Melintzanosalata – Greek aubergine and tahini dip

melitzanosalata tahini

Melintzanosalata – or aubergine dip – has a place on every Greek table and at every Greek taverna, with the result that we consider it a purely Greek appetizer. But in reality it is a simplified version of baba ghanoush, a recipe which dominates the Middle East and has successfully travelled to Europe and America, becoming relatively well-known and popular internationally.

smoked aubergine melitzanosalata

The most important difference between the classic Greek aubergine dip and baba ghanoush is tahini. Tahini adds depth and special flavour to an otherwise good melintzanosalata, as long as it’s not allowed to dominate the taste of the aubergine, which ought to stand out.

The main secret common to aubergine dip and baba ghanoush, is the smoky taste of aubergine. Without that, as far as I’m concerned it’s not allowed on my table. All the flavour of aubergine comes through this smoky scent, which gives it character and intensity.

This can only be achieved by searing the aubergines over a flame or burning charcoals and so the flavour we are looking for can’t be achieved unless you have a way to sear your aubergines. From then on everything else is a matter of balance. So, the ideal aubergine dip borrows from the baba ghanoush – a proven recipe for centuries – and embraces tahini for both its delicious flavour and its nutritional value.

smoky aubergine dip - melitzanosalata

My aubergine dip has a smoky but multi-layered flavour, mainly from the tahini, but also from the lemon juice and vinegar, which give acidity, garlic which gives a spicy pungency and honey which balances the aubergines’ bitterness!

But the next secret here is to master the delicate balance between these ingredients, with the smoked aubergine as the mainstay, and without the other ingredients stealing the show, but simply enriching the flavour.

So have a look at the video we made and follow the instructions below to get the best Greek aubergine and tahini dip you’ve ever tasted!

The recipe:

This is a really easy recipe as long as you can sear the aubergine properly on a naked flame. It will take you 15 minutes to deal with aubergines and a further 10 minutes to complete the mixture.
Take care not to go overboard with the garlic! The flavour must come from the aubergine rather than the spices.

Ingredients:

2 aubergines, approx. 300 gr.
35 g Tahini (about 2 tablespoons)
½ clove garlic
10 ml lemon juice
5 ml honey
10 ml vinegar ( white or red wine vinegar)
10 ml extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. flat leaf parsley
salt, pepper

Preparation:

1. Sear the aubergines:

Place the aubergines over the flame from a gas hob or from a culinary torch or from a camping gas burner or, of course, burning charcoal. Note for those who do not have any of these, the alternative is to use the grill of the oven or the ring of a non-ceramic hob, but you will never get the intense smoky taste we seek. So it’s worth investing in a culinary torch.
Turn the aubergines every so often until almost the entire surface of the aubergine skin burns and shrivels. You should be able to pierce the aubergine with a fork by now. This will take you about 4 minutes for each aubergine.

Smoky Aubergine dip -melitzanosalata
When ready, put them in a bowl and wait for them to cool for 10 minutes.

2. Peel and chop the aubergines:

Once the aubergines have cooled, put them on a chopping board and with a sharp knife remove the blackened skins. Use kitchen paper to rub off small pieces left behind. Alternatively, do this under running water in the sink. Don’t worry if some blackened little bits remain – they’ll add to the flavour of the aubergine dip.
Now chop up the aubergine flesh.

smoky Aubergine dip -melitzanosalata

3. Prepare the tahini:

Put about 2 tablespoons of tahini into a bowl, pour a spoonful of water in and whisk by hand. You will see the colour lighten a little. Now add another tablespoon of water so it starts to loosen some more and become paler in colour.
Next add the lemon juice, continuing to whisk. Add the olive oil and then the honey and make sure you whisk right into the bottom of the bowl. Overall we are talking about no more than 2 minutes.

smoky aubergine baba ganoush

4. Combining the aubergine:

Now that the base of the tahini is ready, add the aubergine and whisk well to make sure it’s thoroughly combined with the tahini.

smoky aubergine baba ganoush

5. Finish the aubergine dip:

Now that you’ve actually made the mix with the basic flavours, you can add the ingredients that will give you the final flavour and balance. You can now add the amounts according to your personal taste. So now add the garlic, vinegar and of course salt and pepper, stirring, testing and correcting all the time. You could add more lemon juice or olive oil if you prefer. However, avoid adding too much garlic because it distracts from the taste of the aubergine.

smoky aubergine baba ganoush

Serving:

Finally garnish with the parsley which will give colour, freshness and a light crispness. Stir and serve immediately or alternatively put it into the fridge, covered with clingfilm, making sure it touches the surface of the aubergine dip – this way no air remains above it to dry it out.

smoky aubergine baba ganoush

Melintzanosalata – Greek aubergine and tahini dip 3.00/5 (60.00%) 2 votes

I was born in Athens, Greece in 1959. I have lived in New York, Amsterdam, Paris and of course Athens and have travelled extensively. I have three daughters and live with my Welsh partner, Sophie, dividing our time between Athens and Wales. After 30 years as a marketing and advertising strategy specialist, I started Cucina Caruso, my cookery blog in Greece, as a hobby in my late 50’s, focusing on contemporary Mediterranean cuisine. The blog became such a huge success, that it is one of the very few internationally that became a pop-up restaurant in Athens and on the island of Tinos. Having created a top gastronomy brand in Greece, I am now part-time advertiser and full-time blogger/chef/culinary consultant! My interest in cookery derived from my love of good food, having been raised by my maternal grandmother from Smyrna who filled my childhood with Eastern Mediterranean flavours, colours and stories. From her I inherited an innate appreciation for Greek and French cooking and finely balanced tastes with intensity and character. From my paternal grandmother, I inherited the name Caruso and an appreciation of Italian food culture, which achieves rich flavours with just a few fine ingredients. I adore great home-cooked Greek and Mediterranean food, which is both healthy and tasty! However, I have always believed that its rich heritage of traditional recipes has room for improvement, especially in terms of technique. In this international Cucina Caruso blog, I will introduce you to my fresh, contemporary approach to exceptional traditional Mediterranean recipes which have already been embraced by my Greek audience and can now be appreciated all over the world!

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