We have already delved into my childhood trauma of domates so today I thought I would open the door on my next therapy session – my complete retching disgust of patlıcan (aubergine or eggplant or just bleugh!). I mean seriously even this photo of my finished recipe of Baba Ganoush cannot make it look even slightly appetizing!
Patlıcan is not a food that I would voluntarily consume. It is slimy. It is bitter. Cooked it looks a bit goopy. All black and weird and just ugh! And just who would want to eat something that is named after an egg but is a plant? Does that even make sense? And while I am at it where did the name pineapple come from? Practically everyone else in the world calls them ananas (including here in Türkiye) but again some crazy person came up with the idea of calling it a pineapple. Salak!
The fact is that as a kid (and a teenager and even an adult) I hated patlıcan and refused to eat it. It was running a very close second to domates as my most hated food and I was thankful that my mother did not cook anything “foreign”. Just to clarify “foreign” also included Spaghetti Bolognese so the idea of anything really weird like eggplant in our evening meal would be practically unheard of (although I do have hazy memories of sitting down to liver or kidneys in our little orange Formica kitchen on more than one occasion).
The first time I came to Türkiye I tried “Baba” for the first time. Wary (as it was made from a most hated vegetable) but surprised. I loved it. Back in Sydney I would have never made it. I mean why bother to prepare it from scratch when you can get it home delivered by practically any Turkish or Middle Eastern restaurant for a reasonable price – and it would no doubt taste better too. Here in the Village though home delivery is scarce (although not unheard of) but regardless I love “Baba” here because I get to make it myself – any excuse to mangal. The Turk has questioned before whether Daughter and I are pyromaniacs. Whenever anyone in the family is thinking about having a barbeque we are there chomping at the bit to get around the flames. Me for “Baba” and Daughter … well I actually DO think she might be a pyromaniac but that’s for another day.
Like most of my recipes they were passed on to me by either my darling mother in law (who I still miss every single day) or my sister in law Songul. I do not use specific quantities or measurements I just keep adding ingredients until it tastes pretty damn good.
So what you need:
2 patlıcan (aubergine), 2 biber (pepper), as many yeşil biber (green chilli) as you can handle and 3-4 domates (tomato)
4 sarımsak (garlic) cloves
Limon (lemon) juice
A good dollop of nar eksisi (pomegranate molasses) and another good dollop of zeytin yağı (olive oil).
Tuz (salt) and karabiber (pepper) to taste
To make “the Baba” you toss the patlıcan, biber and domates onto the coals of your mangal to chargrill them.
Once they are charred and soft through I peel off the skin (usually burning my fingers in the process) before cutting them up. Some people mash or use a blender on the vegetables but I prefer a more rustic Baba plus the quicker it is finished the quicker I can consume it. Before you go any further let the patlıcan drain for a little while to remove some of the excess juice that they build up during cooking. Once drained I add way too much sarımsak (garlic) as well as the juice of one limon, and nar eksisi. I season with tuz ve karabiber and finally add the zeytin yağı (olive oil) – check the consistency as it can get a little runny if there is too much olive oil. Some people use tahini in their “Baba” but not me. I am not a huge fan of it at any time (unless I am making hummus of course but that recipe is yet another therapy inspired post).
This recipe is so simple and I try to make it at least once a week (like I said any excuse to mangal). If there is no mangal going on outside I can make “the Baba” by cooking the vegetables in the oven (cut a few slices into the vegetable to speed up the cooking time) or sometimes I cook it using a közmatik (a great little Türk invention to cook your patlıcan perfectly on the stovetop) but I prefer the really smoky taste that they take on when cooked on the mangal plus the flames that draw me in like a Siren calling a sailor to his death – OMG maybe I am a pyromaniac!
This, yoğurtlu patlican and acile ezme always makes up part of my meze when barbequing. A night with the family just isn’t complete without it on the table. I can’t get enough of it!
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