14 Jan 2013

Mutabbal (or Baba Ghanoush)

Yesterday was the culminating round of The Breakfast Projekt Contest, that I had written about earlier. Over a long Sunday Brunch, my fellow judges and I ate our way through the Top 5 shortlisted breakfast recipes, and a lot of other food (think bruschettas with numerous toppings, finger food, dips, orange butter, chocolate-dipped Oreos etc.). The results will be out shortly & I'll post about them soon! Meanwhile, continuing on our round-the-world foodie trip, here's something from the Middle East...

I don't know what is it about aubergines. People either love them or hate them! I must admit I’m a recent convert. I never really liked the feel of cooked aubergines and I steered clear of them, most of the time. However, lately I have been experimenting with roasting/baking them and using different flavours to create some tasty dishes. I had posted an Italian-inspired aubergine recipe earlier (Italian Baked Aubergine); now here is a Middle Eastern dish that’s served in different forms across Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Israel and many other countries. It’s variously called as Baba Ghanoush or Mutabbal (I really like the sound of this word!). 

Mutabbal is traditionally served as a dip with pita bread and is usually a starter or side dish. In Turkey, a similar dish is served as a meze. The preparation is similar to the Indian baingan bharta, but the seasonings are different. For a Bengali variation (Begun Pora) of this recipe, see the comment below - from fellow writer and organiser of foodie trails, Finely Chopped a.k.a Kalyan. Take a look at his blog for some mouth-watering Bengali recipes (I'm trying to score an invitation!). 

This recipe serves 2 people, as a side dish.

You’ll need:
  • 1 large Aubergine
  • 1 clove of Garlic
  • 3-4 Basil leaves
  • 1 Green Chilli
  • 2tbsp Tahini (recipe follows)
  • Juice of ½ a Lemon
  • Salt & Sugar to taste
  • Olive Oil
  • Yogurt

How to:
  • Roast the aubergine on a medium flame or roast in a preheated oven (200C) for 20-30 minutes, till it is soft and seared. Cool completely.

  •  Transfer it to the food processor and blitz along with all the other ingredients, except yogurt and olive oil. Check the seasonings.
  • Transfer to a bowl and mix enough yogurt till you get a dipping consistency.
  • Drizzle a bit of olive oil and garnish with a sprig of basil.
  • Serve with pita bread or any flatbread of your choice.


You can make tahini in advance. It’s an easy-to-make preparation and will last in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

You’ll need:
  • 1 cup Sesame seeds (white, not black)
  • 1/3rd cup Olive oil (or vegetable oil)

How to:
  • Lightly toast the sesame seeds, either in a pan or in a preheated oven (180C). Toss them frequently and do not let them go brown. Cool completely.
  • Transfer to the food processor and blitz with olive oil. Tahini should have a thick, paste-like consistency, so add the oil bit by bit and check the texture as you blend.
  • Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


  1. it's amazing how baba ganoush is almost like a cousin of the Bengali Begun Pora except in the latter, mustard oil is used and onions and chilli

  2. This is making me salivate! And to think that it is also healthy is a big plus too!