When I'm short of time, dips play a big part in my diet. A quick snack is dips with crackers or crudités. A quick lunch is dips with crackers and crudités. A quick, tired, lazy dinner is dips with crackers, crudites and leftovers. This aubergine dip will slot in nicely.

I've called it an aubergine dip rather than baba ghanoush because, although the ingredients are similar, I don't ask you to smoke the aubergines – a process I find difficult, and frankly a bit of a lost cause, in a kitchen without a coal barbecue. I've also used sumac instead of the cumin or paprika traditional in baba ghanoush.

Sumac is one of my favourite spices. Made from dried and ground red sumac berries, it has a luxurious scarlet colour and suprisingly sour, citrus flavour. It's more widely available now, too, probably thanks to the influence of Yotam Ottolenghi. Whenever I use it, I think of a birthday card made for me by an old friend. The day before my birthday she asked what is my favourite spice. The next day I received a lovely hand-drawn card with some stick-figures dancing in a circle, captioned "sumac'in me crazy".

Now, I don't want to make this post about spice-related puns, but maybe you'll give me a little thyme of day? Bayleaf me, this won't last long. Some encourage mint would be nice, but I try not to pepper my readers with too many jokes.

Serve this dip in a wide bowl with plenty of warm toasted pita bread. Be quick – the first scoops will catch the garnish. I hope I haven't scared you off with my puns – but I know you'll soon be cumin back for more.





Roasted Aubergine Dip

Serves 4
Prep time:
10 mins
Cook time:
60 mins


3 largeaubergines (eggplants)
1 mediumclove garlic, crushed or grated
1 mediumlemon, juice of
½ tspfine salt
1 tspsumac
2 tbsptahini (optional - to make a more substantial dip - reduce olive oil by 1 tbsp if using)
45ml/3 tbspextra-virgin olive oil
4 tbspfinely chopped fresh parsley


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F. Use a fork or skewer to stab a 5-6 holes in each aubergine so they don't explode in the oven.
  2. Roast the aubergines on a baking tray for 60 minutes, using tongs to flip the aubergines over after 30 minutes. The skins will be burnt and black by the end.
  3. Remove the aubergines from the oven. Use a knife to make a slit in the skin so that the steam can escape. Leave for at least 15 minutes to cool.
  4. Peel and discard the skins and put the flesh into a colander. Squeeze with your hands to drain some of the bitter juices.
  5. Put the aubergine flesh, garlic, lemon juice, salt and ½ tsp of the sumac in a food processor, blender, or mixing bowl if using a stick blender. Pulse a few times to combine.
  6. Slowly pour the olive oil into the blender, pulsing all the while so it incorporates and thickens the dip.
  7. Transfer the dip to a wide serving bowl and sprinkle over the remaining ½ tsp sumac, followed by all of the parsley. Drizzle a little more olive oil around the edge and serve with warm toasted pita breads, crackers or vegetable crudites.