In Israel, there's a baba ghanouj (sometimes called baba ganoush) recipe for every taste. Even the smallest markets carry several versions of chatzilim (eggplant). Home cooks and restaurants alike relish the opportunity to  tweak this classic, resulting in a multitude of interpretations for this Middle Eastern staple.

Try one of these three preparations, or make all three and serve as a trio of dips or a crowd-pleasing first course at your next get-together.

General Directions for Eggplant

Line stovetop with aluminum foil or burner covers. Turn a burner to high heat and place eggplant directly over burner grate, turning occasionally with tongs until all sides are charred and eggplant is soft, about 5 minutes per side or 15-20 minutes total. Remove to a baking sheet and let cool completely. Drain juices, remove skin and place eggplant pulp in the bowl of a food processor.

(I like my eggplant campfire-smoky--known as al ha'esh, or "on the fire" in Israel--but if the flavor is too strong, you can bake the eggplant on a baking sheet in a 400°F oven for about an hour, then cool and skin the eggplant according to the directions below.)

Baba Ghanouj (Eggplant with Tahini)

Makes about 2 cups

2 medium eggplants (about 1 to 1 1⁄4lbs each)

2 cloves garlic, smashed

2 teaspoons lemon juice, plus more to taste

3⁄4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1/3  cup pure tahini (not a prepared tahini dip, which may contain preservatives and additives)

1 teaspoon minced parsley

Prepare eggplant according to directions above and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add garlic, lemon juice, salt, and tahini and process to desired consistency, pulsing 20-30 times for chunkier results or blending 15 seconds for smoother results. Season with additional lemon juice and salt to taste. Transfer to bowl, garnish with parsley, and serve with wedges of pita bread.

Eggplant with Mayonnaise (Chatzilim be' Mayonnaise)

Makes about 2 cups

Isralies feel strongly about mayo in their eggplant--it's a love-it or hate-it sort of thing. For me, the marriage of creamy mayonnaise with the smoky eggplant is pure comfort-food, equally great as a dip or as a sandwich spread.

2 medium eggplants (about 1 to 1 1⁄4 lbs each)

3 cloves garlic, smashed

1⁄4 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon minced parsley

Prepare eggplant according to directions above and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add garlic, mayonnaise, salt, and lemon juice and process to desired consistency, pulsing 20-30 times for chunkier results or blending 15 seconds for smoother results. Season with additional lemon juice and salt to taste. Transfer to bowl, garnish with parsley, and serve with wedges of pita bread.

Eggplant Salad with Red Pepper and Scallions

This simple recipe is inspired by one I tasted at the Mahaneh Yehuda, Jerusalem's famous market (also known as the shuk). For this version, I would opt for the baked, not smoked, eggplant preparation.

2 medium eggplants (about 1 to 1 1⁄4 lbs each)

1⁄4 cup diced red bell pepper, plus more for garnish

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 scallion, green included, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons olive oil

1⁄4 cup lemon juice, plus more for garnish

1⁄2 teaspoon salt, plus more for garnish

Prepare baked eggplant according to directions above and transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 10-15 times until eggplant flesh is chopped, but some chunks remain. Remove to a bowl and add red pepper, garlic, scallion, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt, stirring to incorporate all ingredients. Transfer to a bowl and garnish with additional red pepper and scallion. Serve with wedges of pita bread.

Adeena Sussman

Adeena Sussman is a food writer and chef based in New York. She writes the bimonthly food column "Season to Taste" for Hadassah Magazine.