Eggplant Dip or Babaganoush?
I once read in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Best Selling cookbook Jerusalem that Babaganoush’s actual ingredients are debatable and have been debated over corner Machane Yehuda falafel stands for centuries. Is the eggplant puree’ mixed with mayo, tachina, or neither? As I am not a native Israeli nor middle-eastern, I will not throw my hat into this age-old debate as there will be someone with a true connection to this dish who will inform me that their grandmother is rolling in their grave over my rendition and said grandmother is not even dead (true story- see the comment section of my infamous Matbucha Tiktok. There were several locals that I apparently insulted with that one.)
Therefore I will call this Eggplant Spread. I do not doubt that I will be called out on this as well, but that’s just the nature of the internet.
If you are on the foodie side of Tiktok, you for sure have been exposed to the “Butter Trend” in its various versions. So this is mine. Instead of Butter, I am using eggplant, and the different toppings don’t just add beauty but additional layers of flavor.
Shabbat Table Dips
In most Jewish houses’ at least in Israel, there is a tradition to serve dips and small salads as an appetizer with the challah at the Friday night and Shabbat day meals. No doubt this also comes from traditional middle eastern food cultures. I always have a version of eggplant on the table for this part of the meal. Whether it is Spice Crusted Eggplant topped with tachina (like this one) or some version of Babaganoush in a bowl. Over Pesach, we were at a hotel and they served an eggplant puree’ drizzled with tachina and date honey. So obviously when we came home I had to do my own version.
You can either use a knife to chop up the meat of the eggplant or use a food processor and puree it until smooth or keep it chunky. It really depends on your preference and taste. I used a manual hand processor bc it’s just quicker to take out and then clean.
The eggplant is roasted in the oven with the skin on until very very soft. Depending on the oven can be an hour. Classically the eggplant is laid over an open flame on the stove, but this requires you to stand over it, and it is a bit more dangerous. When using the open flame method you do get that smokey taste that will not be achieved in the oven. However, I usually choose to go with the oven since it is safer, and I don’t want to have to stand guard.
Using a spoon you remove the meat of the eggplant and process with a bit of oil, salt, and a garlic clove. The actual presentation should be done ideally before the meal so that it stays pretty but you can prepare it a few hours in advance. To be able to drizzle the tachina if you don’t have the kind that comes in a squeeze bottle, keep the plastic covering over the jar and use a sharp knife just to poke a small slit (i will do a video on this bc its a great hack!). Shake the tachina in the jar before making the slit so the oil of the tachina mixes with the thicker part. Plate the Eggplant Puree first using the back of a spoon in a circular motion. Then drizzle on tachina and date honey using a squirt bottle or a fork. A fork will give thinner lines. Slices up some tomatoes and place them all over. Then chop up some green herbs and sprinkle on top I suggest parsley, coriander, mint, or dill but basil can also work. Sprinkle with salt and viola’.
Eggplant Dip Board
- Food Processsor optional
- 2 Eggplant Whole
- Olive Oil
- Flaky Salt
- 2 Garlic Cloves, crushed
- 10-20 Cherry Tomatoes, sliced
- 1 tbsp Green Herbs, chopped I used parsley but can be corriander, mint, dill, green onions or basil
- Raw Tachina
- Date Honey (silan)
- Preheat oven to the highest heat and put on the broil setting.
- Line a baking sheet with baking paper and place the eggplants on top. Once the light on the oven indicating the oven is at the desired temperature has turned off, place the tray in the oven.
- Broil until the eggplant is very soft. It will droop when you push it down when ready. Start by baking for 30 minutes and check using a fork. Poke the eggplant near the top where the stem/ green part is. If there is resistance, then the rest of the eggplant will need to cook longer to be softer. If there is a burning smell, turn the oven to regular bake mode and turn the heat down to 180c/ 360f. Bake for another 15-30 minutes until it droops when pushed down.
- Remove eggplant from oven. Can wait until cooled down to make it easier to handle.
- Using a know cut the eggplants down the long way. Using a spoon, scoop out the white meaty part of the eggplant into your food processor. Add in a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and crushed garlic.
- Process until chunky or smooth, depending on your preference. My family prefers smooth, I like both ways. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge until ready to serve (served warm is very yummy but straight out of the fridge is also great!)
Serving (ideally prepare this right before the meal):
- Get a large flat bowl or serving tray/plate/ board. Using a spoon, scoop out the eggplant spread, and using the back of the spoon, spread the eggplant dip out in a circular motion.
- Slice cherry tomatoes into circles and place them all over the eggplant dip (see picture for example). Sprinkle with flaky salt. Drizzle olive oil.
- Then in a back, and forth motion, drizzle on the raw tachina and then the date honey. Use a fork to get thinner lines and have more control. Sprinkle with fresh green herbs.
- Now make sure you have enough Challa and pita to go around!