I’ve always been a fan of exotic flavors and tastes when it comes to food. In fact, I try to make it a point to try new cuisines when the situation occurs – Greek, Indian, Korean, or any other type of cuisine that hasn’t yet made it to my palette. I’m a strong believer in the fact that one of the best ways to get to know other cultures and be a part of them is to try the cuisines that form such a big part of these cultures.
For example, when I was in India, I ate roti with butter chicken, tried vegetarian curries with chickpeas and also tried their desserts which were mostly made of ghee. Then when I traveled to Italy, I made it a rule to try something different from the local cuisine every single day – a sort of self-obliged way to soak in the culture of a country so famous for its food.
Of course, while it’s best to try food from the country it originated in, we may not always get the opportunity to travel all the time. And in that case, I like to eat foods from a foreign country that I haven’t yet had the chance to visit, and then later play around with the recipes in my kitchen, trying to achieve a taste that is both familiar and exotic at the same time.
I’ve always wanted to visit the Middle East one day, and because I don’t know when that will come to pass, I decided to experiment with its cuisine. There’s a small but cozy Middle Eastern restaurant near my apartment, and almost every time we go there, we end up ordering Baba Ghanoush, a Levantine dish of cooked eggplant mixed with onions, tomatoes, olive and a variety of seasonings.
Since that is pretty much our favorite Middle Eastern dish, I decided to experiment with it, in the comfort of my home. It’s really extremely simple.
Start by slicing a large eggplant into thin slices lengthwise, and then brush the slices with olive oil on both sides. Heat up a grill over medium-high heat and then place the oil-brushed eggplant slices on top, grilling them until pretty grill marks appear, then flip the slices over and remove when grill marks appear on the other side.
Once the eggplant has been grilled, roughly chop the eggplant into small pieces and place it in the bowl of a food processor or high-speed blender together with olive oil, salt, pepper, sesame seeds, sesame oil, yogurt, lemon juice, minced garlic and ground paprika. Process the ingredients until you get a smooth, consistent paste – and if you prefer the dip to be a little creamier, add around one tablespoon more of olive oil. Pour the dip into a serving bowl and sprinkle with a bit of ground paprika.
This is an amazingly fast and easy dip to prepare, and in my opinion, it’s best eaten with crackers or chips, or even raw vegetable sticks. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do!
This is an amazingly fast and easy dip to prepare.
- 1 large eggplant, trimmed at the ends and sliced into 5-6 pieces lengthwise
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil + more for brushing
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup of sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup of plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground paprika or ground red pepper + more for garnish
- Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil on both sides
- Heat up a grill over medium-high heat and then place eggplant slices on top, grilling until grill marks appear, then flip on the other side and remove when grill marks appear on the other side as well
- Cut grilled eggplant into small pieces
- Process grilled eggplant, olive oil, salt, pepper, sesame seeds, sesame oil, yogurt, lemon juice, minced garlic and paprika/pepper in a food processor (such as this Vitamix) until smooth. If necessary, add 1/2 - 1 tablespoon more of olive oil and process for a creamier texture.
- Transfer the dip into a bowl, garnish with ground paprika or red pepper, and serve with taco chips, crackers or vegetable sticks.
Makes 1 small bowl