Baba Ganesh or Baba Ganoush?


Fresh off the boat story. I got introduced to different cuisines after my move to America. My first meal, once I landed in Boston, was spaghetti and meatballs made by my fiancé ‘s mother. It was different from what I was used to and delicious. The next day we went out for dinner with Sean’s family to an upscale restaurant. I looked at the menu and found nothing remotely familiar except the word ‘chicken’. I knew chicken, so I ordered lemon chicken. I took a bite and hated it immediately. For an Indian, chicken was not meant to be eaten bland with only tart lemon as the overpowering flavor. Chicken should be cooked in a myriad of spices, after lovingly sautéing onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes…

My brother in law looked at my face after one bite of the chicken, laughed and asked if I liked my food. I contemplated if I should be polite or honest. I decided to be honest.

Anyway, after our marriage Sean introduced me to middle eastern food and a love story began between me and hummus, kebabs, koftas, tzatziki, tahini, baba ganoush. For the longest time though, I was confused as to why the delicious eggplant concoction was named after one of our most beloved Hindu gods, Baba Ganesh. Due to a touch of dyslexia, I read the menu wrong, Baba Ganesh instead of baba ganoush. And I heard it as Baba Ganesh when someone said out loud, baba ganoush.

One day, in complete innocence, I voiced my confusion to Sean, “Isn’t it strange that people named a food after a Hindu god? Why do you think they did it?”

“What do you mean? Which food?” He asked.

“Baba Ganesh! The eggplant dish that I love!” I confidently replied.

“Do you mean baba GANOUSH? Completely different from Ganesh.” Sean laughed.

It was a moment of euphoria and realization. Wait a minute…..two completely different words!!!

Yesterday, I made baba ganoush at home as pictured above. It looked lovely, I garnished it with love and as I was arranging the parsley, I remembered my confusion about the name of this dish long time ago. The memory made me smile.

4 thoughts on “Baba Ganesh or Baba Ganoush?

  1. The origin of the name of this eggplant dip is unknown and the meaning too is funny. When I was first introduced to this excellent dip, I too was equally intrigued. In Arabic, “baba” means father and “ghanoush” means spoiled. The word combination is also interpreted as “father of coquetry” or “flirtatious daddy” or “spoiled old daddy”. I like Baba Ghanoush and then What’s in a name? 😉
    There is another similar dip in the Middle Eastern cuisine called Moutabal with Tahini added to this mix.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it might be true that the word Baba Ganoush has come from Baba Ganesh. I know you may find it funny but eggplants kinda looks like Baba Ganesh’s head. This might be a reason for naming that dish like that. Just my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

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