Smoky, silky, spicy… these words describe this unique roasted eggplant dip called Mutabal.
When it comes to dips, I should admit that Mutabal is my favorite appetizer. It’s creamy and easily scooped with bread, crackers, or vegetables and what sets it apart from other dips is an unexpected and pleasant smoky flavor.
In Summertime, when the eggplants grow in abundance in Armenia, fire-roasted eggplants are an almost weekly occurrence; we make salads, eggplant caviar, and of course mutabal.
Mutabal is another excellent dip that seamlessly integrated into my Armenian culture thanks to our strong family and friends from the Middle East and the Armenian diaspora of Lebanon and Jordan.
Similar to hummus, mutabal requires only a few ingredients; eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. As an option, our family also adds roasted bell pepper or Anaheim pepper.
Grocery and Pantry List Eggplant Dip
Step-by-step: How to Make Mutabal
Step 1: Roasting the vegetables
For this dish, you need large, whole eggplants with the skin and stems attached. Wash the eggplants, and pull back the leaves attached to the stem but keep the stem intact. Pierce the skin in a couple of places. This will help the steam to escape and prevent the eggplant from bursting.
Fire roasting the eggplants is the best way to prepare the eggplants. Using a gas grill, fire pit, or charcoal grill is always a good option during summer. If you don’t have an outdoor grill, roasting on a gas stove is also an option.
Option 1: If you have access to an outdoor grill, such as a gas grill, fire pit, or charcoal grill, that’s an excellent choice, especially during the summer months. If you don’t have outdoor grilling equipment, don’t worry; there are indoor alternatives.
Option 2: For stovetop roasting, preheat a cast iron or blue steel pan on your stovetop. Place the eggplants directly on the heated pan and roast them without any oil. Turn them to ensure even blistering and charring of the skin, which should take about 5 minutes per side. Afterward, transfer them to an oven for an additional 20-30 minutes of roasting.
Option 3: If you prefer oven roasting, start by broiling the eggplants until the skin begins to blister. Then reduce the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C) and continue roasting for 25-30 minutes, adjusting the timing based on the eggplants’ size.
To check for doneness, perform a skewer test by inserting a skewer into the eggplant. You should encounter no resistance, and the eggplant should feel soft and squishy. Once roasted, place the eggplants in a glass or metal bowl, covering them with plastic wrap.
After 15-20 minutes the eggplants will cool down, and the steam will help loosen up the skin. Peel the skin off and cut the ends off. Strain any liquid through a fine mesh and add to your eggplants.
Green Bell Pepper or hot pepper:
Green Bell Pepper or hot pepper:
Roast the bell pepper along with the eggplants to give the dip extra smokiness. If you like it to be a little spice use Anaheim, poblano, or jalapeños pepper.
Fire roast them the same way as you would the eggplants but pepper will take less time to cook. Use the same sweating technique by covering the pepper with plastic wrap. The skin will come off more easily. Cut the stem and scrap off the seeds.
Don’t wash the peppers under the water. It will wash off all the smokey flavor off of the peppers
Step 2: Making whipping tahini cream
Use good quality tahini. I always whip tahini when I make mutabal and hummus. It’s an extra step but I think it gives extra fluffiness and airiness to this dish.
Whipping tahini will produce extra creamy mutabal. In a small glass bowl or cup, pour in your tahini. Slowly add water, one tablespoon at a time, and vigorously stir everything with a teaspoon. At first, tahini will seize up, but eventually loosen up, double in volume and become a pale tan color.
Step 3: Lemon juice and garlic
Freshly squeezed lemon juice is a must. Squeeze 1-2 lemons to have handy.
Fresh garlic (not the powder, and not from the bottle) should be crushed or minced.
Step 4: Assembling the dip
In a food processor, pulse the eggplants and peppers until you achieve a slightly chunky consistency. The roasted eggplants naturally have a creamy and smooth texture, and this touch of chunkiness adds depth to the dip.
Transfer this mixture to a bowl and combine it with the whipped tahini, crushed garlic, freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.
Best Way to Serve the Mutabal Dip
Scoop the mutabal dip into the serving dish and smooth it out. With the spoon make an swirly indentation, creating a rim at the edges but also shallow grooves. Alternatively you can use a fork.
Drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice into the grooves and sprinkle with paprika, Aleppo, or Urfa pepper.
Enjoy this roasted eggplant dip as an appetizer, or small plate item, or simply a s spread.
More Recipes to Try From Cafe Osharak
If you decide to give this recipe a go, I’d be thrilled to get your feedback! Please share your thoughts on how it turned out and if you found it easy to follow. Feel free to reach out with any inquiries or offer any recommendations. And while you’re here, take a moment to explore more delightful recipes from Cafe Osharak that could pique your interest!
More Mediterranean and Middle East recipes.
Mutabal Eggplant Dip
- 2 Eggplants
- 1 green bell pepper Anaheim or jalapeños
- 2 Cloves fresh Garlic (not from jar or bottle)
- 1/2 cup Tahini
- ¼ cup Lemon Juice
- ½ tsp. Salt
- Olive Oil
- Preheat the grill to 400 F. Pierce the whole eggplants in several places and roast them for 25-30 minutes turning them several times. Make sure the thickest part of the eggplants are fully cooked.
- Cook the pepper for 10-15 minutes until fully charred. Make sure the thickest part of the pepper is fully cooked.
- Place the cooked eggplants and bell pepper in a bowl, cover with saran (or plastic) wrap and let it sweat.
- After eggplants cool down, peel the skin and cut off the stem. Set aside.
- Peel, de-seed the pepper and set aside.
- Whip the tahini with water, one tablespoon at a time. Set aside.
- In a food processor, pulse the eggplants and peppers until chunky consistency.
- Pour into a bowl and add the whipped tahini, crushed garlic and lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- Mix all together until combined.
- Adjust the seasoning.
- Serve on a plate, drizzled with olive oil and a squirt of lemon juice.