We have fun chowing down on this dish at parties- ah, a dip that’s not loaded with chemicals and bad fats! It’s even naturally low-carb and paleo. Not everyone’s savvy to what it is, and some may even be afraid (“I don’t think I like eggplant”). But with the way the eggplant’s roasted, then mixed with plentiful garlic, lemon, and sesame (butter or even sesame oil), it’s got a great, silky texture. Yum!
Sometimes we feel a bit silly about the name. (Say that fast, three times.) The word means “Father who spoils”… you can tell it’s been affectionately named, right? One Jewish tradition is to drizzle a bit of pomegranate juice on top, or garnish with pomegranate seeds; other recipes might add a bit of yogurt.
This Mideastern recipe also includes tahini, a nut butter made from sesame seeds. In East Asian cultures, the tahini is often made from unhulled, brown sesame seeds, which are most nutritious, with extra minerals and fiber. The seeds can be ground to a paste with a small electric coffee/spice grinder.
More typical is a ground paste of hulled white sesame seeds, which is a bit smoother than its unrefined cousin, often found at specialty stores (or here, on Amazon). An other alternative to tahini, for those with limited resources: Toasted sesame oil, found in the Asian section of many grocery stores.
The standard Globe eggplant takes longer to cook through; Italian and Japanese eggplants will cook more quickly. The eggplant is broiled or pan-roasted (or grilled) until the skin is quite charred, which yields a soft, silky “meat” inside- the basis of this spread. Serves 6 as a side dish; serves 10-15 as an appetizer.
- 1 lb. eggplant (one large eggplant, or up to 6 skinny ones)
- Zest of half lemon
- Juice of 1 lemon (about 1 TBS.)
- 1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh garlic (about 3 big cloves)
- 1/4 c. Tahini (see notes above, or substitute 2 TBS. toasted sesame oil)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 c. Virgin olive oil (plus extra for garnishing)
- Parsley for garnish
- 6 or so Pitas, or crackers or other bread, for dipping
- Optional: 1/4 c. black or Greek olives
- Optional: Pomegranate juice, for drizzling on afterwards, or fresh pomegranate seeds
1. Use a charcoal grill if available, or roast the eggplant in a dry skillet on highest heat. Use: > 1 lb. eggplant, whole
2. Let the eggplant cook on a hot charcoal grill, or in an iron pan. Turn every 7 minutes or so, as needed, until the skin is charred on each side, and the eggplant feels soft. This will probably take 30-60 minutes, depending on heat and the size of the eggplants. Covering the pan will help it to cook through.
3. Let the eggplant cool enough to handle. Peel the skin and discard. Hand-chop the eggplant, or use a food processor (or blender), processing until smooth. Add: > 1 tsp. grated lemon peel > 1 TBS. lemon juice > 1 1/2 tsp. garlic cloves (3 big cloves) > 1/4 c. Tahini (or 2 TBS. toasted sesame oil) > 1/2 tsp. salt > 1/4 c. Virgin olive oil
4. To serve, turn mixture out into shallow serving bowl, drizzle more olive oil on top, and garnish with chopped parsley. Other garnishing options: top with olives, pine nuts, or pomegranate seeds, or drizzle pomegranate juice on top, or even yogurt. Serve at room temperature, with toasted pita triangles, crackers, or other breads.