aubergine is completely soft and cooked right through. There is nothing worse than undercooked aubergine. When the aubergine is soft, allow to cool a little. Then scrape out all the flesh into a bowl. Discard the burnt skin.
2) Chop the aubergine by hand until its almost a puree, but still has some texture.
3) Now add the rest of the ingredients. Mix and season, then adjust the flavours to your taste. I like a lot of lemon in mine.
4) If you do have a BBQ lit then have a go at making your own flatbreads. Make a dough an hour and a half before you want to cook them. You could use our Cleo recipe, just add a little more water than usual, or use a simple pizza dough recipe.
When your BBQ is scorching hot, roll out small batches of the dough, as thin as you can. Throw them on the grill one at a time. When they start to bubble up, flip them over. Allow the other side to colour slightly, then pull to one side. At this point I like to douse mine with olive oil and some sweet paprika.
Serve with the babaganush.