[Chef Watson] Trial #7 : Pumpkin Baba Ghanoush

This post is about testing recipes created by artificial intelligence, Chef Watson of IBM

Which spices spring to your mind in late fall to early winter?

For me, it’s pumpkin spice. I am reminded of my mom’s pumpkin porridge on cold winter days and the smell of pumpkin pie in the fall. Therefore, the recipe that will be tested this time is “Pumpkin Baba”, even if that sounds utterly unfamiliar. Anyone knows what baba is? Well, Wikipedia says that it’s a Lebanese version of hummus using eggplant mixed with tahini and olive oil.”

Baba ghanoush (Arabic: بابا غنوج‎‎ bābā ghannūj, also appears as baba ganush, baba ghanouj or baba ghanoug[1]) is a Levantine dish of cooked eggplant mixed with tahina, olive oil and various seasonings. The Arabic term means “pampered papa” or “coy daddy”, perhaps with reference to a member of a royal harem.[2]The traditional preparation method is for the eggplant to be baked or broiled over an open flame before peeling, so that the pulp is soft and has a smoky taste.[3] It is a typical meze (starter), often eaten as a dip with khubz or pita bread, and is sometimes added to other dishes. It is popular in the Levant (area covering Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Syria) as well as in Egypt, Kurdistan and Armenia.

The only mediterranean country I have ever visited is Turkey but I have heard that Lebanese cuisine is also very tasty if you like hummus, kebab and more. Well, I wouldn’t expect that I would make a Lebanese dish, but thanks to Chef Watson, now I’ve got an interesting ice-breaker! Now next time I meet a Lebanese person at a party I can say, “I haven’t ever visited Lebanon but I can make a Lebanese dish.”

Chef Watson’s original recipe : Pumpkin Baba


Recipe and ingredients


4 servings

baba_ingredients

  • 1 tbsp miso(I used Japanese aka miso, red soybean paste)
  • 1 oz extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cup diced pumpkin
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/4 tsp mustard seed
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp Hungarian paprika
  • salt, pepper for seasoning

 


1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450℉ degrees. Place pumpkin and onions on a rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Roast. Let cool.

Dalji : I wondered why Watson told me to place the pumpkin and onions together in the oven. My mind says, if I put onions in the oven, they will be burnt. The original Bon Apetit recipe says to use eggplants instead of pumpkins, and normally eggplants needs a shorter time to be cooked than pumpkin so the onions will not be burnt if I put them in the oven together. So I chose cook onions separately in a pan and put the pumpkins  in the oven.

2. Set a colander over a bowl. Scoop out the flesh of pumpkin and place in colander; discard skins. Let flesh drain, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Pumpkins in the colander

Dalji : The original recipe asks to drain the pumpkin and stir it occasionally, for 30 minutes. What? Why do I need to wait for the pumpkin to be drained and stir it for 30 mins? Pumpkins are less moist than eggplants (which are used in the original Bon Apetit recipe). Chef Watson should build a database about different cooking times required when an ingredient is changed to another.

3. Transfer pumpkin and onions to a medium bowl, and mash with a fork. Stir in extra-virgin olive oil, ginger, miso, lemon juice, Hungarian paprika, cinnamon, and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

 


 

Well, I confess that I did not have any idea what the Baba was, when I tried this recipe. If I knew that the original Baba was normally made with baked eggplants, it would be much easier for me to understand Chef Watson’s instruction.

However, the outcome was pretty interesting. You might be unfamiliar with its sourness and the coriander’s strong flavor, but it was quite addictive so much. So, that my friend who came over to my home to taste this recipe, described this dish as “it’s like a foie gras, unfamiliar at the first bite, but you will scoop it out again and again, as it’s addictive.”


For those whom it may concern, I’m not related to IBM or Chef Watson. It is my personal interest to test how artificial intelligence decodes the way chefs create recipes and I want to see if this service can be offered to everyone in the near future.

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