One of the things I most look forward to when it comes to summer are the barbecues. I am a fan of fire-roasted anything and the smoky flavour this gives food. So, when I am craving smokiness in the winter, I pop some aubergines on my stove top and make one of my favourite dips, mutabbal.
The word mutabbal originates from the Arabic word “tabbala” which means to season, and that is basically what you do with this dish. While the most popular version of mutabbal is made with fire roasted aubergine, many other seasonal vegetables are used, such as pumpkin, butternut squash, or courgettes. While the vegetables can differ, the additions, or seasonings, are pretty much the same: tahini, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. Some people, including myself, like to add yogurt to our mutabbal because it gives it a velvety texture. Sometimes, when I am in the mood for some heat, I will add a little bit of chopped chilli.
While I strongly advise roasting the aubergines on an open flame, because that is going to give you the best smoky flavour and it is really quick, you can wrap the aubergines in foil and cook them in the oven. Once you’ve done that, it is really a matter of mixing in the rest of the ingredients and enjoying! I do advise that you mix the ingredients in while the aubergine is warm, because they mix in better and everything becomes so aromatic. I then like to let the dip sit for about 15-20 minutes so the flavours really meld together. The steps are very straightforward, but make sure to use the best quality ingredients possible to make your mutabbal irresistible. I like to mash the garlic in a mortar and pestle instead of using store-bought garlic paste, as fresh garlic tastes so much better in dips. The ratios I use are what I prefer, as I like my mutabbal on the tangy side, but for this dish it’s best you taste as you go and add the ingredients in the ratios you like.
Once my mutabbal is adjusted to my taste and rested, I love to scoop it up with some hot pita bread or some homemade pita chips and enjoy this velvety and tangy dip. It also goes great with grilled meat or chicken, or as part of a bigger mezze spread.
2 medium aubergines
1-2 tsp garlic paste (to taste)
1 tbsp yogurt
1-1.5 tbsp tahini paste (to taste)
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil, plus additional olive oil to drizzle
- Place your washed and dried aubergines on an open flame, making sure to turn regularly until the aubergines are soft. Alternatively, you can wrap them in some foil and bake them in the oven until soft.
- Place the cooked aubergines in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 3-5 minutes. This will help loosen the skin and make peeling easy.
- Open the aubergines and scoop out the insides into the bowl. Discard the skin.
- Mash the aubergines a bit and then add the rest of the ingredients. Mix together until fully incorporated and taste. Adjust until you are happy with the flavour and transfer into a serving dish.
- Drizzle generously with olive oil and enjoy with steaming hot pita bread.