This creamy and smokey mutabal is a classic middle eastern dip. With only 4 ingredients (and an optional fifth one!), it is quick to prepare and mostly hands-off as the eggplant roasts in the oven. Follow this easy method for homemade mutabal that's much tastier than store-bought!
Mutabal vs. Baba Ghanoush
Most people in the west actually know this dip as "baba ghanoush", which is incorrect in most parts of the Levant region, where the dip originates from. Due to its popularity, it travelled across the globe and picked up the wrong name.
Mutabal, however, as it is known across Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon, is a creamy dip made with tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and sometimes yogurt.
How to Get Smokey Eggplant Without a Gas Stove
For mutabal, as well as baba ghanoush, the base of the dip is smokey mashed eggplant. Traditionally, this is done by charring an eggplant over an open flame. You can do this using tongs, holding the eggplant over the flame and slowly rotating until the outside is very charred and the inside is super soft.
However, many of us do not own a gas stove. I have an induction stove at home, so I always struggle with getting a char on the outside of my eggplant. There are a few ways you can achieve a char and smokiness if you do not own a gas stove.
Use a Cast-Iron Skillet:
My solution has always been to heat a cast iron skillet until its very hot, then place the eggplant inside and slowly roast them, rotating until the skin has a dark char on all sides. I then continue with roasting in the oven until they are soft. The oven is usually quicker to soften the eggplant than the cast iron skillet.
Use a Blow Torch:
You can also char the outside skin of the eggplant using a blow torch. Carefully ensure the eggplant is on a non-flammable surface (like a foil lined baking sheet) and apply the blow torch all over the eggplant until it starts to char. You will need a powerful flame to do this quickly. Then continue with roasting in the oven.
Is a smokey flavour essential to make mutabal? No, it's not! It definitely enhances the flavour, but if you want to make your life simpler, just roast the eggplant. It is still very delicious without any smokiness.
How To Make This Recipe Step-by-Step
First, gather your ingredients. The star of the dish is eggplant. I typically use Globe eggplant or American eggplant, simply because it is widely available and is large; meaning you will have more flesh from just one eggplant.
However, Italian eggplant will work really well. I would not recommend using Chinese eggplant since it is narrow and won't yield much flesh.
With regards to the garlic, since we crush fresh garlic, always add just one small clove at first, then adjust if you need more. Fresh garlic is very pungent and a little goes a long way.
Yogurt is an optional ingredient, and you can omit it if you'd like to keep this mutabal completely vegan. However, I find it adds a lovely tartness and improves the texture of the dip, so I always add now.
Step 1: Char the eggplant. You can do this either on a gas stove, using tongs to slowly rotate the eggplant over an open flame until the skin is deeply charred.
If you don't have a gas stove, use a cast iron skillet. If you are not partial to a smokey flavour, you can skip this step all-together.
Step 2: Roast the eggplant in the oven until very soft. If you're doing this step without charring, make sure you make at least 3-4 holes or slits in each eggplant to help the steam escape.
Place them on a foil lined baking sheet and roast at 450F for at least 45 minutes and up to an hour. Depending on the eggplant, it may need more or less time to become extremely soft. Check the tenderness using a fork.
Step 3: Scoop out the eggplant flesh and drain any excess liquid. Do this by cutting each eggplant open and use a spoon to spoon out all the flesh, ensuring to scrape the skin well.
Place the eggplant over a sieve and press down to get rid of any excess liquids. Then, mash the eggplant. The best way to do this is to use a knife. You can either use a knife and fork and run the knife across all of the eggplant while it is in the bowl.
You can also place the flesh on a cutting board and use a knife to cut and mash it.
Step 4: Mix all of the ingredients together. Add the mashed eggplant to a bowl along with all the other ingredients.
I recommend mixing everything together and tasting it first, then adjust the lemon juice, salt, and garlic to your liking. Mutabal is a "taste and adjust" type of dip, since some love it more lemony, some more garlicky, etc.
Mix well using a fork, then serve and garnish with a generous drizzle of olive oil, toasted pine nuts, or pomegranate arils for colour. Enjoy with some fresh pita.
Storage and Serving Instructions
Mutabal is delicious the day after you make it. I often make it the night before for dinner parties to make my life easier. Store it in the fridge in an air tight container for up to a week.
I do not recommend freezing it, as it will become very soggy.
I always serve it with fresh pita bread or pita chips. It tastes much much better with bread than vegetables, trust me. But I suppose you can also serve it with crudités.
Other Middle Eastern Appetizers You Will Love
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Creamy & Smokey Mutabal with Tahini
- 2 eggplants large, approximately 400g each for a total of 800g
- 1 large garlic clove crushed
- 4 tablespoons tahini
- 4 tablespoons yogurt whole yogurt
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt more per preference
- ½ lemon juice of (more per preference)
- Start by preheating your oven to 450 F.
- Wash and dry your eggplant. If you have a gas stove, turn on to a medium flame and use tongs to char the eggplant, slowly rotating it until it turns black. Continue to do this for 10 to 15 minutes until the flesh is very soft.
- If you don't have a gas stove, you can char the skin of the eggplant on a hot cast iron skillet. Heat the skillet, then add the eggplant and char on all sides. This should take 10 minutes or so. Once charred, continue to roasting it.
- If you skip the charring step, make sure you the eggplant in several spots using a knife, creating slits all around the eggplant, about 4-5 times. This helps the steam to escape. Place the eggplant on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it is really soft and can be easily pierced with a fork.
- Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh using a spoon. Place in a sieve over a bowl and allow it to drain its liquid for a few minutes, pressing down with a spoon to help it along.
- Place the eggplant flesh on a cutting board and use a knife to cut and mash it in all directions, until it resembles a chunky puree. Place the eggplant in a bowl, then add the crushed garlic, tahini, yogurt, and salt. Mix well.
- Taste and adjust the salt, lemon juice and garlic to your liking.
- Serve topped with toasted pine nuts and lots of olive oil, alongside fresh pita bread.
- If you don't have a gas stove, you can char the eggplant using a cast iron skillet.
- You can also skip the charring step completely if you are not partial to a smokey flavour. It still works and will be delicious.
- Depending on your eggplant, it may take more or less time to completely soften in the oven.