Let me say this over and over again. The best part about blogging are the friends you make in the process. Friends who have now become such an essential part of your life, that even if you stop blogging, they wont just disappear. I have been lucky enough to meet some of the UK-based food bloggers and most of us try and catch up once in a while.
Last week, Suchi of Kitchen Karma invited Manjiri (Slice off me) and me over to her place and we had such a blast. She'd made a Mediterranean spread for lunch and everything tasted fab. The baba ganoush she'd made from scratch was the winner for me, closely followed by the Moroccan braised chicken. Got the recipe links from her the next day and made myself a Mediterranean feast for dinner :)
I am a big fan of Mediterranean food. In fact, a breakfast staple for us is hummus and toast. But I've never really tried making any of this at home, simply because I thought I'd never get the taste spot on. Suchi totally inspired me to give it a go at home and I'm surprised at how a few common ingredients prepared in a different way bring about awesome flavours. Talking of which, I recently got myself a citrus juicer from this really cool online store called Red Candy. Yes, all these years I was painstakingly squeezing limes and lemons and oranges, till the gorgeous red coloured beauty made an appearance. I love it to bits and its made my life so much easier. Previously I used to waste a lot of the juice, but now (like for example in Mediterranean cooking, a lot of lemon juice is used), I squeeze the heck out of the fruit and it gives me immense pleasure :)
The really cool thing about the store is that it is dedicated to the colour red. Be it home furnishing, interior accessories, kitchen stuff or gifts, red is the colour you'll get them in. They have some really innovative products and designs and some of them make really cool gifts. I got myself the citrus juicer, the pretty red and white tea towel and a nice churn jug. Hint: you know where to go for your Valentines day gifts right??? :)
Back to the recipe...To be honest, I had no idea baba ganoush and moutabel were the same thing. Its one of those dishes we religiously order at our favourite restaurant on Edgware Road, and till now thought it was a complicated recipe with speciality ingredients. Well, I couldn't be more wrong. The only ingredient I actually had to buy was the Tahini paste, which is now easily available in all the grocery stores. If it wasn't for my flat glass hob I would have charred the aubergine on fire and would have taken only half the time. Not complaining! It was yum and Ro is so thrilled I made food from his second favourite cuisine in the world (first being Chinese, no kidding!).
Recipe adapted from here
Garlic- 4 cloves (read notes)
Lemon juice- from one small lemon
Tahini paste- 3 tbsp
Olive oil- 3 tbsp
Pepper- two grinds (around 1/4 tsp)Salt- to taste
Chilli powder- to sprinkle (optional)
Preheat the grill/ broiler and line a baking tray with silver foil.
Pierce the aubergine halves with a fork, rub them with about a tsp of olive oil all over and place them, cut side down, on the baking tray.
Place the tray on the top most rack (closest to the broiler) and cook for about 30 minutes or till the aubergines are charred nicely on the outside. Keep checking half way through to avoid burning.
Once done, remove them carefully from the tray and chuck into a zip lock bag and zip it up. Keep aside for about 15 minutes, so that the aubergines can steam in their skins.
Scoop out the flesh from the charred skin (it comes off easily) and place in a bowl.
Add the garlic, lemon juice, tahini, 2 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper and pulse using an immersion blender or just whisk vigorously using a fork till they all come together.
Transfer the goodness into a serving bowl, swirl the remaining olive oil on top, sprinkle the chilli powder and serve with pita bread, vegetable sticks, bread or even tortilla crisps.
Notes: The original recipe called for only 2 cloves of garlic, but i had 4 peeled ones lying around and used that. Bad idea, as it was very garlicky. Id stick to two the next time.
I don't like chunky pieces of aubergine in my dip, so I blended it to a smooth consistency. Feel free to leave some of the texture in your dip by just mashing it with a fork.
You can also char the aubergines in the oven. Follow the above prep. methods but instead of grilling just bake them in an oven preheated at 200C for about 40 minutes.
With thanks to Red Candy for sending me the red props to review :)