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.[page needed] It is a typical meze (starter), often eaten as a dip with pita bread, and is sometimes added to other dishes.
The bābā is an Arabic word that means "father" and is also a term of endearment, while ghannūj could be a personal name. The word combination is also interpreted as "father of coquetry" or "indulged/pampered daddy" or "spoiled old daddy". It is not certain whether the word bābā refers to the eggplant or to an actual person indulged by this treat.