The recipe we are sharing today is fun to make, and involves roasting a whole eggplant on the stove, directly on the flame, until it is charred, blistered, and blackened, resulting in an irresistibly smoky flavor and creamy texture. Combined with fresh lemon juice, raw garlic, chopped parsley, creamy tahini, and a few pinches of cumin and cayenne pepper, this tangy, smoky, garlicky dip makes a deliciously healthy snack and is the perfect dish to serve with some warm pita at your next party. Let us introduce you to the Levantine delicacy known as Moutabal.
Moutabal (Middle-Eastern Eggplant Dip) [Vegan]
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 medium eggplants, about 1 pound each
- 6 tablespoons tahini
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- juice of one lemon, plus more to taste if desired
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Pour the olive oil onto a clean baking sheet, and brush it evenly over the surface. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the olive oil, then set the pan aside.
- Prick the eggplants several times with a fork. On a gas stove, set the heat to medium-high, and place an eggplant directly on the burner. Cook until the skin on the underside is blackened with no purple visible, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, gently rotate the eggplant 90 degrees so another side is touching the flame. Repeat until the entire surface is blackened, then remove it from heat and place it on a heatproof cutting board to cool. Repeat for the other eggplant.
- When the eggplants have cooled enough to handle, trim off the stem and cut them in half lengthwise. Place them cut-side-down on the salted baking pan, and bake them until very, very soft to the touch, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let the eggplants cool on the pan to room temperature.
- When the eggplants are cool, remove and discard the skin, then place the flesh in a food processor, along with all the remaining ingredients. Pulse until combined, but still slightly chunky. Taste for salt and lemon, and adjust as needed. Serve with warm pita or cut vegetables, and enjoy!
For the eggplants, use the round globe variety commonly found in stores. Japanese eggplants are long and thin, with a slightly different texture, and are not the right choice for this recipe. If you do not have a gas stove, the eggplant can instead be placed under a broiler until blackened, then baked as usual according to the recipe. While this dip is best fresh, it can also be easily made ahead of time and refrigerated. Just bring it to room temperature before serving since the flavors are less intense when chilled.