As a little girl I learned early on that my Grandmother June had an untamed spirit. She had small treasures from all over the world that were little calling cards from her expeditions. Small statues from Greece, tribal jewels from the Orient, and kaftans from the Levant and North Africa. Around age 12 I explored her jewelry box and found a picture of her sitting on a camel in front of Petra (the ancient city) in Jordan. She was wearing a lovely hand embroidered purple kaftan that got me wondering about such a place and if someday I might ever go myself. She regaled me with stories of the expedition to Jordan with my Grandfather. Then there was the baba ghanoush..
That evening for dinner Grandma fixed a Levantine spread. Baba ghanoush, lamb tagine, and cous cous. A pistachio dessert was served for dessert with hot mint tea. Naturally the mint came from my Grandmother’s garden. She was an ardent gardener (as were two other grandparents) and I managed to get that from her as well. Immediately I fell in love with the flavorful and aromatic cuisine.
Naturally I was anxious to grow up and start traveling on my very own expeditions. She explained over dinner how much she loved eggplant and fell in love with the dish after they had a picnic while on their camel expedition to Petra. It was served with large fluffy pita bread torn into small pieces. After dinner she pulled out an old photo album that contained photographs of her travels with my grandfather. Basically they have been everywhere. Happy pictures of her in Greece, Germany, Hawaii, China, Japan, and finally the Middle East.
The pictures of her in Jordan are undoubtedly some of my favorites. Exploring sand dunes on a camel, exotic looking meals, and steaming pots of tea served with much fanfare. The mysterious and ancient city of Petra caught my interest. At the time I did not know much about it except that she had been there, and I wanted to as well. It looked like ever so much fun. Now as a grown up I have my grandmother’s kaftan in my closet ready for my own adventure to Petra. Someday soon.
Although I have not managed to make it to Jordan quite yet, I have had the chance to experience other travel adventures: North Africa, Spain, India, and the jungles of the Yucatan. Definitely I was infected with wanderlust at an early age. Once I married my husband who hails from India I got to experience a whole new culture in ways that I had never quite experienced. These days I have saris in the closet and my spice cabinet contains red chiles, and masala galore. I have relatives that all live in India and speak a variety of different languages. The adventure continues on and shows no signs of slowing down. We are currently planning on adopting a baby from Kolkata so hopefully if I am lucky I can inspire my own granddaughter to keep on exploring.
This recipe is not the same baba ghanoush you will find in the grocery store. The purchased version is usually loaded with sour cream and often food chemicals. This version is true to its roots and dairy free. Serve it with gluten-free toast points or bagel chips. Or, go grain free and serve it with veggie slices. This summer I will be growing my own eggplant just to rock this dish, farm to table.
1 1/2 pounds eggplant
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley
Cut eggplant in half and spray cut side with cooking spray. Roast in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Let cool and scrape flesh into food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth.
Did you know that our gluten-free cookbook just hit the market? It is a gluten-free adventure around the world and is a perfect cookbook for any and all foodies. Read more here: http://thewhiskandthespoon.com/cookbook/
Are you curious to know more about Petra, Jordan? Check out this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petra
To learn more about the country of Jordan please visit: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/jo.html