I simply love Lebanese cuisine. It’s my favorite. Part of the charm is I get to enjoy it very rarely. Sure, there are shawerma shops on every corner but hardly any are authentic. So to have really good, really authentic Lebanese, we trek up to Dubai. As per tradition, we check in to our hotel and almost immediately have our next meal at our favorite Lebanese restaurant. Our order too, is always the same. Recently while we were there, we went to the restaurant again but this time, we were having dinner with an old family friend who insisted we widen the horizon, so to speak. He called for our usual plus a few new things. Moutabal (mu-ta-bal) was one of them. I stared at it quizzically as it was passed around because the main ingredient is eggplant. While I don’t intensely dislike eggplant, I’m not too fond of it either. I sneaked a little bit of it onto my pita bread from my sister’s plate. Instantly, I was sold. The flavor was so new and exciting that I noted it down to replicate it back home. It’s only been a few weeks since I’m back but oh, the craving!
Its so easy to make because we had all the ingredients at home. A couple of pulses on the blender and you’re done! You can roast the eggplant in the oven or on the flame directly. Don’t skip this because a large part of the flavor profile relies on this. Then, let it cool and peel of the skin and along with the rest of the ingredients! I suggest serving this with some falafel or chicken shawerma salad. It’s also divine just spread on a cracker.
Moutabal (Roasted Eggplant Dip)
Serves: 4 (as an appetizer)
Source: The Vanilla Bean Original
1 large eggplant
3 tbs Tahina paste (sesame seed paste – readily available in groceries)
1/4 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed from a large lemon – packaged will not work)
4 – 6 cloves of garlic (you can add up to 2 but I love garlic!), chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp olive oil, to garnish
A sprinkle of red chilli powder/paprika powder, to garnish
1. Over medium flame, using tongs, roast the eggplant till the skin turns dark. Leave it to cool. Peel off the skin once its cool and cut off the stem.
2. In the bowl of a blender, add garlic, whole eggplant, tahina paste and lemon juice. Pulse to combine. Mixture should resemble hummus (aka pasty).
3. Remove into serving bowl and garnish with olive oil and chili powder.