Forget the Tahini!

September 22, 2007 at 7:57 pm 30 comments

Two Pounds of Eggplants 

I spent most of the summer trying to avoid making anything too ordinary with the farm’s produce.  I thought about posting a baba ghanouj (guh-NOOSH) recipe more than once.  But it just didn’t seem to have enough “ump” to it, ya know?  That was until I had two pounds of eggplant leftover from the Headhouse Market last week and an urge for some good “baba”.  When I got home, I went to the cupboard, all revved up to get the process going, only to find the tahini jar crusty and unyielding.  Suddenly, a baba ghanouj recipe without tahini became quite interesting indeed and worthy of a post. 

Eggplants ready for roasting

Fortunately I have an abundance of middle eastern cookbooks, my favorite of which yielded this excellent recipe that makes baba ghanouj ridiculously easy and only uses standard pantry stuffs.  Where have you been all my life, tahini-less baba?!? 

Eggplants after roasting

And the tasting panel (an impromptu dinner party of farm “staff”) greatly approved as well.  The variety of the eggplant, or even its condition as some of what I used wasn’t in peak form, doesn’t matter terribly.  What does matter to the successful outcome of this version of baba is the use of both fresh lemon juice and garlic.  When it’s all blended together, this is one of the creamiest baba’s I’ve ever had.   And it felt so good to give that ol’ tahini jar a toss since I only kept it around for the baba.   After all, I need the extra self space for the preserves I’m making from local produce.

Scraping out the eggplant flesh


Baba Ghanouj
Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian

1 1/2 pounds of eggplant
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 t. coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash and dry eggplant before pricking several times all over with a sharp knife.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray.  Lay eggplants in a single layer on the sheet and place in oven to roast for about 45 minutes or until eggplants are soft to the touch and look deflated. 

Allow roasted eggplants to cool completely.  You can even roast them the day before and store them in plastic wrap at room temperature until ready to use. Cut off the stems and slice lengthwise.  Using a spoon, scrap out all the flesh and place it in a blender or food processor.  Repeat with all the eggplants.

To the eggplant flesh in the blender, add the oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt.  Blend on high until smooth and creamy.  Serve at room temperature or chilled with wedges of pita bread.  Also good as a spread for sandwiches.   

(makes 1 cup)

Baba Gahnouj

Entry filed under: Purely Vegetables, Recipes, Salads.

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30 Comments Add your own

  • 1. radish  |  September 23, 2007 at 6:52 am

    it’s funny because i have a natural aversion to tahini and make my middle eastern dishes without. It’s been pointed out to me that I’ve shaved off quite a few caloric points that way – so love of chocolate cancels it out, but at least omitting tahini helps some… As for Madhur Jaffrey, her restaurant Dawat is my and my boyfriends favorite Indian place – the food there is outstanding. So if you are ever in NYC, you should check it out!

  • 2. taylor  |  September 23, 2007 at 8:32 am

    I hate bitter baba ganouj, and tahini is bitter. Maybe this is the way to go?

  • 3. Christine  |  September 23, 2007 at 12:20 pm

    This looks fantastic. I keep trying to like tahini, and just can’t. I happily leave it out of hummus but for some reason figured baba ghanouj wouldn’t really work without it. So I am delighted to learn that it does!

  • 4. Jennie  |  September 23, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    Taylor and Christine – YES, make baba without the tahini and set yourselves free! 😉 This version is definitely not bitter…very flavorful but still light and creamy. And so freakin’ easy – no excuse not to give it a try.

  • 5. Jennie  |  September 23, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    Radish – You get to go to Madhur’s restaurant? I’m so jealous! Is there baba on the menu? 🙂 I hadn’t thought about how leaving out the tahini would make it some much healthier. Good point! I was just being lazy and didn’t want to go get more tahini. 🙂

  • 6. Joanna  |  September 24, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    I was going to post a comment saying, ‘baba ghanouj without tahini? I don’t think I’ve made it *with* tahini!’ — except when I looked up the slightly-haphazard baba recipe a friend passed on to me, it does indeed call for tahini. I personally like tahini, but it’s always good to have a recipe that doesn’t require any unusual ingredients.

    I’ve been fascinated with the unusual (and phallic!) shapes of Asian eggplants all summer. Last week, the Landisdale stand at the Chestnut Hill market had two equally-curved ones that I pretended were horns, and this past weekend they had one that was over a foot long! It amused me.

  • 7. Jennie  |  September 25, 2007 at 7:10 am

    Yes, we’ve had some *very* strangely shaped eggplants at the farm this year! When we get one shaped like Abe Lincoln, we’re gonna sell it on Ebay. 😉

  • 8. therealpotato  |  September 25, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Yum! We make the with-tahini version pretty regularly.

    For a smoky version, you can char the eggplants over an open flame instead of roasting in the oven. Don’t try it unless your eggplants are the skinny Asian kind, though!

    • 9. julie  |  March 8, 2012 at 9:05 pm

      great suggestion as i love the smokey version and am not a fan of tahini. what is in tahini that makes it bitter? since toasted sesame seeds are amazing! i guess it’s just a butter version that isn’t so good? thanks for posting.

  • 10. Jennie  |  September 25, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    Good idea – thanks for the tip!

  • 11. therealpotato  |  September 25, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    Oh, I should add, make sure to peel off the charred skin before you mash it! 🙂

  • 12. Rev. Dave  |  September 9, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    I’m not a big baba ghanouj aficionado, but we had some extra eggplant on hand–but no tahini–so I thought I’d give this a try. I think I like it. Simple, tasty, good stuff.

  • 13. susan  |  August 28, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Can I just throw some toasted sesame seeds in when I blend it?

    • 14. sangriagarcia  |  April 30, 2016 at 9:16 am

      I know it would be very good that way but make sure the seeds are fresh before roasting. I think sesame seeds are not that bitter when roasted fresh. It’s really ironic that many people think that Baba ganoush has to have tahini. Whenever I have eaten in a real Mideastern traditional setting, they always make Baba ganoush without tahini and sprinkle freshly roasted seeds on top.

  • 15. Sharon Brown  |  November 15, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Hi Jennie,

    I love your site…well done! Did you know that Baba Ghanoush means ‘flirty papa’? Check out ‘Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love and War’ by Annia Ciedzadlo
    it will change your life….

  • 17. Kath  |  January 29, 2012 at 7:16 am

    I have so many egg plants in my veg garden ready for picking and no tahini so going to try this now! Thanks

  • 18. kaye  |  April 6, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Sounds lovely but does it need to have lemon in it?

  • 19. Anne Baker  |  May 6, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    It is better with lemon. Also I cut slits in the eggplant and pushed in garlic cloves before cooking on grill then use food processor to mix it all together.

  • 20. dan shulnik  |  September 9, 2012 at 2:40 am

    the recipe tastes better when adding vinegar rather than lemon juice. Or you can add a few drops of lemon juice to adjust the flavor, But vinegar definitely makes this dish tastes SO much better.

  • 21. Torri  |  March 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Hi! I’ve been reading your site for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Houston Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent work!

  • 22. Lola  |  September 18, 2013 at 11:00 am

    LOVE this recipe! As a vegan who is allergic to sesame seeds, most nuts, and soy, I have a very hard time finding snacks. Thanks so much!

  • 23. Farmers Market Baskets | Eggplant & a Scavenger Hunt  |  June 2, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    […] Grilled Eggplant Salad (what?!?) Eggplant Burgers (this recipe from Dr. Oz sounds amazing!) Baba Ganoush (a middle eastern dip just add lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and […]

  • 24. rossinhawaii  |  April 14, 2015 at 4:24 pm

    I added ground cashews (about a dozen, ground first then blended in at the end) which gives it a nutty deliciousness without the bitterness of tahini.

  • 25. rori  |  May 22, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Any thoughts on blending the small asian eggplant with the skin left on?

  • 26. kat9090  |  December 6, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    I have 8 big Italian eggplants from a produce rescue yesterday and no tahini. So here I am and the web page is snowing. The best thing to happen all week! Thanks!

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  • 28. Elaine  |  July 21, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Will try this one for sure…my son is allergic to sesame. Thanks

  • 29. Jennifer  |  August 3, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    I just made this – delicious! Thanks so much!

  • 30. Elizabeth  |  August 19, 2018 at 11:45 am

    Delicious! I actually sliced the eggplant into 1/4″ slices and didn’t take off the skins. I am allergic to sesame seeds so this was a great find.


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