The three most recognized Middle Eastern side dishes (mezze) are: Hummus, Taboule and Mutabal. All of these sides are nutritious, healthy and easy to make. Unlike my husband, and because I’m used to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern kitchens, I can easily and happily forgo having any animal protein, in, or with, my meals. I don’t necessarily aim to eat vegetarian, but when I do, I’m satisfied and chuffed that I took one small step that day to possibly appeasing my mounting cholesterol and ‘borderline diabetes’ status!
Mutabal is nearly always confused with its’ souped-up eggplant based cousin ‘baba ghanoush’, which has no tahine in it and is made with the addition of: tomatoes, fresh herbs, sumac, and pomegranate molasses. I love the smoky flavor of the grilled eggplants and the notion that I’m eating something that tastes great and is healthy. Mutabal is one of those rare dishes that’s ideal to make if you’re on a vegan based, low-fat diet, because you can get away with not adding any yogurt or dressing it up with extra virgin olive oil, and still have something that has a lot of flavor. Making mutabal is also a good health decision. The grilled eggplants are a good source of fiber, tahine is an amazing source of energy-busting protein, the lemon juice adds heart-healthy vitamin C, the fresh garlic is historically known as a cure-all, and may help lower cholesterol, the yogurt acts as a gut friendly probiotic, and even the dried mint has healing properties! I’m just listing some of the benefits of this simple dish, so give it a try and if you like it, make baba ghanoush next time.
Level of Difficulty: Easy
2 large eggplants
2 Tablespoons yogurt
2 Tablespoons tahine
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves pressed garlic
Salt and pepper
Pinch of dried mint
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
Pierce the eggplants with a knife in a couple of places. If you have an outside grill, heat the grill on high and leave the eggplants to char with the cover down, flipping the eggplants occasionally so that all sides are charred. It takes around 20-30 minutes, or place on an open flame on the stove top (it will get messy, you can put some foil around the burner you’re going to use) and rotate till all sides are charred. Put the charred eggplants in a glass bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap to create some steam. Gently pry aside the eggplant and scoop out the flesh with a tablespoon and set aside. In a mini food processor chop the garlic (if not already minced/pressed) with the lemon and seasoning. Add the eggplants and process briefly (doesn’t have to be super smooth). Put the mashed eggplants in your serving dish and add the yogurt, tahine and dried mint. Mix everything with a fork and check the seasoning. Drizzle with some good extra virgin olive oil and decorate with a dash of sumac if you have some.