October 29, 2020

Recipe: Baba ganoush with crispy whitebait and zaatar 

When made at home, smokey, garlicky baba ganoush is the ultimate dip – especially with crispy whitebait and crunchy celery sticks to scoop it up with.

Baba ganoush with crispy whitebait and zaatar
serves 4-6

3 medium eggplant
80ml olive oil
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp sea salt
300g whitebait
½ cup plain flour
vegetable oil for frying
sea salt & cracked black pepper
young celery sticks

for zaatar
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
1 tbsp dried oregano or thyme
1 tbsp sumac
½ tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 190C. Coat the whole eggplants with a tablespoon of olive oil and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast for approximately one hour, or until the skin is charred and the flesh is meltingly soft. When cool enough to handle, remove the skins (they will slip away easily), place the flesh in a colander and allow to drain for at least half an hour. Place the eggplant in the bowl of a food processor with the garlic, tahini, lemon juice and sea salt. Blend, adding 60ml olive oil in a steady stream, until smooth.

Heat a small frypan over low/medium heat. Add the coriander and cumin seeds and toast until fragrant. Place in a mortar, allow to cool slightly and pound until coarsely ground. Return the frypan to the heat and toast both the white and black sesame seeds; place in a small bowl with the ground spices. Add the oregano/thyme, sumac and sea salt to the bowl, mix well to combine. Store zaatar in a tightly sealed glass jar.

Heat enough vegetable oil in a medium-sized heavy-based saucepan to shallow fry the whitebait. When the oil reaches 180C, dredge the whitebait in the flour, place in a mesh sieve and shake to remove excess flour. Fry the whitebait until very crisp. Allow to drain on paper towel and season immediately with salt and pepper.

Spread the baba ganoush on a serving plate. Sprinkle liberally with zaatar and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with the crispy whitebait and celery sticks.


This recipe first appeared in the March 2020 issue of SALIFE magazine.

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