I have always been vocal about the reason why I love to be a part of Valli’s Blogging Marathon. It is actually a great push for my sagging cooking moods. Her themes actually make me think a little and push me to try recipes that I have been wanting to make for a long time and get them onto the blog. For this month’s version #110, one of the themes was “Middle Eastern”. I love their food, however it is not something I cook that often as I would love to. This theme gave me the chance to try out something that I would love. I have been taking a back seat with trying new recipes, since my girls are not very receptive. However, with my SIL with us now, she is backing me full on to try new recipes and I am hoping that push will slowly get me into the cooking mojo.
Can I tell you that I made all the three dishes for this theme on the same day? Yes! I made it like a mixed platter, served it with some store bought khubbus and I wished I would have made more. So let me start with the dip first – Moutabbal or Mutabbel – however you want to call it. This chunky dip is a major part of a mezze, or the platter of starters that Arabs serve during their meals. It consists of charred eggplants, crushed in with some ingredients including some tahini sauce, and served chunky. There is always a confusion between this dish and its counterpart, Baba Ganoush. From what I know is that the latter is missing the tahini and has more vegetables going into it, making it more of a salad than dip. Please correct me if I am wrong.
This delicious dip can’t be assigned to any particular Middle Eastern country, though it has more reference to Lebanon and Syria. All I know that it is totally loved by all, so let’s keep in universally Arab. 😉 The eggplants are usually charred and used, but I baked it in the oven and then grilled it both sides for a slightly charred taste. This way, I didn’t have to babysit the eggplants as they cooked – call me lazy! =D Usually this dip is just cut through and served, however, I blitzed it in a blender, since I didn’t want my girls to see the bits and pieces and turn up their noses. Thankfully it helped and everything was cleaned up. I kept the recipe simple and straight forward without adding anything extra, and I can’t tell you how much flavorful it was! I just can’t believe that I tried the original version way after I made this version with sweet potatoes. Hehe… As far as I am concerned, for me, this dip comes a close second after the epic Hummus… Off to the recipe…
- 3 medium eggplants (around 600-700 gm)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 heaped tbsp tahini paste
- 2 heaped tbsp thick yogurt
- Salt to taste
- Juice from half a lime
- Olive oil as needed
- Sumac for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
- On a sheet pan, cut the eggplants into half and arrange face down. Drizzle olive oil and salt as needed.
- Bake for around 35-40 minutes till cooked. Grill for five minutes for a charred appearance.
- Allow to cool till you can handle. Scoop out the pulp into a blender.
- Add the remaining ingredients from garlic to lime juice and blitz till smooth.
- Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of sumac.
The moutabbel is usually not blended, instead it is chopped and mixed coarsely. My family likes it smooth, so I chose to blend.