What Is Baba Ganoush?

For most people, hummus is the end-all be-all when it comes to Mediterranean dips. Well, I’m here to tell you that there is another option out there. I’m referring, of course, to baba ganoush. I’m sure you have questions, like, what’s baba ganoush? What is in baba ganoush? What does baba ganoush mean? Is baba ganoush vegan or vegetarian? Where is baba ganoush from? Let’s set the story straight.

What is baba ganoush? 

Like hummus, baba ganoush (sometimes styled as baba ghanouj) is a popular Middle Eastern meze (small plate) that’s often eaten as a dip with pita bread. 

What is in baba ganoush? 

Baba ganoush is made with roasted or grilled eggplant. That’s what gives it that nice, smoky flavor. The cooked eggplant is chopped into a mushy consistency and mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and tahini. Some recipes (such as this one from the New York Times) also include plain yogurt, while others also include herbs like mint and parsley. 

Is baba ganoush vegan?

So, if baba ganoush is pretty much just eggplant mixed with some seasonings it has to be vegan, right? Yep, most baba ganoush qualifies as vegan or at least vegetarian. There are a few versions out there that may not be strictly vegan. In Syria, baba ganoush is sometimes made a little creamier by mixing in sheep cheese. Just double check labels or ask.

Is baba ganoush served hot or cold?

Baba ganoush is usually served cold. You can eat it hot if you want. But cold baba ganoush is the way to go. 

Where is baba ganoush from?

Baba ganoush is from the Levant. The Levant is made up of several countries in the eastern Mediterranean: Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Syria, and Turkey, among others. Different countries like to claim baba ganoush as their own and have their own unique styles. Some even have their own spelling. Baba ganoush can also be called baba ghanouj or baba ghanoush.

In Armenia, there’s a dish similar to baba ganoush known as mutabal. Mutabal is spicier and includes cumin. 

What does baba ganoush mean?

In Arabic, bābā  is used as a term of endearment for friends, and it also means father. The term baba ganoush translates to “father of coquetry,” which basically means “pampered daddy.” Next time you’re at a restaurant ordering baba ganoush, try to order some pampered daddy instead. They’ll love that. 

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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