Smoky roast eggplant dip. This classic Lebanese eggplant dip is the perfect accompaniment to cheese, salad, or grilled meat. It works particularly well with the smoky rich flavors of rare grilled beef or lamb. I have made this recipe slightly smoother and richer by adding creme fraiche; yogurt could be added instead. Throughout my travels in the Middle East I had never tired of this delicious dip, eaten with lots of freshly baked bread. Once you make some yourself, you will never again be satisfied with the store-bought version.
Recipe courtesy of "Street Food: Exploring the World's Most Authentic Tastes" by Tom Kime, copyright 2007. Used by permission of Dorling Kindersley Limited. All rights reserved.
|3 eggplants||juice of 1/2 lemon|
|2 garlic cloves, finely chopped||1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil|
|pinch of salt||2 tbsp creme fraiche or Greek-style yogurt|
|1 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)||freshly ground black pepper|
|1/2 tsp cayenne pepper|
Place the eggplants either directly on a preheated grill or under a very hot broiler. Roast the eggplants for 10–12 minutes until the skin is blistered and charred on all sides. Keep turning the eggplants with tongs while they are cooking. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool. (As the eggplants cool, steam is trapped, which in turn continues to cook the eggplants and helps loosen the charred skin.) When the eggplants are cool, remove from the bowl and pull away and discard the blackened skin. Cut the peeled eggplants into chunks.
Crush the garlic with a pinch of salt. Put the garlic and eggplant flesh into the food processor. Add the tahini and season with the cayenne, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth, then add the lemon juice. With the motor running, gradually add the olive oil in a thin, steady stream to make a paste (similar to making mayonnaise). When it is all combined, stir in the creme fraiche.
Check the seasoning. There should be a smoky sweetness from the roasted eggplant, while the tahini and salt provide a savory component. The lemon juice and creme fraiche are sour, and the black pepper is hot and peppery. Adjust the seasoning as necessary. Serve in a bowl as an accompaniment to other dishes, or as a dip with lots of fresh bread.
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