baba Ganoush recipe easy dips Israeli salami
Photo credit Rush Jagoe

This Baba Ganoush Recipe Is a Tribute to My Grandmother

Chef Alon Shaya fell in love with food in his safta’s kitchen.

Alon Shaya is a James Beard award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author and television personality known for his unique culinary style that incorporates the food of his Israeli upbringing with flavors and techniques from around the world – from France to New Orleans, to name but a few. 

His glitzy new venture, Safta 1964, a culinary residency at the Wynn Las Vegas, has an ambitious menu worthy of the entertainment capital of the world. But the inspiration behind the concept is even more special. Like Shaya’s Denver restaurant, Safta, which he opened in 2018, Safta 1964 is named after his grandmother, whom he credits as his “original culinary muse.” 

Safta 1964, Shaya told The Nosher, “is a tribute to my grandmother and the types of dinner parties I imagine she might’ve thrown back in her heyday.

“With Safta 1964, we’re traveling back through time, imagining the kind of magical dinner parties that she would have thrown in the 1960s. We’ll be bringing out all my favorite ingredients and some fun tableside touches for the ultimate celebration.” 

These fun touches include a tableside Jell-o service, salatim platters and towers of gazoz, a retro carbonated beverage that was popular in the early days of Tel Aviv, before soda was widely available. It’s not a case of style over substance, however. The elevated Israeli comfort food Shaya is known for, largely inspired by his grandmother, is still present. 

“Some of my earliest memories of food were in my safta’s kitchen in Jaffa. She would char vegetables to the point of no return, directly on her stovetop, then turn them into lutenitsa and baba ganoush. That aroma was what made me fall in love with food, all those years ago, and it was through my safta that I learned to be patient as the humble eggplant chars over the flames until it becomes smoky and meltingly creamy. Because of that, this was one of the very first things I added to the menu at Safta 1964,” Shaya told The Nosher. 

You can find Chef Alon Shaya’s baba ganoush recipe below, and read more about his culinary journey here. (While you’re at it, bookmark his slow-roasted lamb shoulder recipe for the next time you want to wow your dinner guests.) 

Recipe courtesy of Alon Shaya, Chef and Co-Founder, Pomegranate Hospitality (New Orleans: Saba, Saba’s Lounge, Miss River and Chandelier Bar at Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans; Denver: Safta; Bahamas: Silan at Atlantis Paradise Island; Las Vegas: Safta 1964 at Wynn Las Vegas); Author, “Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel”.

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baba Ganoush recipe easy dips Israeli salami
Photo credit Rush Jagoe

Safta’s Baba Ganoush

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It was through my safta that I learned to be patient as the humble eggplant chars over the flames until it becomes smoky and meltingly creamy.

  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 large (1 lb) eggplants
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp raw tahini
  • 1 Tbsp ice water
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ½ tsp Morton kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Prick the eggplants all over with a fork before you roast them. To cook these on a gas stovetop, you may want to line your burners with foil if you’re worried about a mess. Lay each eggplant on its side directly on the burners of a gas stovetop, and cook over a medium flame for 25-30 minutes, until the bottoms are haggard and blistered with bits of papery white char just when you think they’re ready to rotate, you can probably cook that side for another 5 minutes.
  2. Flip the eggplant, and cook until the other side is equally charred; rotate them slightly if you notice that any parts aren’t coloring. They’re ready when they’re uniformly charred and you can pierce them at the neck with no resistance, 40-50 minutes total. The uglier they are, the more flavor there is inside. Take them off the heat, and let cool. 
  3. Steep the garlic in the lemon juice for at least 30 minutes, then remove and discard the garlic. Whisk the lemon juice with the tahini and ice water, and don’t worry if at first it looks curdled – keep whisking and, like magic, it will become light and smooth.
  4. Cut the tops off the eggplants, halve them lengthwise, and gently open them up. Scoop out the flesh, taking care not to bring along too much of the papery char, which is bitter. It’s not the end of the world if you have a few stowaways they’ll just add a little extra smokiness.
  5. Scoop all the creamy flesh into a fine-mesh sieve to drain away any excess liquid, then give it a few chops to make it spreadable. Fold it together with the prepared tahini mixture, sour cream and salt, and serve at room temperature.
  • Author: Chef Alon Shaya
  • Prep Time: 35 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Israeli

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