Dipping into a culture

August 18, 2010

Donna Catling's recipe for baba ghanouj ("ba-ba guh-noozh") is one of the few things she and her late husband Duncan brought with them when they left their teaching jobs in Iran in 1978 before the Shah was deposed.

The Catlings originally traveled overseas as Peace Corps volunteers. They also taught English in Southeast Asia, Polynesia, Micronesia and Japan before moving back to the United States. Before she retired, Donna also taught English at Washington County Technical High School.

Catling's baba ghanouj recipe is included in "Food For All," the 50th anniversary cookbook of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Hagerstown, along with other ethnic recipes that reflect the varied experiences of the church's members.

- Yvonne Pfoutz, Unitarian Universalist Church of Hagerstown

Baba ghanouj

1 medium eggplant
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
3 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons tahini (a sesame seed and olive oil paste, available in local supermarkets)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 tablespoon fresh minced parsley


Preheat the broiler. Prick the eggplant with a fork, about three or four jabs to a side, and place on a foil-lined baking tray. Set under the broiler. When the skin gets charred on one side, give the eggplant a quarter turn. When this side gets charred, turn again. Repeat until the entire skin is charred and the pulp is soft and mushy.

When the eggplant has cooled, peel away and discard the charred skin. Put the peeled eggplant, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, and salt in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

This dish may be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated to blend the flavors.

Put the baba ghanouj in a bowl, smooth over the top, and garnish with the minced parsley. Serve cold or at room temperature with pieces of pita bread.

- Courtesy of Donna Catling, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Hagerstown, 13245 Cearfoss Pike, west of Hagerstown. For more information about the church, go to .

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