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Baba ganoush is a Middle Eastern dish that varies depending on where it is prepared. Its primary ingredient is eggplant, which makes it easy to prepare in the United States. In Syria and other parts of the Levant, baba ganoush is something of a salad. It includes chunks of grilled eggplant, diced onion, tomatoes and other seasonal vegetables. The ingredients are tossed together with a pomegranate vinaigrette.
The second kind of baba ganoush is found in other sections of the Middle East. In this variation, the eggplant is grilled, then scooped out of the skin. The vegetable is pureed with tahini to make a paste. It is then seasoned and eaten as a spread or dip. The seasonings used are left up to the cook’s imagination, but popular seasonings include garlic, parsley, lemon juice, salt, cumin and even mint. Other cooks use ground coriander and top the dish with red pepper or paprika.
Like many ethnic dishes, forms of baba ganoush change depending on location, and are even seen outside the Middle East. It is something of a “transitional” dish that has made its way into Greek and other Mediterranean cuisines. It has even traveled down to Egypt and Ethiopia!
The trickiest part of making this dish is probably roasting the eggplant. Some people always fry eggplant or bake it in something like eggplant parmesan, but roasting it is a good option, too. To roast an eggplant, first wash the vegetable and pierce the skin. Place it on aluminum foil on a baking sheet under the broiler and keep an eye on it. Turn the vegetable once, and remove the eggplant when it is oozing and black on all sides. Put it in cold water, then peel or slice it and scoop out the contents for the baba ganoush.