Mutabbal (or Mtabbal) is not only one of hundreds Levantine appetizers (mazze), it is the most popular one (beside hummus of course). The origin of the word Mutabbal is Arabic tabala, literally meaning ‘to add additional flavors and spices’. It is made of two main basic ingredients, eggplants and tahini. This classic combination always works. But what makes your mutabbal stands out is how you cook the eggplant!
There are few ways to cook eggplant for making mutabbal. Some would deep fry it, while others would bake it in the oven. But nothing could beat the unique taste coming from roasting it. Roasting eggplants on stove-top or barbeque grill brings out richness in eggplant and adds smoky flavor and aroma to the dish.
About picking the good eggplants for making mutabbal, I quote Christiane Nasser: “Large and pulpy Jericho eggplants (betinjan rihawi) are ideal or frying and grilling. They are quite sharp when grilled, and intensify the flavor of many salads that accompany meat dishes”.
- 1 large eggplant (about 850 grams)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoon tahini paste
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- Dried mint or parsley for garnish
Place the eggplant as is (without peeling) 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.
Peel the eggplant under running cold water in order to remove the skin easily. Trim the stem off from the eggplant and remove the seeds (if any). Put the eggplant in a pot. Mash it with a fork or a hammer. Add garlic, salt, tahini, lemon, and half cup of water. Mix all ingredients together until well combined. Taste to adjust salt and lemon.
Spread the dip in serving plate, drizzle with olive oil and garnish with a pinch of crushed dried mint. Serve warm or cold with pita or taboun bread.