Our recipe this week takes us to Jordan, which is one of the largest host countries for refugees in the region. It’s a country and an area with a rich culinary background and incredible diversity. For our Family Meals last week we explored some of this and came across a delicious recipe for a charred eggplant spread called “moutebel”. While kind of similar to the more well known baba ghanoush, I actually prefer moutebel as it incorporates slightly thickened yogurt into the mix. From a flavor standpoint I think this addition gives it a slight tanginess and richness boost that I find really appealing. The addition of a little creamy fat component also helps to balance the intense smokiness the eggplant gets from roasting directly over an open flame. For these reasons I think it has all the things that make baba ghanoush great while being a little more widely appealing to those who aren’t huge fans of it.
The key to this spread is really making sure your eggplant is thoroughly roasted and charred. Fair warning, if you do it right it will be a bit messy. I like to char the eggplant directly over the gas flame on our stove to get that nice smoky flavor. It needs to also be cooked all the way through until nearly falling apart or your dip may come out bitter. You could start the eggplant on your stovetop and then put it in the oven to finish as an alternative and slightly cleaner way to cook it. It would also work well if charred on a grill outside. You could even bury it directly in the coals if using a charcoal grill! Don’t be shy about really hammering your eggplant!
1 Medium sized eggplant
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
½ Cup Greek or Strained Yogurt
3 Tablespoons Tahini
2 Tablespoon Parsley, Minced
2 Teaspoons Cumin
2 Teaspoons Smoked Paprika (optional)
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin
Salt to taste
1) Rinse eggplant. Place directly over a high flame on the stove. Turn occasionally with tongs until completed charred and a knife easily pierces to the middle. It will get a bit messy but make sure your eggplant is thoroughly cooked. Alternatively, place in a 450-500F oven and roasted until charred and falling apart.
2) Set aside to cool. Once cooled enough to handle peel the charred skin off and discard. Set the flesh aside.
3) Place the eggplant along with all the remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend thoroughly and season to taste with salt.
4) Serve with fresh pita bread, chips, or veggies for dipping. Also a great spread for a sandwich! Can be made in advance and will keep for several d