Creamy with a complex smoky, garlicky, lemony, slightly nutty flavor, this Baba Ganoush (roasted eggplant dip) recipe will blow your mind. I learned how to make this dip in Syria and it’s been one of my favorite easy appetizers ever since!
I remember my first bite. Carefully, I ripped off a small piece of Arabic flatbread, shaped it into a little scoop, and dipped into the creamy dip decorated with glistening swirls of golden olive oil and flecks of bright green parsley.
Everyone around me looked at me eagerly, smiling, and seeming to collectively hold their breath as they waited to hear my response.
“I love it!” I exclaimed with an ear-to-ear smile.
It had a rich, creamy texture with a complex nutty, slightly tangy, garlicky, smoky flavor. I was hooked, and went in for another bite.
I was sitting cross-legged on the floor in the living room in front of a few newspapers spread out onto the floor to function as a make-shift dinner table.
Laid out on the newspapers was a spread of small dishes, which they called meze. Zucchini fritters, waraq ainab (vegetarian stuffed grape leaves), olives, dates, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, a head of Romaine lettuce broken off into leaves, bunches of fresh mint and scallion, labneh (yogurt cheese) topped with olive oil, fresh flatbread, and new-to-me eggplant dip.
I was in Damascus, Syria, and I was enjoying one of my first meals there.
It was beautiful.
Easy Baba Ganoush Recipe
Once you learn how easy it is to make roasted eggplant dip, you'll make it all the time. It'll be your go-to appetizer whether you're hosting the gathering or heading someone else's home. Baba Ganoush is perfect because it's easy to transport and doesn't need to be re-heated!
Baba Ganoush Ingredients
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Fresh lemon juice
- Greek yogurt
How to Make Baba Ganoush From Scratch
- Prepare the eggplant to cook on the grill or in the oven. If you're grilling it, brush the outside with a little olive oil. If you're cooking it in the oven, put it on a foil-lined baking tray. Either way, don't forget to poke each eggplant a couple times with a sharp paring knife.
- This is how the eggplant looks when it's done cooking - wrinkly and soft!
- Let the eggplant cool until you can touch it. Cut a slit down each eggplant and scoop out the flesh.
- Strain the eggplant through a fine mesh sieve, gently pressing down to drain off the excess liquid.
- Add the garlic to a food processor and pulse a few times to chop it.
- Add the eggplant to the food processor.
- And add all other ingredients!
- Process until the eggplant dip is smooth and creamy.
How to Store Baba Ganoush
Store this roasted eggplant dip in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. It’s even better the next day after the flavors have blended!
Does Baba Ghanouj Freeze Well?
Yes! I like to freeze Baba Ganoush in a glass container with a piece of plastic wrap placed directly on top of the dip to help prevent freezer burn. Once the plastic wrap is placed onto the dip, cover the top of the glass container with a plastic lid (if the container has one), or wrap it well with foil. Label the container with the contents and date.
You can freeze Baba Ganoush for up to 3 months.
Tips for Making Baba Ganoush
The biggest issue people have when making roasted eggplant dip is that it has the tendency to be bitter. Tahini, an integral component of this recipe, adds a slightly bitter nutty flavor and creaminess. But that’s not what typically causes overly bitter Baba Ghanoush.
If your Baba Ganoush is bitter, eggplant is usually the culprit! But not to worry, I have several tips to share.
How to help make sure your Baba Ganoush isn’t bitter:
- If your garlic isn't the freshest and has started to grow a green sprout in the center (which is known the garlic germ), cut your garlic cloves in half and remove it. These can be quite bitter!
- When you’re picking eggplant, pick one with smooth, shiny skin that feels heavy for its size. This helps you find fresher eggplant, which is typically less bitter.
- Don’t skip straining the eggplant after roasting to get rid of excess liquid. This will help reduce bitterness.
- Be sure to add salt! After you mix up this dip, taste it and add more as desired. Adding enough salt to this recipe will help make sure it’s not bitter.
- Also, don’t skimp on the lemon juice and use fresh (not bottled) juice. This dip needs the fresh lemon flavor to brighten it. And you guessed it – the lemon also helps balance the bitterness!
Baba Ganoush FAQs
What is the Difference Between Baba Ganoush and Moutabal?
Get ready to have your mind blown for a quick minute.
What most of us think of as Baba Ganoush is actually Moutabal!!!
More specifically, it’s Moutabal Batinjan, which simply means "eggplant dip" in Arabic. I learned this firsthand during my time spent living in Syria and Jordan. It’s funny, what most of us here in the US call Baba Ganoush is actually Mutabal!
In the Levantine area of the Middle East where this dish is from, Mutabal Batinjan refers to rich, creamy eggplant dip made with tahini and yogurt. It’s flavored with garlic and brightened with lemon and peppery olive oil. It’s typically seasoned with a hint of cumin.
Alternatively, Baba Ganoush in the Middle East is a dip made that’s actually closer to an eggplant salad.
Traditional Baba Ganoush is comprised of:
- Roasted, roughly mashed eggplant
- Fresh vegetables like tomato and green bell pepper
- Herbs, such as scallion and parsley
- Aromatics, including garlic and lemon
- Walnuts to add nutty crunch
- Pomegranate molasses to add sweet/tart complexity
(Also, note that Moutabal, which just means "dip", is also transliterated as Mutabal, Mutabbal, and Muttabal.)
Do You Peel Eggplant Before Roasting?
No! Whether you cook the eggplant for this recipe on a grill or in an oven, leave the peel on.
After cooking the eggplant, you can slice it open and easily scoop out the flesh.
How Long Do You Roast Eggplant for Baba Ganoush?
For this recipe, you can cook the eggplant on a grill or in an oven.
To Cook Eggplant on a Grill:
- Preheat a grill to medium-high.
- Brush ½ tablespoon oil on the outside of the eggplant. Use a paring knife to poke a few holes in the skin.
- Grill the eggplant until the outside looks slightly charred and the eggplant is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes for an eggplant 1 ½ to 2 pounds, rotating the eggplant with tongs as necessary.
To Roast Eggplant in the Oven:
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking tray with foil.
- Use a paring knife to poke a few holes in the eggplant’s skin, and then place it on the prepared tray.
- Roast until it’s wrinkled and soft, about 40 to 50 minutes for an eggplant 1 ½ to 2 pounds,, turning over once halfway through.
My Middle Eastern Cookbook: An Edible Mosaic
This recipe was adapted from my recipe for Mutabbal Batinjan from my Middle Eastern cookbook An Edible Mosaic. Check it out for more authentic recipes and cultural tidbits that I picked up during my time spent living in the Middle East.
More Middle Eastern Recipes to Try
- Red Lentil Soup
- Limonana (Middle Eastern Frozen Mint Lemonade)
- Arabic Breakfast
- Coconut Almond Flour Cake (Inspired by Middle Eastern Cake Harissa)
- Tangy Arugula Salad with Sumac (Salatit Jarjeer)
Baba Ganoush Recipe
- Fresh pita bread or pita chips
- Fresh vegetables such as sliced cucumber or bell pepper strips
- Preheat a grill to medium-high. Brush ½ tablespoon oil on the outside of the eggplant. Use a paring knife to poke a few holes in the skin. Grill until the outside of the eggplant looks slightly charred and the eggplant is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the eggplant with tongs as necessary. Remove from the grill and cool.
- Once cool enough to handle, cut the eggplant open and scoop out the flesh (discard the skin). Strain the eggplant flesh through a fine mesh sieve to drain off excess liquid.
- Add the garlic to a food processor and pulse a few times to chop. Add the eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, yogurt, cumin, salt, and 2 tablespoons oil. Pulse until it’s well-combined. It doesn’t have to be completely pureed unless you prefer it completely smooth. Taste and add additional salt if desired.
- Transfer the eggplant dip to a shallow bowl. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons oil on top.
- Add any additional toppings you like and serve with fresh pita bread, pita chips, or fresh vegetables for dipping.
- Nutritional Information: Information for this recipe was calculated without the topping suggestions or serving suggestions.
- Recipe Yield and Serving Size: This recipe makes about 2 cups, or 6 (⅓-cup) servings.
- Tahini Tip: Feel free to increase the amount of tahini (up to ½ cup) for a sharper bite.
- How to Roast Eggplant in the Oven For This Recipe: Instead of cooking the eggplant on a grill, you can roast it in the oven. To do so, preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking tray with foil. Use a paring knife to poke a few holes in the eggplant’s skin, and then place it on the prepared tray. Roast until it’s wrinkled and soft, about 40 to 55 minutes, turning over once halfway through.
- Recipe Inspiration: This recipe is adapted from the recipe for Eggplant Dip (Mutabbal Batinjan) in my cookbook An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair; Tuttle Publishing (2012). The original version has quite a bit more tahini and lemon juice!