Baba Ghanouj is an Arabic dish that means “my daddy is spoiled.” It’s also known as Mutabbal in different regions, which means “it’s mixed up.” She said that it’s common for kids to make food for their parents after a certain age in her culture, and baba ghanouj was such a delicious and straightforward meal, kids would make it and say something like, “look, see how spoiled my dad is?” My informant ate it a lot growing up; she learned all of her recipes from her mom, because recipes were passed down in her family and her mother also inherited recipes from her stepdad’s mother, because he is Palestinian-Jordanian, so compared so Saudi food, theirs is a little bit lighter and distinct in her mother’s recipe knowledge.
This recipe, as well as many others, is significant to my informant, because since her family was poor growing up, her mother cooked cheap recipes like lentils stews (which are also used as a folk remedy for colds) hummus (which literally means “chickpea” in Arabic), and baba ghanouj with pita for her and her siblings all the time.
She also listed the cooking directions for me:
Burn eggplant skins on stove until eggplant juice is bubbling out, this is when they’re fully cooked
Let them cool & remove skin
Toss eggplants in bowl
Mash with fork
Place mashed eggplant in strainer over other bowl to remove excess water (save and use in soup or other recipe)
Return pulp to mixing bowl
Add smashed garlic (smash in wooden mortar)
Add salt and lemon juice
Add tahini 1 tablespoon at a time
Add Salt, Sumac & Olive Oil to taste
Top with sprinkled sumac, chopped parsley, tomatoes and olive oil
*Do your best to get all of the skin off. Don’t use any hard parts of the eggplant (usually the little bump at the bottom)