Last weekend my Dad, his partner and a few of their neighbours had organised a beach tidy-up and barbecue down in the little bay in front of their silo house and holiday apartments. It was all very casual, as most things are in Raglan. When asked if I needed to bring anything dad replied "oh nah..oh..if you want to?".
Our cupboards were looking pretty bare so I thought it wasn't going to be anything overly exciting if I did manage it. Then I remembered I had two shiny eggplants (aubergine) picked up on my last food shopping trip in Hamilton. I had intended to use them in a curry, but decided at the last minute to use them to make my favourite eggplant dish, babaganosh.
I had the eggplants all roasted off and ready to process when my little man, Kye decided to have the mother of all melt-downs. I kept looking at the clock, looking at my charred eggplants and back to Kye again, who by now had turned into a teary, inconsolable little monster. All because he wanted to go for a (illegal) ride on Si's scooter as we were all trying to get ready to go.
To cut a long story short, this tantrum lasted the best part of an hour, my babaganosh did not get made and we turned up at dads house, slightly tense and empty handed.
Dad didn't mind one bit though, he had enough food for everyone. We all pitched in and lugged large rocks, lining them up in mini break walls down the sides of the bay, before settling in for something to eat.
There had been rumours of my youngest brother Louie arriving back in New Zealand sometime that day, after 3 years abroad. No-one knew for sure when he would turn up, as he had cleverly ignored our emails and text messages asking him for his arrival time. Brother Ben and I were talking away, wondering if he would surprise us only 10 minutes before, when along strolls Louie all curly haired and pommy-fied.
Three years is a long time to not see your brother. While we have kept up to date via the internet (something that wasn't around when I lived overseas, other than email), it's always such a strange feeling to see someone so familiar after such a long time apart. He looks and sounds the same, just older and with a slight Scottish twang. I have a feeling this Christmas is going to be a good one. With both my younger brothers home, it's the first time in years all five kids will be celebrating together.
Babaganosh is one of my favourite dips, right up there with feta and cumin and almost in reach of the good-ol' vegetarian staple, hummus. The trick to making a really good babaganosh, is to burn the skin. Yep, burn it until it's black and charred all over. This gives it a natural smoky flavour that takes it from being simply blended eggplant and tahini, to something really special. Smoky smooth eggplant, earthy and ultra nutritious tahini, with a little fresh hit from the lemon. Perfect.
When I used to make it at work, I would always cook the eggplants directly over the gas. Actually sitting them in the flames. This looks pretty strange and is always guaranteed to attract worried stares from customers in cafes/restaurants with open kitchens! If you have gas in your kitchen, try it out, or use the open flames on a barbecue to achieve the same results. Failing that do as I have here, crank your oven on grill and cook until black.
Needless to say, the babaganosh was finished the next morning, Kye's remained calm since and I've been eating it spread thickly on toast, topped with slices of tomato for lunch. Yum.
This is perfect to serve with bread, vegetable sticks or smeared onto a burger bun. Keeps 4-5 days in the fridge. Makes 1 1/4 cups
- 2 medium (500g) eggplants (aubergine)
- 1/4 cup tahini
- the juice of 1/2-1 lemon
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp honey (optional)
Preheat your grill to 250 C/475 F. Put the washed eggplants onto a oven tray and place under the grill. Cook approx. 10 minutes until black, then turn over and cook a further 10 minutes until the skin is black and charred on either side. Don't stress if it looks burnt, that's the look we are going for 😉 Alternatively cook eggplants directly over the gas on a barbeque or gas hob. Once they are nicely charred remove from the oven. Drape with a tea towel and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Peel the charred skin off, revealing the lovely creamy flesh inside. Put this flesh along with any little flecks of charred skin that you can't get off (it all adds to the flavour!) in a food processor. Add tahini, lemon juice (starting out with just the juice of 1/2 lemon), garlic and plenty of sea salt and black pepper. Process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning by adding more lemon juice if needed, honey if the flavours are a little bitter or more salt and pepper if needed. Store in the fridge 4-5 days. Enjoy!