Lebanese Cuisine Basics: Mutabbal

Here is the second part of the Lebanese Cuisine Basics series and this is another of my personal favourites. Mutabbal (or what is better known as Baba Ghanoush) is a smoky aubergine dip that is the grander, more interesting sibling of that well-known but ubiquitous chickpea dip. Mutabbal relies on the interplay between smoky aubergine, creamy tahini and the citric acidity of lemon and is more pronounced than hummus bi tahina. If the ratio and preparation are right, this simple dish is elevated into more than just something to sink a few pita chips into. Top with paprika, pomegranate seeds and a sprig of mint and you have a great salad. I guess you could cut the aubergines into chunks (once smoked) instead of turning them into pulp, which could produce an interesting texture. This recipe is one my mum has used for decades so it's stood the test of time. It's too easy to not try once!

1 large aubergine
3 teaspoons of tahini
2 tablespoons of yoghurt
5 teaspoons of lemon juice
1 clove of garlic
a good few glugs of olive oil
a  sprinkling of salt

handful of pomegranate seeds (optional)
dusting of sweet or smoked paprika (optional)
sprig of fresh mint to garnish

Pierce your aubergine a few times with a fork (to let out steam) and place it on an open flame on your hob. Use tongs to avoid burning yourself. Your aubergine should start to smoke up, blister and wrinkle (so turn on your extractor fan). Keep turning the aubergine until completely tender and charred and set aside until cooled. Peel off the skin and chop up the aubergine. Add to a bowl along with the tahini, yoghurt and lemon juice. Add the crushed garlic and however much olive oil you fancy. Season to taste and then do actually taste to check whether the ratio between the tahini and lemon juice is right. Add tahini if the mutabbal is too acidic or add lemon juice if it lacks a sharpness. Spoon onto a serving plate and dust with paprika. Cut a pomegranate in half and tap the skin with the back of the spoon to release the seeds and scatter on the mutabbal. Add a spring of mint and some more olive oil. Toast some bread and tuck in.


11 December 2009 at 15:33 Phoo-D said...

We are crazy about Mutabbal and go through tubs of it from Whole Foods whenever we get the chance. I've tried making it once but wasn't happy with the results compared to what we could buy. I will give this a go again with your recipe! Do you remove the seeds when chopping up the eggplant?

13 December 2009 at 21:36 M. A. Salha said...

I try to remove the seeds but sometimes I get frustrated and just press ahead. I think it's a preference call. Hope it works out!

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