Monday, September 28, 2015

Mutabbal Batinjan: Arabic Eggplant & Tahini Dip

A classic Middle Eastern meze, Mutabbal Batinjan is a smokey creamy eggplant dip made with tahini and yogurt that's commonly mistaken for Baba Ghanouj, a lighter milder Levantine dish of cooked eggplant mixed with onions, tomatoes, pomegranate molasses, olive oil and various seasonings. The key to making a traditional Muttabal lies in the roasting of aubergine over a fire or hot grill for a deep smoky flavour. Once the skins are blackened, the sweet flesh is puréed with garlic, thick yogurt, olive oil and nutty tahini. Served on a decorative plate drizzled with olive, and garnished with bright red pomegranate seeds, a flurry of chopped fresh parsley and pinch of ground sumac, this healthy and delicious vegetarian meze-style spread is perfect served with fluffy warm pita.

Serves 4

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium-sized eggplant
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp Greek yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley 
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
salt and black pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp of hot paprika or ground sumac 
Sprig of fresh mint for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 400°F. Pierce the eggplant a few times with a fork or knife and place on a baking tray. Roast for about 30-40 minutes, until the skin appears almost burnt and the eggplant begins to collapse. Note that roasting the eggplant on a gas stove or hot barbecue will make it even smokier. Set it aside until it's cool enough to handle, then scoop out the flesh, discarding any extra seeds. Mash the garlic clove into a paste by sprinkling with some salt then scrape on a cutting board with a sharp knife. Add the garlic to a bowl with the eggplant, and mash all together with a potato masher, fork, or pestle. Then add in the tahini, yogurt, cumin and lemon juice and keep mashing until the mixture becomes smooth. Add the salt, pepper, paprika, half the parsley, and half the olive oil, and stir until the mixture is well-combined, adjusting the seasoning as necessary. Transfer the mutabbal onto a deep plate and top with pomegranate seeds, parsley, a little ground sumac, olive oil, and serve with warm pita bread.

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