February 13, 2017

Smoke-roasted eggplants: spiced or pampered?

Hot potato - agree to disagree
Smoke-roasted eggplants: spiced or pampered?

Roasted eggplants or grilled aubergines? Same difference. But Moutabal and Baba Ghannouj are a total different story.

Our story begins with the king of vegetables, the eggplant, which technically is a fruit.

The black king

Eggplants or aubergines are very popular here in the Levant. We prepare many dishes using this vegetable; however, the most delicious flavor of aubergine is the smoky flavor of charred black king eggplants. 

Here's how the smoky flavor is achieved:

  • Score a large black king eggplant.
  • Place it on open flames.
  • Periodically turn it until it is cooked on all sides. 
  • Wrap the roasted eggplant in cling film or store it in a plastic bag for a few minutes.
  • Skin it and drain it.

Now we are ready to prepare some smoky dishes.

Many people I know wrap smoke-roasted eggplants in Lahmajun. They say it gives the spicy flatbread a smoky kick which makes it all the more delicious.

Each time I hear my family glorify the taste of smoke-roasted eggplants, I feel envious because I cannot taste it. Many of you might relate to this; eggplant allergy is to blame.

My late dad's special was smoke-roasted eggplants stuffed with lard. He had to make these when we prepared Mouneh.

Spiced or pampered?

While both Moutabal and Baba Ghannouj are made of smoke-roasted eggplants, and both are served as meza, they are completely different dishes.



Moutabal, which means spiced in Arabic, is a dip made of smoke-roasted eggplants, yogurt, tahini, garlic, and lemon processed together into a smooth paste.

Baba Ghannouj

Baba Ghannouj

Baba Ghannouj, which means Pampered dad in Arabic, is a salsa or an appetizer salad made of smoke-roasted eggplants, onions, chili peppers, lemon and parsley. Some people also add tomatoes to the mix.

Baba Ghannouj
Baba Ghannouj

Delicious nonetheless

The naming will never make any of these dishes less delicious or less desirable. They remain the kings on the Levantine meza table. 

Who said two kings can't rule the same table?

Enjoy it smoke: spiced AND pampered!