• Karine Wlasichuk

A Taste of Bethlehem: Baba Ganoush

When I was in Bethlehem, a delightful elderly man who was selling hand-carved souvenirs made from olive trees (I got a lovely 'Star of Bethlehem' candle holder and a Christmas tree ornament for my parents from him) told me all about his harsh living conditions and the communal help he was grateful for (a truly unbreakable spirit was noticeable among the people stuck to live within confined walls- the handshakes, the smiles to one another). He was also the best hummus chef I have ever encountered, which I complemented him heavily for and fan-girled over a bit while repeatedly practising one of the only words I know in Arabic, shukran (I have never, ever recreated anything close to his hummus). He then told me how much he loved baba ganoush but that he couldn't get his hands on eggplants. Today, I will attempt to show you one of many ways to make a delicious homemade baba ganoush because I would love to fly back tonight and share a platter with him!

But a tad of information on Bethlehem. Most people visit this tiny city to either say they went to Palestine (I mean I didn't hate getting to take shots of Banksy's work) or to touch the soil where Christ is said to have been born (in the basement of the Church of the Nativity- a moving visit, regardless of your religion, I mean the history, the art, come on!). Oh, or women in need of fertility assistance also visit the Milk Grotto - I would urge you to go regardless- again, deeply interesting. Now. Naming its location is hard on its own as it is highly contested: Palestine, within Jerusalem, in Israel? You may view it as part of the Cis-Jordanian desert or a small town of the Judea desert, but until you see the walls covered in graffiti and meet the inhabitants who are not allowed to leave, you will not understand the true meaning of Palestine. This place is real, crumbling, and it is hurting. But today, with love for both sides of the wall, I am here to share a very simple recipe- I will go into details about my time there sooner or later because I know myself too well.

I apologise for the photo quality, I found them on my phone as the originals from my Nikon camera are on some memory card I am far too lazy to fetch right now. Back to the food. But seriously, visit this place!

You will need,

Eggplant (1, medium- mine today was much larger!)

Sea salt (a pinch or two)

Olive oil (just a drizzle to roast the eggplant)

Garlic (2-3 large cloves depending on your taste)

Tahini (Depending on the size of the eggplant, it can be between 2-3 tbsp to 1/3 cup)

Lemon juice (squeeze one full lemon or about 3 tbsp if bottled)

Fresh parsley (I put a handful and more! But some people prefer a couple of tbsp)

A few simple steps,

1. Preheat the oven at 400 degrees.

2. Slice the eggplant in quarters with the skin on the baking tray, drizzle with sea salt and olive oil and bake for about 20 minutes- depending on how roasted you want it to be, you can also go ahead and broil an extra couple of minutes.

3. Let the eggplant cool down for 10-15 minutes.

4. Peel off the skin (you can easily do it with your fingers) and discard.

5. In a food processor, blend all ingredients together (keep going until you get your desired consistency- I personally like it chunky!). Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Suggested pairing: grilled pita or any type of bread for that matter, fresh vegetables, on its own with a spoon (guilty!!):

*Insert translations for 'Bon Appétit' in Arabic + Hebrew thank you very much*