Saturday, February 24, 2007

Badenjan Dip

A couple of years ago I had this fantastic meal at the Lebanese Taverna in Adams-Morgan in DC. The website describes it as such:
FATTEH BEL BATHENJAN: eggplant and chick peas, topped with toasted Lebanese bread, smothered with warm yogurt and sauteed pine nuts

It was delicious and I have been hoping to replicate it ever since. I tried one time about a year ago and it was a disaster. So I decided to try again tonight, using a recipe from Nigella Lawson. It came together nicely and was definitely tasty, though I'd cut back on the saffron a bit, but it still wasn't like the one I had at Lebanese Taverna.

I just discovered that in March they are having a cooking class where they will be teaching how to make my beloved dish, but alas, I cannot afford to pay $60 just to learn to make one freaking recipe. Instead, I will just force myself to visiting the branch in Rockville every time I need my fix.

Back to the recipe! Like I said, it was good, but I added too much saffron and the flavor was a little overpowering. I used Fage yogurt, which is my new addiction. We had it with some storebought couscous from Trader Joe's, and some pita bread. It was yummy and was a very good dinner, but I wish I'd just gone the extra 5 miles to the restaurant and bought it there.

Badenjan Dip
from Nigella Lawson

3 small eggplants (1 to 1 1/2 pounds) to make about 1 1/4 cups when roasted, pulped and sieved
2 tablespoons olive oil (not extra-virgin)
1 large onion, finely diced
3 fat cloves garlic, minced or grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in 2 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, to garnish
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted, to garnish
Dribble extra-virgin olive oil, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Prick the eggplants with a fork and put them on a baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until soft to the touch. Allow to cool before peeling and mashing them, then leave the pulp in a sieve to drain.

Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook until golden and then add the drained eggplant mush, cooking it with the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes over a gentle heat, stirring frequently. Take off the heat and turn into a bowl to cool and season with salt and pepper.

Add the yogurt to the cooled eggplant mixture together with the saffron in the now golden water, stirring together well. Turn into a bowl and sprinkle over the mint, toasted pine nuts, and a dribble of oil.

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