Yesterday I posted a recipe for a beetroot dip but it wasn’t the only one I had made for today’s lunch. I often make three, each with a different texture and colour and, of course, a different flavour. My favourite in the trio is baba ghannuge, where the secret is to get the aubergines as close to the grill as you can so that the skins burn a little and you get the smoky flavour that is so typical of this dip. Also, once you have peeled off the charred skin, you need to let the flesh drain for about half an hour to get rid of the excess liquid — you would be surprised at how much liquid drains out. Oh, and never use a blender with aubergines otherwise your dip will have no texture. It needs to be chunky even if it is very soft. I used to mash the aubergines with a fork but I now use a potato masher (much quicker) but I make sure not to pulverize the flesh too much.
I love beetroot. I can’t remember which author it was who taught me to bake instead of boil it. It was many years ago and I don’t think I ever boiled beetroot since. The great thing about baking beetroot is that you avoid any wateriness which makes a difference when you are using them to make a dip like the one below which I learned a few years ago in Aleppo, at Maria’s, the lady chef who does the cookery demonstrations on my culinary tours — not happening this spring because of the revolution!