Mutabbal Recipe: Middle Eastern Eggplant Dip

Arabs love dips; be it Hummus, Labneh, Muhammara or Mutabbal. In the last decade, these delicious dishes have taken the world by storm and can now also be found in many restaurants and grocery stores in this country.

There are many varieties of Mutabbal (also spelled Moutabal or Mutabal), but eggplant (Mutabbal Batinjan) is the most widely known and popular. Original Middle Eastern eggplant dip has a unique characteristic: its smoky, pleasantly bitter taste.

This characteristic taste is best achieved when you make Mutabbal at home. I’ll show you how in my step-by-step recipe.

Middle Eastern Mutabal Recipe
Mutabbal

What is Mutabbal?

Technically speaking, Mutabbal is not just the name of a single dish. It is more of a generic term for a type of preparation. The basic concept of Mutabbal is to process a seasonal vegetable into a dip with tahini (sesame paste) and spices.

Depending on the type of vegetable, it is either boiled or grilled. If you are making eggplant paste, then the eggplant must be grilled or roasted in the oven. This creates the unique, smoky flavor. Other vegetables are naturally stronger in flavor. Beet is another popular variety of Mutabbal (also known as Pink Hummus). These can be roasted or boiled.

In addition to a single vegetable being the main ingredient in Mutabbal, tahini is another basic ingredient in this delicious dip. A lot of families also add yogurt, which makes the dip even creamier. Garlic and salt are also a must.

Because of its savory flavor, Mutabbal is popularly served for lunch or dinner.

Mutabbal vs. Baba Ganoush

There is a lot of confusion between mutabal and baba ganoush! In fact, chances are that you know mutabbal under the name baba ganoush. Many restaurants beyond the Middle East even sell mutabal under the name baba ganoush, because that’s a name people are familiar with.

However, mutabbal and baba ganoush are not the same. While their main ingredient is grilled eggplant, the other ingredients are different. We’re talking about two different dishes here.

  • Mutabal: Mutabal is a creamy dip made of grilled eggplant, tahini (sesame paste), yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and salt.
  • Baba Ganoush: Baba Ganoush is also made of grilled eggplant. It’s mixed with finely chopped tomato, walnuts, pomegranate syrup, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Some people also add other vegetables such as finely chopped peppers. In contrast to mutabal, baba ganoush has no tahini or yogurt!

In the Middle East, mutabbal is way more popular than baba ganoush. However, baba ganoush is a delicious alternative to mutabbal, especially if you’re looking for a vegan or nut-free alternative.

Ingredients for Mutabbal Batinjan

You only need a few simple ingredients to make the Middle Eastern eggplant dip.

Here are the ingredients for eggplant Mutabbal:

  • Eggplant: Medium-size eggplants are the best choice. They are less bitter than the large ones and are better for roasting.
  • Tahini: Tahini is a sesame paste that you’ll find in any Middle Eastern or Turkish grocery store.
  • Yogurt: Yogurt makes your Mutabal creamier and greatly improves the taste. Use whole-milk yogurt (also known as Greek or Turkish yogurt). However, you can leave it out or substitute it with a plant-based alternative to make vegan Mutabal.
  • Lemon: Freshly squeezed lemon juice yields the best results.
  • Garlic: Freshly pressed garlic cloves are a must. Don’t use garlic powder or paste here – it won’t taste good.
  • Salt
  • Olive oil (for garnish)

Note: You can find exact quantities (depending on serving size) in the recipe card at the end of this recipe.

Mutabbal Recipe (Step-by-Step)

1. Cut eggplants

Before you begin, preheat your oven to 250°C (475°F).

Score the eggplants with a kitchen knife. The cuts should be about 1 cm (half an inch) deep. They don’t have to look pretty. The important thing is that you cut the eggplant from all sides.

Important: Do not peel the eggplant or cut off the stalk!

Eggplants for moutabal

2. Roast eggplant

There are several ways to roast an eggplant.

The fastest method is on a gas stove. To do so, place the eggplant on the flame. Roast for 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally.

If you don’t have a gas stove, you can also roast the eggplant in the oven. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place baking paper on the sheet and put them on one of the top rails in the oven. Roast for about 45 minutes.

The following applies to both methods: the eggplants are ready when they are soft on the inside (you can easily pierce them with a knife). The eggplants become dark and wrinkled during the roasting process. Thin eggplants are better than large eggplants because they cook faster and are not as bitter.

By the way: if you have already lit your (charcoal) grill, you can also cook the eggplants on the grill.

Roast eggplant

3. Peel eggplant

Before you peel the eggplant, let them cool for at least 15 minutes. Once they have cooled, place them onto a cutting board.

At this point you´ll be able to tell whether you’ve done everything right during roasting. If the eggplants are cooked (completely roasted), the skin can easily be removed. If the eggplant is not done, it is very difficult to remove the skin.

First, cut off and remove the stalk. Using your hands or a paring knife, remove the skin of the eggplant. There is nothing wrong if small remnants of the skin remain.

Peel roasted eggplant

4. Dice eggplant

Place eggplant on a cutting board. Finely dice with a good kitchen knife. Then put the diced eggplant in a bowl.

By the way, the original Arabic Mutabbal is not prepared in a blender, but by hand. I strongly recommend you to finely chop the eggplant with a knife. The texture of the Moutabal is more coarse (there are small pieces of eggplant in the Mutabbal), which corresponds to the traditional recipe. If you prefer a very smooth consistency without chunks, you’ll have to use a blender.

Chop eggplant

5. Crush garlic

Peel one clove of garlic, cut off the ends. Crush the garlic clove and add it to the eggplant in the bowl.

Moutabal ingredients

6. Add tahini, yogurt, lemon and salt

Add sesame paste (tahini), salt, lemon juice (freshly pressed) and yogurt and mix all ingredients until you have a uniform creamy consistency.

Using yogurt is optional. It makes your Mutabbal creamier and gives it a less nutty taste. Be sure to use unsweetened natural yogurt (Greek or Turkish yogurt, otherwise your eggplant spread will be too watery).

Moutabal batinjan with tahini

7. Garnish and serve

Place the Mutabbal in a shallow dish or small plate. Traditionally, the eggplant dip is garnished with plenty of olive oil and sumac. Pomegranate seeds are also a tasty addition, as they complement the smoky flavor of the eggplant wonderfully.

Middle Eastern Mutabal Recipe

What goes well with Mutabbal?

Mutabbal is a savory dip that goes great with hearty dishes. Mutabbal tastes best with grilled meat, fish and vegetables. Of course, homemade pita bread cannot be forgotten.

Mutabbal can be combined with hummus and tabouleh on a colorful mezze plate.

Make Ahead & Storage

Mutabbal can be perfectly made ahead of time.

If you’d like to prepare a larger quantity to eat over several days, store Mutabbal in an airtight container without any garnishing (don’t add any oil or pomegranate seeds yet). Keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Any Questions or Feedback?

If you liked this recipe, I’d appreciate it if you could leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. In case you’ve any questions or feedback, please leave me a comment (down the page). I’m happy to help you make delicious Middle Eastern food at home.

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Middle Eastern Mutabal Recipe

Mutabbal (Arabic Eggplant Dip)

Kitty Ramasamy
Mutabbal is a century-old tradition from the Middle East. The most popular version is Mutabbal Batinjan, a savory eggplant spread with a pleasant smoky taste.
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Breakfast, Side Dish
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Servings 4 people
Calories 140 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 2 eggplants medium (2 eggplants: approx. 600 g = 1.3 lb)
  • 2 Tbsp yogurt unsweeteed, whole-milk
  • 2 Tbsp tahini sesame paste
  • 1 Tbsp lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Score the eggplants on all sides (about 1 cm / half an inch deep). Do not peel. Do not remove the stalk!
  • If preparing in the oven: preheat the oven to 250°C (475°F). Place eggplants on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roast in the oven on a top rack for 45 minutes.
  • If preparing on a gas stove: Do not peel. Do not remove the stalk! Place eggplants on the flame, roast for 4-5 minutes at a time, turning occasionally.
  • Remove the eggplants from the oven or gas stove. Set aside and cool for 15 minutes.
  • Place the eggplants on a cutting board. Remove the stalk. Thinly peel off the skin with your hands or a knife.
  • Finely chop the peeled eggplants with a kitchen knife. Place in a colander. Press with a spatula to drain any excess liquid. Discard the liquids, keep the flesh. Transfer into a mixing bowl.
  • Peel a clove of garlic, cut off the ends. Crush or press. Add to the eggplant.
  • Add tahini, freshly squeezed lemon and yogurt (unsweetened whole-milk yogurt) and mix all ingredients until a uniform smooth creamy consistency is achieved.
  • Transfer to a shallow bowl or plate and garnish with olive oil. You can also use pomegranate seeds or sumac for garnish.

Notes

  • The eggplants for mutabbal are traditionally chopped by hand. Unlike hummus, where chickpeas are blended in a food processor. 
  • Small to medium-size eggplants are the best choice. They are less bitter than the large ones and are better for roasting.

Nutrition

Calories: 140kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 3gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 17mgPotassium: 561mgFiber: 7gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 61IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 33mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is only a rough estimate and may vary depending on factors such as the cooking method, exact weight, type, and brand of ingredients used.

Keyword Mezze, Mutabbal
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Recipe Rating




6 Comments

  1. Johan Winters says:

    5 stars
    Dear Kitty,

    it’s such a wonderful recipe..! Yes, you’re right, should be authentic and traditional without mixing in other things!! After having spent 40 years in the Middle East I’ve learnt to appreciate your kitchen! 😉