September 1, 2014

Baba Ghanoush, and kick starting the International Blogging Marathon

We begin our journey into the International Blogging Marathon – a brain child of Valli, and the preparation for this has been going on since so many months. Like the Indian Blogging Marathon where we covered Indian states, this month will see us savour dishes from across the world in an alphabetical order. What’s interesting is more than 25 bloggers are participating in this from across the world, and the countless chit chat we have had is not funny. Bordering from humour to early leaders who had their lists and cooking done even before some of us were hearing about the country for the first time, it all comes down to comfort homemade food, cooked with love and enjoyed by the family :-)

One particular Googly thrown at me by the husband was no Maida (APF) and no refined sugars and very low fat to be used during this entire Blogging Marathon.. Rather than a hurdle, I took up the challenge, faltered a bit (read a lot), altered my recipe list a hundred times, and then ended with dishes that was welcomed by all in the family.

So stay tuned as we take you across the world through different countries alphabetically all this September. Words fail me when I thank Valli and the entire team of gals for their constant support and motivation (sometimes into the wee hours of the night , whatsapping endlessly). 

Loads of bookmarks and world cuisine books were consulted, and reconsidered again and again, till we started cooking something doable and tasty and healthy for the family. Not to mention the loads of information that google and wiki provided and sifted through them to present little tidbits for you along with the food made for that country.

Hope you enjoy this joy ride with me ...

When I had to choose for Alphabet A for today, I hopped between Austria and Armenia and Algeria many many times before settling on Armenia. Top 5 things about Armenia that I learnt ---

Flag of Armenia (Wiki)
The Etchmiadzin Cathedral
  • Armenian cuisine is as ancient as the history of Armenia, a combination of different tastes and aromas. The food often has quite a distinct smell. Closely related to eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, various spicesvegetables,fish, and fruits combine to present unique dishes. 
  • The main characteristics of Armenian cuisine are a reliance on the quality of the ingredients rather than heavily spicing food, the use of herbs, the use of wheat in a variety of forms, of legumes, nuts, and fruit (as a main ingredient as well aa to sour food), and the stuffing of a wide variety of leaves.
                                            (Source:Wiki and The Lonely Planet)

Location Map of Armenia - Courtesy CIA 

Baba Ghanoush (aka Baba Ganoush), like so many other middle eastern - Eastern Europe recipes, belongs to Armenia amongst so many other countries due to its geographical location, its cuisine is influenced by neighbouring Persia, Turkey and Iran. Its a versatile dip made with roasted garlic and eggplants and goes great with Pita crusts or veg crudites alike. Great dip to make-ahead for parties too. 

So, at the end of a longish post, lets get to the recipe :

Country – Armenia
Dish – Baba Ghanoush | Recipe type – Dips, served warm or cold
Spice level – Medium  | Difficulty level – Easy
Recipe adapted from Here
Prep : 20- 25 mins | Cook time : 10 mins | Serves : 4
Serving Suggestions : Pita breads, crackers, Veg Crudites, and also as a side dish for flat breads / yeasted breads ( I served it with Tacos)
  • 6-8 pods garlic
  • 1 medium sized eggplant
  • Red Onions – 1
  • Raw Tomato – 1 (Ioptional – but I added it)
  • Coriander chopped – ¼ cup
  • Tabasco Sauce – ½ tsp (I used really spicy version)
  • Basil leaves (fresh or dried) – ½ tsp
  • Olive oil – 1 TBSP
  • Tahini (or sesame paste) – ½ TBSP ** (See Notes for a quick version) - optional
  • Salt  & pepper – to taste
  1. In a lined baking tray, lightly grease the tomatoes and wrap the peeled garlic pods in double foil. Bake at 180-190 C for 14-15 mins till tomato is roasted and garlic shrivels and darkens a bit (To speed up the process, I heated a large iron wok instead and seared the garlic till they were roasted, and charred the tomatoes a bit)
  2. On a medium gas flame, turn the oiled eggplant several times (with a fork / knife inserted at the crown) and keep turning till the eggplant is roasted evenly on all sides (this will take about 9-10 mins) - I roasted the eggplants a tad longer coz S likes it that way so you see a darker version of this dip
  3. Cool both garlic, tomatoes and eggplant. Peel off skin of eggplant and lightly mash it with a fork. Chop up the roasted garlic and tomatoes (into smaller chunks)
  4. In a large bowl, add this mashed up eggplant, diced garlic,basil, tomatoes, coriander (or parsley), Chopped onions, salt, pepper and the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.
  5. It can be lumpy or smooth as you like it.
  6. Serve with canapés / crackers or anything else you might fancy. It keeps for upto 4 – 6 days under refrigeration, so you might enjoy it as a sandwich spread the next day too :-)

** Notes:
For a quick Tahini paste, blitz roasted sesame seeds with olive oil, a sprig of basil and thyme and some salt / pepper. I used black sesame seeds for this paste

Also linking to Beulah’s Eggplant event, hosted for Nayna.


  1. A great start to the mega marathon. I am not a fan of eggplant but your dip looks great. Waiting to see what else you have lined up this month.

  2. Nice one Kalyani and so happy that you could do this marathon :).And using this as a spread sounds delicious ...

  3. this is a very popular food here in NY usually served as a dip alongside hummus with pita chips or crackers. your version looks fab!

  4. Not sure whether the earlier comment went through. That's a lovely dip. Looking forward to your healthy creations.

  5. I am a big fan of the Middle East dips and spreads. .just that eggplants and I don't gel.
    I am glad that you could finally make it for the mega event

  6. So wonderful to read up on the country..great job there..and the dip sounds so good, this was on my list, though for another country..sounds so good..and looking fwd to the challenges you have taken up on yourself!

  7. Delicious, baba ghanoush is one among my favourite dip i can have with anything, my mouth is watering.

  8. Baba ganoush looks tempting. Nice way to start the run...

  9. Nice intro and a wonderful dip to kick start the bm.

  10. Yes even I changed my list so many times first wanted to make Armenian Pilaf then changed to some other country finely settled with Algeria this one is my only choice when ever i go out in NAfrican countries looks so yumm.

  11. Awesome, Kalyani. Lovely write up. Looking forward to all the healthy recipes..

  12. Like Harini says awesome. I loved the history write up. Love the different way of making egg plant. Looking forward to your recipes.

  13. Baba ghanoush is such a universal dish. I've a variation coming later in the month :-) Love your version with onion & tomato. Will give this a try next time.

  14. wow kalyani thats a finger licking dip :) looks so tempting I just want to lick it all now .. lovely write up dear :) I don't even have a list till now :P

  15. Delicious dish! And what a lovely write up! Thanks for linking it to the event

  16. Oh yum, we love eggplants a lot and this dip was in my to-do list for a long time now. i might as well love it with our south-indian breakfast also!! :)

  17. Nice beginning to the mega marathon. I have always wanted to try this dip but somehow couldn't make it. It looks so yumm...

  18. Dip looks great.. I planned on making it first then changed it to different recipe later.


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