KAKIAGE - Japanese Tempura Fritters


Earthy, garlicky, roasted eggplant dip with a whisper of sultry smoke.  Naan and pita bread simply cannot resist taking the plunge.


Besides being one of my all-time favorite things to say, (yes I have a list of words that feel good in my mouth. Doesn't everyone?) I was reminded, just the other night, that I don't make Baba Ghanoush often enough. 

We had an excellent table, top centre, at the funky Dream Cafe in Penticton, for dinner and a long awaited music and Aloha fix from Hawaii's own John Cruz, one of our favorite music makers.  

With anticipation buzzing in the air, we started dinnerJohn-cruz with appies of Salad Rolls with peanut sauce and the Tri-Dip plate we always order - warm pita triangles with little bowls of hummus, tzatziki and baba ghanoush.  All four of us agreed, the baba ghanoush was the best of the three.  (Oh yeah, now I remember, this is good stuff - note to self - must make baba ghanoush soon.)

The evening was indulgently memorable from start to finish.  Good food, good chatter, lots of giggles and  passionately delicious music.  John was on!  The man was hot, that guitar was on fire.  He filled us with Aloha, Hawaiian charm and kick-ass great music.  There is nothing that compares to a potent music high. Nothing!  Mahalo plenty John!  You rock!

Baba-ghanoush-plateSo, just a couple of nights after our John Cruz outting, with a satisfied, aloha soaked, luscious music perma-grin still stuck to my face, I set about making a batch of baba ghanoush. Sweet island tunes that I know every word to filled my house as I happily prepared for my dad-in-law's birthday dinner.

Everyone raved about the simple, earthy goodness of the baba ghanoush.  Really though, that particular batch of baba ghanoush couldn't help but be anything but tasty.  Besides the ingredients on the list, that dip was plump with aloha and swathed in sublime music intoxication. Yummy!

BABA GHANOUSH - 8 to 10 servings

3 good-sized, long, Japanese eggplants
1/3 cup tahini
3 plump garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 generous teaspoon Hawaiian sea, Kosher or other salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Good pinch cumin
Good pinch Hatch chili powder or cayenne

Naan or pita bread for dipping and scooping

Preheat BBQ to medium-high, or preheat broiler.  Poke each eggplant a few times with the tip of a sharp paring knife.  Grill or broil, watching and turning as necessary for about 8-10 minutes until the skin of the eggplants char and blister.  Place eggplants on baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 375F degrees.  Bake charred eggplants 20-30 minutes until very soft.  Let cool 15 minutes.

Slice each eggplant in half lengthwise and scoop all of the pulp into bowl of a food processor.  Add all other ingredients, except bread and process until beautifully smooth.  Transfer to serving bowl.  Drizzle with a bit of good quality extra virgin olive oil and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, so all the flavours mingle and get to know one another. 

Let sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving with warm naan or pita bread.  And when people ask what that tasty dip is, I know you're going to agree that some words just feel good in your mouth.  Enjoy!