I-ATE Food Term of the Week: International Aubergine Dips


Dips are the main characters of our starters and can still play the role of main dishes if appropriately complemented by sliced bread, whether it be a rustic loaf, a baguette or a pita. The choice of typical dips around the world is almost endless and rarely disappoints.

This week we have collected for you some dips made with aubergines from different countries. We will trace the origins of the dips and their interesting names.

Baba Ganoush

Baba ganoush is made with roasted aubergines, garlic and tahini. It was invented in the Middle East, probably in Lebanon. Depending on the country and personal preferences, it can also contain herbs and spices, like coriander or cumin.

The name of the dish has many variations, such as baba gannouj and babba ghanoush. The word comes from the Arabic baba gannuj: “baba” means “father” and gannuj can mean “coquettish” or “coy”. One of the hypothesis is that it was invented by a member of a royal harem.


Another Mediterranean dip made with aubergines is melitzanosalata. It is typically Greek and often accompanies pita bread, tzatziki and fava, another dip made with a local bean.

The name literally means “aubergines salad”. For its preparation, garlic, onions, olive oil and herbs are added to the aubergines. Despite the name, the aubergines and the other ingredients are cut very finely, after having been baked or roasted. Therefore, its consistency classifies this dish as a dip rather than as a salad.


A bit further north than Greece is the area of birth of adjvar: the Balkans. This dip is made with roasted peppers and aubergines, oil, chilies and garlic. Both vegetables are minced and slowly cooked to make a delicious paste, to which the rest of the ingredients are added. This dip is prepared all over the Balkan peninsula, but it has been most likely created in Serbia, North Macedonia or Slovenia. In particular, the area known for the tastiness of its adjvar is the region around the city of Leskovac, in Serbia.

The name of this dish comes from the Turkish “havyar”, which means “caviar”. The reason for this name might be the fact that the peppers are passed through a meat grinder to turn them into tiny pieces, probably close to the size of caviar!


Benayoun, M. (2019). Ajvar. [online] 196 flavors. Available at: https://www.196flavors.com/kosovo-ajvar/ [Accessed 17 Jul. 2021].

Grammarphobia. (2012). The Grammarphobia Blog: The spicy history of baba ganoush. [online] Available at: https://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2012/03/baba-ganoush.html [Accessed 17 Jul. 2021].

OED. (n.d.). baba ganoush. [online] Available at: https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/250290?redirectedFrom=baba+ganoush#eid [Accessed 17 Jul. 2021].

Philosokitchen. (2017). MELITZANOSALATA – traditional Greek eggplant salad recipe. [online] Available at: https://philosokitchen.com/melitzanosalata-eggplant-recipe/ [Accessed 17 Jul. 2021].

Philosokitchen. (2019). AJVAR RECIPE & HISTORY: Balkan peppers dip – all you need to know! [online] Available at: https://philosokitchen.com/ajvar-recipe-peppers-relish/ [Accessed 17 Jul. 2021].

Wordsense. (n.d.). melitzanosalata – WordSense Dictionary. [online] Available at: https://www.wordsense.eu/melitzanosalata/ [Accessed 17 Jul. 2021].


Written by Maria Bruno, Schuman Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit. She holds a master’s degree in Translation and a bachelor’s degree in Italian Language and Literature. She is trained in websites and social media management, content writing and SEO. Currently, she is studying for her Diplôme Universitaire in Terminology at the University of Savoie-Mont Blanc.