Right now it is high season for eggplants in my garden. I mostly grill them to be on the healthy side, but I prefer the flavors and texture of tempura or panko-crusted fried eggplants, especially with a dip of ranch dressing mixed with my fermented sriracha sauce.
Probably my favorite dish with eggplants, however, is Baba Ganoush, which is a Middle Eastern eggplant salad. It is like a dip or condiment similar to hummus, in which the eggplant is normally first baked or roasted and then blended down with other ingredients to create a paste.
I’ve been all over the Middle east and never saw a fermented version, but given my obsession with fermenting and surplus of eggplants in the garden, it was pretty clear what had to be done. Unsurprisingly, it’s much more sour than a usual Baba Ganoush, but the texture came out remarkably similar. I didn’t want to roast the fermented eggplant for a few reasons, including of course killing off the probiotics. But I am planning to make another batch which is half fermented eggplant and half roasted, to build up the flavor profile to include the smoky, roasted flavor you normally get.
The following recipe is just for a straight fermented version. I kept it simple; you can tweak it with other spices or additions you want.
It makes about 1 cup of Baba Ganoush (~2 servings); to double the recipe, use a 1/2 gallon ferment jar and double the ingredients.
You will need:
- Quart jar
- Blender or food processor
- Measuring spoons
- Knife & cutting board (for parsley garnish)
- Fermentation weight (enjoy this 20% off code: P4P3KFC5)
- Suggested: airlock lid
- 1 lb. eggplants (before peeled and stemmed)
- 2 cups filtered or distilled water
- 1 TBSP additive-free salt
- ~4 cloves garlic
For after the ferment:
- 2 TBSP pure sesame tahini
- 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil (plus an extra tsp added to the top when serving)
- 1 TBSP retained ferment brine
- 1/2 tsp paprika or smoked paprika
- Juice of 1/2 to 1 whole lemon (according to taste)
- ~1 TBSP chopped parsley
- Salt and/or pepper to taste
1.) Peel and stem the eggplants. Give the garlic cloves a whack with the side of a knife and peel. Rough chop the eggplant and add, along with the garlic, to the jar.
2.) Create the saltwater brine by combining the water and salt in a sealed container and shake vigorously until the salt is visibly dissolved. Add the brine to about 1″ below the jar shoulder. Add the fermentation weight and then cap. Ferment for around 2 weeks.
3.) Once you’re ready to process, strain the brine (and retain at least 1 TBSP). Place the fermented eggplant and garlic into a blender or food processor, along with the olive oil, tahini, retained brine, paprika, and lemon juice. Blend on low for several minutes until texture is smooth and creamy. (If more liquid is needed, add a small splash of either brine and/or lemon juice depending on preference.)
4.) Transfer to storage container or serving bowl and allow to sit overnight in fridge. When serving, garnish with chopped parsley, a sprinkling of paprika, and any other spices or ingredients desired (e.g. cumin, chickpeas, pomegranate seeds, thin lemon slices, etc.). You may also add more olive oil to the top. Enjoy with pita chips or wedges.