Moutabel (Jordan)

Moutabel* is a smoky eggplant (or aubergine) dip from the Levant which is particularly popular in Jordan. You would enjoy this with warm pita bread as part of a mezze, a large spread of appetizers like hummus, tabouleh, and other delicious taste sensations.

 

What makes moutabel different from baba ghanoush is the addition of tahini, that almost peanut buttery sesame paste. This makes moutabel significantly smoother in texture, which I like, without overwhelming the eggplant and garlic.

 

The key to successful eggplant spreads is the cooking. Flame-grilled is the best way to go, but roasting in an oven is fine too. It’s important not only to make sure the skin is blackened all over but that the eggplant has basically been cooked into a soft goo. If you think it’s done, it’s probably not done. The more you cook out the liquid and break down the fibers, the better your dip will be.

 

I’ll be honest - I’m giving this recipe now, but I won’t try it myself until the summer. Getting a perfect ripe eggplant makes a huge difference, and this is really a summery dip, with the bright lemon and garlic. So save this for later, OR if you’re one of my Australian or New Zealander listeners, enjoy RIGHT NOW!  And then, let me know how it is!

 

Serves 4

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large eggplant (about 850 grams)

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 cup tahini paste (120 ml)

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (120 ml)

  • 2 teaspoon salt (or to taste) (10 ml)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil (60 ml)

  • Dried mint or parsley for garnish

  • za'atar (spice blend) for garnish

 

STEPS

  1. Place the unpeeled eggplants (aubergines) directly on the stove-top over a medium heat. Leave it roasting and keep turning from side to side until the skin is blackened and pulp is soft and tender. This process takes about 15 minutes in total. Be aware that the eggplant can pop, so it might get messy.

  2. Trim the stem off from the eggplant and remove the seeds (if any). Put the eggplant in a sieve or colander and let it drain for 30 minutes. You can squeeze out the excess liquid if you’re in a rush.

  3. In a serving bowl, mix the tahini and lemon juice until the tahini is well blended. Add the garlic and salt and blend it in.

  4. In the strainer, mash the eggplant gently with a fork, then add it to the lemon/tahini mixture.  Mix all ingredients together until well combined. Taste to adjust salt and lemon.

  5. Spread the dip in serving plate, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with a pinch of crushed dried mint and a sprinkling of za'atar. Serve warm or cold with pita or taboun bread.

 

Recipe adapted from http://www.kitchenofpalestine.com/mutabbal and https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2013/sep/25/how-to-make-perfect-baba-ganoush.

 

Photograph from: http://bennydoro.com/chef/recipes/moutabal-roasted-eggplant-dip/ 

 

* Moutabel, or moutabal, or muttabal, or mutabbal - I’ve seen all of these, and if anyone can tell me a really good transliteration, I sure would appreciate it.

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