Mutabal is a delicious Levantine eggplant and yogurt dip similar to baba ganoush but with a richer and creamier texture.
You can make it with smokey eggplants, and it's a wonderful recipe to enjoy as an appetizer part of a mezze platter with freshly baked pita bread.
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Mutabal - sometimes spelled moutabal - is a tasty middle eastern dip with a beautiful smoky flavor. The recipe is easy to make, with a few easy-to-find ingredients mixed in a blender until creamy.
The secret to making the best mutabal is how you cook the eggplant. For the most incredible smoky flavor, you've got to char the eggplant skin until it turns black and falls off the eggplant.
Don't worry; the burnt skin is taken off the eggplant before we blend it; it only adds that irresistible smokey flavor.
This is how the original Levantine recipe for roasted eggplant dip is made, and I promise you'll never go back if you try it.
The smokey taste combined with nutty tahini, tangy lemon, and milky yogurt is one of the best flavor combos ever.
Let's see how to make it!
Use globe eggplants (also known as American eggplants) or Italian eggplants. They are the large ones with dark purple, almost black, skin.
We recommend tahini made from 100% hulled sesame seeds, light in color, and with a fairly liquid consistency. We find the best tahini to be imported from Levantine countries.
Avoid dark, gritty, and pasty tahini.
You can use plain yogurt, Greek yogurt, or unsweetened non-dairy yogurt.
Freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Stick to fresh garlic and avoid garlic powder in mutabal.
Good quality extra virgin olive oil would be best, but if you can't get that, then opt for regular olive oil.
Try to find flat-leaf parsley, sometimes sold as Italian parsley. It's much more aromatic in flavor and delicate in texture than curly parsley, and it's what's used in Eastern Mediterranean and Levantine recipes.
Salt and pepper
Season with sea salt or kosher salt and black pepper.
Pine nuts are optional, sprinkled on top, but they do taste really good with mutabal. Please give them a light toast on a small pan for a few minutes until they turn golden brown.
You can also add pomegranate seeds and a pinch of your favorite spices to garnish on top - we recommend sumac or paprika.
1. Cook the eggplant
There are several ways of cooking the eggplant so that it gets tender inside and charred outside.
Charring the skin of the eggplant is important because that's how you infuse mutabal with that delicious smokey flavor.
Our favorite method is to cook one eggplant on a gas stove top so that it gets smoky and two eggplants in the air fryer or oven to speed things up.
Gas stove top or barbecue
Important: cooking on an open flame can be dangerous if you don't pay full attention. If you don't feel comfortable with this step, check out the oven-roasted method below. Your kitchen is going to get smokey, so open windows and ensure there's enough ventilation. Also, your stovetop will get messy as the juices from the eggplant will come out. But, Flavorwise, this method is unbeatable!
Wash and dry the eggplant. Pierce it with a fork several times, then roast it directly on the gas stove, touching the flame, until the flesh is tender and the skin is charred and starts to fall off.
Turn the eggplant often with tongues so that it cooks evenly on all sides.
Let it cool down for a few minutes, then peel off the charred skin.
You can give the eggplant a quick rinse to help you get the tiny bits off.
Note: you can achieve the same result on an outdoor barbecue or charcoal grill if you have one.
Wash and dry the eggplant. Cut it in half lengthwise, score the flesh with a knife, then put it cut side down on a baking sheet.
Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F or 200°C for 30 minutes or until tender, then turn the broiler/top grill function on and broil/grill until the skin starts to char - about 15 minutes.
Scoop out the flesh of the eggplant and discard the skin.
Note: this method may or may not give you the smokey flavor, depending on how charred the skin of your eggplants gets. For a truly authentic smokey flavor, we find it more effective to oven-roast two eggplants and combine them with one eggplant that we char on the gas stove top.
Wash and dry the eggplant, cut it in half lengthwise, and score its flesh with a knife.
Cook in the air fryer, cut side down, at 400°F or 200°C for about 20 minutes or until tender.
Note: this method won't give you a smokey flavor. Instead, you can add some liquid smoke or combine air fryer eggplants with one gas stove top eggplant.
2. Blend the ingredients
To a food processor, add the flesh of the roasted eggplants, chopped or pressed garlic, tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and black pepper.
Pulse a few times until creamy, then taste and adjust for salt and lemon juice.
Don't over-blend mutabal; some texture is nice.
Transfer it to a bowl or serving platter, spread it with a spoon, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, the optionally garnish with toasted pine nuts, chopped parsley, a pinch of sumac or paprika, or pomegranate seeds.
Note: you can toast the pine nuts in a small pan until they are golden brown.
As a starter or mezze with warm bread and vegetables:
- Pita bread (flour, water, yeast, sugar, olive oil, etc.)
- Naan bread (flour, instant dry yeast, parsley, olive oil, garlic, etc.)
- Roasted bell pepper (bell pepper, balsamic vinegar, garlic, olive oil, etc.)
- Shirazi salad (lime juice, tomato, parsley, bulgur, olive oil, scallions, etc.)
- Tahini salad (chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, etc.)
- Tabbouleh (bulgur, tomato, cucumber, parsley, mint, etc.)
As a side dish with a main:
- Falafel (chickpeas, chickpea flour, parsley, cumin, garlic, etc.)
- Lentil mujaddara (lentils, rice, caramelized onions, paprika, cinnamon, coriander, etc.)
- Spinach stew (onion, spinach, rice, vegetable broth, yogurt, cumin, etc.)
- Chickpea stew (chickpeas, sweet potato, canned tomatoes, parsley, cumin, garlic, etc.)
- Fattoush (pita bread, radish, cucumber, tomato, romaine lettuce, olive oil, etc.)
More dip ideas
- Eggplant dip (baba ghanoush) (eggplant, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, paprika, etc.)
- Hummus (chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, water, cumin, etc.)
- White bean dip (white beans, tahini, lemon, garlic, olive oil, parsley, paprika, etc.)
- Avocado spread (avocado, garlic, lemon, tahini, etc.)
- Tzatziki (cucumber, lemon, mint, garlic, olive oil, etc.)
The smokey flavor is everything in mutabal. Unfortunately, you can only get a delicious smokey flavor if you char the eggplant on a gas stove top or a barbecue.
If you can't or don't want to do that, the next best alternative is to use a few drops of liquid smoke that you can buy online.
The way we do it in our family is we char one eggplant on the gas stove to get that smoky flavor and the two other eggplants in the air-fryer so that the recipe is easier and quicker to put together.
One charred eggplant is enough to add plenty of smokiness.
Mutabal and baba ganoush are variations of the same dish, a roasted eggplant dip popular in Eastern Mediterranean and Levantine countries like Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria.
They are both made with smokey charred eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and fresh herbs.
The main difference is that Mutabal often - but not always - includes yogurt.
Make ahead: Mutabal is excellent because it keeps well for days.
Refrigerator: store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Take it out of the refrigerator at least 15 minutes before serving, as its best consumed at room temperature.
Freezer: you can freeze mutabal for up to 3 months. Thaw slowly in the refrigerator over several hours.
More eggplant recipes
- Roasted eggplant (eggplant, parsley, garlic, olive oil, etc.)
- Sautéed eggplant (tomatoes, eggplant, garlic, basil, olive oil, etc.)
- Eggplant curry (coconut milk, roasted eggplant, chickpeas, turmeric, curry, etc.)
- Stuffed eggplant (cherry tomatoes, pine nuts, pesto, eggplant, olive oil, basil, etc.)
For many more starter ideas, check out our starters category page.
Mutabal (Eggplant & Yogurt Dip)
- Food processor
- 3 medium eggplants about 3 pounds or 1.3 kilograms
- 1 clove garlic
- 5 tablespoons tahini
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons Greek yogurt sub plain or unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
- 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + more to drizzle
- 1 teaspoons salt or more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 handful flat-leaf parsley chopped
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts lightly toasted on a pan
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
- 1 pinch paprika
1. COOK THE EGGPLANT
- Option 1: Gas stove top or barbecue/grill (excellent smoky flavor)Wash and dry the eggplant. Pierce it with a fork several times, then roast it directly on the gas stove, touching the flame, until the flesh is tender and the skin is charred and starts to fall off.
- Turn it often with tongues so that it cooks evenly on all sides.
- Let it cool down for a few minutes, then peel off the charred skin.You can give the eggplant a quick rinse to help you get the tiny bits off.Note: you can achieve the same result on an outdoor barbecue or charcoal grill if you have one.
- Option 2: Oven (mild smoky flavor)Wash and dry the eggplants. Cut them in half lengthwise, score the flesh with a knife, then put them cut side down on a baking sheet.Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F or 200°C for 30 minutes or until tender, then turn the broiler/top grill function on and broil/grill until the skin starts to char - about 15 minutes.
- Scoop out the flesh of the eggplants and discard the skin.
- Option 3: Air fryer (no smoky flavor)Wash and dry the eggplants, cut them in half lengthwise, and score its flesh with a knife.Cook in the air fryer, cut side down, at 400°F or 200°C for about 20 minutes or until tender.
2. BLEND THE INGREDIENTS
- To a food processor, add the roasted flesh of 3 medium eggplants, 1 clove garlic (pressed), 5 tablespoons tahini, 4 tablespoons lemon juice, 4 tablespoons Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoons salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
- Pulse a few times until creamy, then taste and adjust for salt and lemon juice.Don't over-blend mutabal; some texture is nice.
- Transfer it to a bowl, spread it with a spoon, garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, chopped parsley, toasted pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, and a pinch of paprika.Serve with warm pita bread.
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