20 May 2011

Bonus dish : Mouttabal or Baba Ghanoush - you tell me!

If you've read about the Char-grilled Vegetable Couscous I made earlier this week, you will know that the Aubergine I was sent in this week's supermarket order, was E-NOR-MOUS.  It only required half (and the smaller "half", at that) for the couscous, which left me with a huge great lump with no home to go to.

I was mentally half prepared for this eventuality, however, as I had already flagged up (just in my mind - although how I can remember these things, when I can't remember names or words I've known for donkey's years, is beyond me) the roasted aubergine dip (whose name is a matter of contention, as you'll see) for occasions such as this.

So, I char-grilled the remainder of the aubergine at the same time as doing the vegetables for the couscous, and put it in the fridge to await a proper recipe.

It seems as though finding a "proper" recipe for Baba Ghanoush is about as easy as finding a "proper" recipe for Cottage Pie.  Everybody agrees on three ingredients, which are aubergine, olive oil and lemon juice.  After that, it seems like it's open season on ingredients, which is all very confusing.  However, having read what felt like a whole bookload of recipes, I settled on one which seemed to show the most promise where flavour is concerned, without being terribly complicated.

However, having read Oliver Thring's treatise on the humble aubergine this morning, I am now wondering whether I made Baba Ghanoush, or its very similar cousin, Mouttabal!  It would seem as though the only difference between the two is down to the addition (or not) of Tahini paste.  Well, my recipe definitely included Tahini paste, from which I detect that I may very well have made Mouttabal.

Either way, it's really rather delicious.  I won't claim to have made the best ever and I am sure that if I made it again, I'd change the quantities to those set out below, which I am convinced would result in a more balanced flavour - but it's definitely a "do again".

BABA GHANOUSH or MOUTTABAL (Smoked aubergine dip)

Ingredients :

1 aubergine, sliced and char-grilled, then removed from its skin.
half a garlic clove, grated (add more, if you like more garlic)

2 tsp Tahini paste
extra virgin olive oil, as necessary
sea salt
lemon juice to taste.

Method :

1.  Take the aubergine flesh and pop it into a food processor capable of reducing it to a paste.

2.  Add the garlic, Tahini paste and as much olive oil as is necessary.  Blitz to a paste - you might want to add some more oil if it isn't loose enough, but remember you are adding lemon juice next, so don't overdo the oil at this stage.

3.  Add a pinch of sea salt and the juice of half a lemon and blitz again.

4.  Taste and add more salt, oil or lemon juice, if necessary.

5.  The end result should be a light, mousse-like consistency that can be used as a dip or spread onto flatbreads.



  1. Oddly, I have a rather large collection of Lebanese cookbooks! They're all coming out with this being Baba Ghanoush! Which I've never actually made!

    There must be some aubergine season where they're cheaper than the current £1 a fruit. Is it a fruit anyway?

  2. Well, if ever you find yourself with an extra aubergine, this is a brilliant thing to do with it. :) Do you know, I have no idea whether it's a fruit or not. I'm guessing it is. Wikipedia says it is, so it must be. LOL Apparently, it's a type of Nightshade, like the tomato and potato! That's something I didn't know, either.


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