Eggplant & Tahini Dip (Mutabal)

This roasted eggplant dip is similar to baba ghanoush. In Jordan it is called mutabal, mutabbal or moutabbal. It was silky, creamy, and delicious.

This recipe was adapted from Milk Street Magazine, contributed by Courtney Hill. I modified the method and proportions and omitted the pomegranate seeds. We ate it with warm naan.

According to Milk Street, restaurants in Jordan often top the dip with a simple tomato-cucumber salad. We ate it without the additional topping but may try that next time. 🙂

Yield: Serves 4

For the Mutabal:

  • 1 large eggplant (about 1 to 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 T tahini
  • 2 T boiling water
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated, or pushed though a garlic press
  • 3/4 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • about 2 T fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T pomegranate seeds, optional
  • 1/2 T pomegranate molasses
  • warm flatbread, such as naan, for serving
  1. Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the middle position. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  3. Cut the eggplant in half and pierce the skin several times with the tip of a knife.
  4. Coat each half all over with 1/2 tablespoon of the oil.
  5. Set the eggplant cut side down on the prepared baking sheet and roast until collapsed, wrinkled and blistered all over, 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes.
  7. With the eggplant still on the baking sheet, trim off and discard the stem.
  8. Using a spoon, scoop the flesh from the skin onto a cutting board; discard the skins.
  9. Finely chop the eggplant but don’t break it down to a puree; it should retain some texture.
  10. In a medium bowl, stir together the tahini and boiling water.
  11. Add the roasted and chopped eggplant, garlic and lemon juice; stir until well combined. Mix in the parsley. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  12. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with pomegranate seeds, if using, pomegranate molasses, and garnish with parsley.
  13. Serve with warm flatbread. Top with tomato-cucumber salad, if desired. (recipe below)

For the Optional Tomato-Cucumber Salad:

Yield: about 3/4 cup

  • 1/2 medium ripe tomato, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 Persian cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeño chili, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  1. Combine ingredients while eggplant is roasting.

Ottolenghi’s Zucchini “Baba Ghanoush”

I knew that I had to make this as a special appetizer after seeing it on Chef Mimi’s blog. It sounded so interesting- a baba ghanoush without eggplant or tahini, but with zucchini, yogurt, and Roquefort cheese. The charred zucchini resembled bananas when they were peeled; cooking it this way gave it smokiness.

It may not be absolutely beautiful, but it was absolutely delicious. Ottolenghi describes its appearance as “rather like a volcanic eruption.” 🙂 It was a little bit time-consuming to prepare, but was worth every bit of time and effort.

This recipe was adapted from Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi. I used French whole milk plain yogurt instead of goat’s milk yogurt and used regular chile flakes instead of Urfa chile flakes. I also crumbled the cheese rather than grating it. I definitely plan to make it again- we loved it. Incredible.

Yield: Serves 6 as a starter or as part of a mezze selection

  • 5 large zucchini (about 2.75 pounds/1.2 kg)
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) plain whole milk yogurt
  • 2 T (15 g) coarsely crumbled Roquefort cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 T (15 g) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 T (20 g) pine nuts
  • pinch of chile flakes
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed in a garlic press
  • 1/2 tsp za’atar, to finish
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • warm naan, for serving
  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Place the zucchini on a baking sheet lined with foil and broil for about 45 minutes, turning once or twice during the cooking, until the skin crisps and browns nicely.
  3. Remove from the oven and, once cool enough to handle, peel off the zucchini skin, discard it, and set the flesh aside in a colander to drain. The zucchini can be served warm or at room temperature.
  4. Put the yogurt in a small saucepan with the Roquefort and egg. Heat very gently for about 3 minutes, stirring often. You want the yogurt to heat through but not quite reach the simmering point. Set aside and keep warm.
  5. Melt the butter in a small sauté pan with the pine nuts over low heat and cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes, until the nuts turn golden brown. Stir in the chile flakes and lemon juice and set aside.
  6. Put the zucchini in a bowl and add the garlic, a scant 1/2 tsp coarse salt, and a good grind of black pepper. Gently mash everything together with a fork and then spread the mixture out on a large serving platter.
  7. Spoon the warm yogurt sauce on top, followed by a drizzle of the warm chile butter and the pine nuts.
  8. Finish with a sprinkle of za’atar and serve at once with warm naan.

One Year Ago: Vegetarian Harira

Two Years Ago: Mushroom Spinach Soup with Middle Eastern Spices

Three Years Ago: Orecchiette with Carrot-Hazelnut Pesto

Four Years Ago: Saffron Pappardelle with Moroccan Spiced Shallot-Butter Sauce and  Clams Casino

Five Years Ago: Israeli Couscous with Spinach & Onions

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