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What is Baba Ganoush? Or is it Baba Ghanouj? Origin, Recipe & More


What is baba ganoush? Is it healthy? Where does it come from? We have the origin story, spelling info, recipe, and more in this guide on the Levantine dip.

As a child, baba ganoush was a funny word. It felt like the obvious magical invocation to follow up an alakazam that didn’t do the trick.

Now I know better, though it’s still just as magical. (This is surely the least-NSFW instance of waxing poetic about an eggplant you’ll find on the interwebz.)

So, What is Baba Ganoush?

Baba ganoush is a dish of mashed eggplant, sesame seeds, olive oil, and seasonings, baked or broiled, and originating from the Middle East.

It’s oddly refreshing despite how thick and pasty it is.

baba ganoush in a bowl with garnish
Taken by Wikimedia Commons user Breville USA. [CC BY-SA 2.0].

Most commonly associated with Lebanon and Lebanese cuisine, it is also a staple of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines from Armenia, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey.

The Persian Gulf also has a modified version, usually including cumin and/or coriander.

(Related: Understand the differences between Middle Eastern, Persian, and Arab)

Baba Ganoush Questions & Answers

Here are answers to several commonly asked questions about baba ganoush:

Is baba ganoush healthy?

Eggplants are rich in fiber, while also containing the antioxidant nasunin, which helps to improve the brain’s blood flow. A quarter-cup serving contains 6 g fat, 10 g carbs, and 4 g protein. It’s also naturally gluten free and vegan!

Is baba ganoush high in calories?

According to SFGate, a quarter-cup serving of baba ganoush has only around 120 calories. This is much lower than even the low calorie amount inside hummus (around 200 calories for the same amount).

How long does baba ganoush last in the fridge?

Baba ganoush is best when it is still warm. However, it can last in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

What pairs well with baba ganoush?

As a dip, eat it with toasted pita or khubooz flatbread, or you can go healthier and eat it with sticks of celery or carrots. It also makes an excellent, healthy alternative as a spread on sandwiches, replacing mayo, for example.

How come it’s spelled differently, at times?

Sometimes spelled as baba ghanoush, baba ghanouj, and bābā ghannūj, the Arabic word “baba” means “father,” while the word “ganoush” translates to roughly “pampered.” So, it generally means “pampered daddy.” As for the spelling, it is a Latin transliteration from Arabic, and even the foremost dictionaries list it differently.

Baba Ganoush Recipe

To close things off, here’s a great recipe for a standard baba ganoush you can make in minutes. We tried this at home and loved this recipe for its simplicity and the rich, smoky flavor.

Ingredients needed:

  • 2 large eggplants
  • 5 tbsp tahini paste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • Salt to taste

* For a hint of smoked paprika flavor, sprinkle in some ground paprika when mixing!

How to make baba ganoush:

  • Grill the two eggplants straight on the burners until the skin is charred and each eggplant collapses.
  • After roasting the eggplants, place the cooked eggplant into a bowl and allow to cool (15 minutes or so).
  • Mix in the tahini paste, garlic, lemon juice, and salt until even and smooth.
  • Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over it and sprinkle some fresh parsley on top before serving.
  • Serve with a side of pita chips, toasted if you prefer, and enjoy!

Some tips: If you grill the eggplants covered with some mesquite wood chips to smoke, you won’t be disappointed! Also, try adding a few teaspoons of a full-flavored yogurt to really cream it up.

Eat it with some toasted pita bread or khubooz flatbread, and enjoy!

For related food and cuisine guides, check out our poutine recipe article, understand the differences between tempeh and tofu, or have a look at our article on the Swedish Julbord.

Christian Eilers
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Christian Eilers
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