three dips copy

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.

And the third dip I make is a pumpkin one which I learned from my wonderful friend Reem Kelani, with whom I cooked one day for a piece I wrote on Palestinian food. She uses pumpkin which is great but I prefer to use butternut squash, both for the colour which is more vivid and for the super smooth texture, a rather luxurious baby food!

Butternut Squash Dip

Serve 6

1 kg butternut squash (or kabosha pumpkin), peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 cup tahini

juice of 1 lemon, or to taste

few sprigs flat-leaf parsely for garnish, most of bottom stalks discarded, finely


Extra virgin olive oil for garnish

Pinch of cumin (if desired)

sea salt

1. Steam the squash for about 40 minutes, or until very soft. Let drain until cold. Put the squash in a food processor. Add the garlic, tahini, lemon juice and salt to taste and process until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

2. Transfer the dip to a shallow serving bowl. Make a groove inside the outside rim and drizzle olive oil in the groove. Garnish with some chopped parsley and a pinch of cumin. Serve with flat bread.

© Anissa Helou

Baba Ghannuge

Serves 4-6

6 large aubergines (about 250 g each)

4 tablespoons tahini

1 garlic clove, crushed

juice of 1 lemon, or to taste

sea salt

for the garnish

fresh pomegranate seeds (ideally the sour type)

extra virgin olive oil

1. Prick the aubergines in several places with a small knife to stop them from bursting during cooking. Place on a non-stick baking sheet and cook under a hot grill for 25 minutes, on each side. The skins should be somewhat charred to get the smoky flavour that is so typical of this dip.

2. Remove the grilled aubergines onto a large chopping board. Cut each aubergine in half lengthways, and with a spoon, scoop the flesh out. Place the flesh in a colander to drain the excess liquid. Let drain for at least half an hour.

3. Put the aubergines in a wide mixing bowl and mash with a masher or the back of a fork. Be sure not to crush them too much. You want the dip to have texture. Add the tahini and salt to taste. Mix well. Then add the lemon juice and crushed garlic. Mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

4. Transfer the dip to a shallow serving bowl and make a groove inside the outside rime. Arrange the pomegranate seeds in a star shape in the middle and at regular intervals along the edge. Drizzle olive oil into the groove. Serve with flat bread.

© Anissa Helou

There is 9 comments on this post

Leave a Comment