This recipe adapted from David Liebovitz will make sense only if you live in a house or flat with an oven. This is, from what I’ve been able to tell, about 10% of the housing in Hanoi, though I suppose some ovenless households supplement with a toaster oven.
Anyway, warm baba is not something anyone should miss, and the fabulously cheap eggplant available on the streets of Hanoi work quite well for a thrown-together fancy snack. Keep in mind, this recipe involves the use of a blending appliance, but immersion blenders are available on the cheap at most of the electronics/appliance stores. If your Hanoi diet is sadly lacking in hummus and baba ganoush, know that chickpeas and eggplant are both cheap ingredients here. No excuses.
I don’t recommend using the Thai eggplant, they’re thick enough that it’s difficult to get them to cook all the way through. The small thin eggplants cook quickly and with the surface area have more of a smokey flavor, which I like.
4-5 thin eggplants, washed and stabbed with a fork at regular intervals
tahini (I’ve made it with and without tahini, and like it both ways)
tiny pinch of cumin
medium sized pinch of chili powder
salt to taste
parsley (2-3 tbsp chopped)
one lemon (juiced)
Preheat the oven to 375. Using tongs (or chopsticks if your awesome) to hold these over the gas burner until the outsides start to blister. Do this on all sides, and then place the eggplant onto tinfoil. Wrap them together, put into the oven, and bake for 15-20 minutes. They’ll be done when you can poke them with a fork or knife and there is no resistance. None of that eggplant springiness.
Slice them in half, and scrape out the flesh…inevitably burning your fingers 35 times in 4 minutes. Or you could let them cool and then scrape. Up to you.
I through everything into the little Cuisinart container that attaches to my immersion blender. You may have to be more creative if you don’t have this attachment, but it’s possible with a bowl and some careful blending. Add tahini, most of the olive oil, herbs, spices, lemon juice. Reserve a pinch of the parsley and a bit of the oil for garnish on top.
Serve with baguette. Enjoy!