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, 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.