My mom arrived to Palestine just in time for the long fasting days of Ramadan. It has been hot, but I dared to turn on the oven to roast a chicken and seasonal vegetables for my mom’s homecoming. I squeezed the long, slender Battiri eggplants alongside the chicken roast in preparation for another meal or snack. In the summer, I try to cook as many meals as I can in one shot when resorting to using the oven.
“I’m going to make baba ghannouj with those roasted egg plants,” I explained to my mom.
My mother replied, “You mean kar’eeya?”
In my mom’s falahee (peasant) vocabulary, all pureed vegetable dips are kar’eeya. The summer zucchini roasted and pureed with garlic, olive oil, lemon and plain yogurt is kar’eeya. And the eggplant roasted and pureed with tahini, garlic, lemon and olive oil is kar’eeya. A fellow hiker questioned the use of the term kar’eeya. Kar’eeya is derived from the root, Kara’, which is pumpkin. So in fact, the summer zucchini puree should be called kus’eeya since summer zuchhini is kusa in Arabic. While the eggplant puree should be called bait enjaniya. Nonetheless, it seems that the fellaheen from my mother’s time refer to them all as kar’eeya. And the city folk use their own terminology referring to the eggplant puree as baba ghannouj.
Kar’eeya (baba ghannouj)
2 large or 4 medium eggplant
1 garlic head
3 tablespoons tahini
juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper for taste
Roast the eggplant and garlic in olive oil and salt in oven at 200 degrees Celsius for one hour. Allow to cool. In a food processor, combine roasted eggplant, roasted garlic (squeeze the garlic out of the skin), and the remaining ingredients. Puree into a smooth dip. Refrigerate. This eggplant puree is great on toast or in a sandwich. You can eat it as a cold summer time side dish. Adjust the tahini and olive oil to your preferred taste.
Do you have a favorite summer time vegetable puree? Please share in the comment section.