Baba Ganoush— a Lebanese recipe for smokey creamy eggplant dip served as part of the Mezze (starter spread) is made with tahini, garlic and lemon juice. And yes, this dip is also called Mutabal or Moutabal! So, what is that eggplant dip without tahini called? read on to know...
Arabic breakfast platter cannot be complete without an array of dips. Considered a star dish of Middle Eastern breakfast spread, this Baba Ganoush recipe will make you fall in love with eggplants. Serve it with my homemade Pita or use it as a spread on toast. You will love it!
This article first appeared on But First Chai in 2016 and has recently been updated with new information and media for readers' benefit.
Baba Ganoush with Tahini
A few months ago, I came across an article on baba ganoush vs mutabal that stated that the difference between the two Middle Eastern eggplant dips is that one of them does not include Tahini and that is Baba Ganoush.
I was intrigued because all the Baba Ganoush I have ever tasted and the recipe in the Lebanese cookbook I have calls for Tahini.
I unpublished this post and took some time to get the facts right.
Baba Ganoush vs Batenjen El Raheb
My findings...Baba Ganoush and Mutabal or Mtabbal are the same but it is made slightly differently in each region. For example, I read Syrian Baba Ganoush recipe does not include Tahini but the Lebanese recipe do.
I understood from the hours of reading that there is no right or wrong in using Tahini in Baba Ganoush aka Mutabal. But it will be good to know that the difference should be drawn between Baba Ganoush (Mutabbal) and Batenjen El Raheb or Salatet raheb.
Batnenjen El Raheb is an eggplant salad (though can pass off as dip) that has all the ingredients of Baba Ganoush plus tomatoes but does not include tahini.
So, here I am proudly republishing this Lebanese Baba Ganoush recipe with Tahini. And let's be honest, I would love to have recipes using Tahini. Don't you agree?
You only need a few key ingredients to make this eggplant dip.
- eggplant: Use the globe (American) or Italian or purple eggplant variety for best results. Look for tender eggplants so they have fewer seeds.
- lemon or lime
- garlic cloves
- extra virgin olive oil
- garnish items - pomegranate, mint leaves or parsley leaves, red radish slices, toasted pine nuts, etc.
See the recipe card for details. Adjust the quantity of tahini and citrus as per your taste.
How to make it?
Making Baba Ganoush involves only one cooking process - smoking the eggplant on an open flame on the stovetop or baking in the oven. Though the oven version will lack in smokey flavour, you can get it done hands-free. I have tried both ways and the open flame is the winner but you will have to deal with the mess!
Grill or Bake
Roast the eggplants on open fame on the gas burner until charred all over. Takes about 15 to 20 minutes for a medium-sized eggplant.
For the oven, preheat the oven to 200C. You may wrap the eggplant in foil OR prick it all over with a fork. I think the foil method is better. Bake for 45 to 1 hour. It is done if you can pass a knife through without any effort.
Once charred or baked, try to remove most of the skin while still warm. Trim and discard the stem end. Drain and discard any juice from the eggplant. Chop them into smaller pieces.
Now, add the charred eggplant chunks, lemon juice, tahini, garlic and salt to a large bowl. Use a wooden spoon or a fork to mix and mash-up to a smooth creamy dip. For an easier method, you may add everything to a food processor and pulse it a few times to get a semi-smooth texture. Just deal with cleaning the processor!
Transfer to the serving dish- a rimmed plate will be a great option. At this point, you can cling wrap and chill the dip until before serving. Just before serving, swirl with the back of the spoon to form ridges, and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil, a few mint leaves and pomegranate arils.
What to serve with it? Serve Baba ganoush with pita fresh or toasted. I had it on my homemade sourdough bread, it was YUMMY! The same night, F had it with methi paratha for dinner. I thought it was weird until he made me taste it! Delicious!
Middle Eastern dips and salads like baba ghanoush and hummus are subject to taste, so please ensure to adjust the taste according to your palette. You can start adding lemon juice, tahini and salt little by little until you are pleased with the taste.
Baba Ganoush is Arabic for "Spoiled Dad" - which could mean "pampered father".
Yes, it does. But you can make it without tahini.
Bitterness in Baba Ganoush comes from eggplant. That is why it is important to discard in this baba ganoush recipe to discard the juice of the eggplant once charred or baked. Now, if the damage is already done and your dip is super bitter, then try adding salt and lemon or lime juice with some water. This may reduce the bitterness.
Baba Ganoush | Lebanese Aubergine Dip
- 1 medium eggplant globe or american variety
- 3 to 4 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 to 2 tablespoon tahini
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves
- 1 to 2 tablespoons water
- salt to taste
- Pomegranate arils
- fresh mint leaves
- extra virgin olive oil
- Wash the eggplant and roast it on the gas burner on a direct medium flame. Turn it occasionally to roast evenly for about 10 to 15 minutes. It might take more or less time depending on the eggplant size and flame. You should continue to roast until the skin gets crispy and the inside of the eggplant becomes soft. (To avoid mess, you may line with foil around the burner)
- Remove from the flame and carefully place it on the cutting board. Let it cool slightly until you can handle the heat. Remove most of the skin while still warm. If you do see any tiny bits of the skin, pick them up manually or use kitchen paper to wipe them off or if it is too much, wash them under running water.
- Cut and discard the stem and put the flesh in a big bowl. Use a fork or wooden spoon to mash it. Add lemon juice sooner to prevent the eggplant from discolouring. Add tahini, salt, garlic and water and mix until creamy. (You may add all the items into a food processor and pulse a few times for a semi-smooth texture)
- Transfer to a rimmed plate, cling wrap and chill before serving. Use the back of a spoon to make swirls in a circle, drizzle olive oil and garnish with pomegranate seeds and mint or parsley leaves.
- Serve with fresh pita or toasted pita chips. You can also use it as spread on toasts or side for any kababs. Store any leftover cling wrapped in the fridge for not more than 2 days.
Adapted from the cookbook by Mona Hamadeh.
Did you make this recipe? Let me know!