We are all quite familiar with baba ghanoush, but its cousin mutabal is it richer and more flavorful cousin. Mutabals, like their cousin, originated in the region known as the Levant, and come in as many varieties and flavors as countries, tribes, geography and taste preferences. The Arab traders took this dish via Turkey to Eastern Europe in the East, and down to Northern Africa in the South. Here is the first of many mutabals, I hope never to have a boring baba ghanoush again!
This version from arid Sudan is beautifully smoked, nutty from the peanuts and a mild spice from the chilies. I used chunky peanut butter in my version and threw in a few whole roasted peanuts for texture, but you can use a smooth peanut butter if you prefer. Beautifully balanced flavors and a richness from the creamy peanut butter make this dish absolutely amazing. Serve it as a dip with fresh vegetable crudités, carrots, cucumbers, red and yellow bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, and other crunchy vegetables, or with pita bread or with crackers, pita chips or naan chips. However you serve it, it will disappear fast.
This is relatively new cookbook in my library. It is filled with contemporary Arab recipes, each one a delight, like this one. Each recipe has an introduction that precedes it explaining the origins of the dish and its history, something I really enjoy reading and a cuisine I have so much to learn about. It is a wonderful cookbook, one you will definitely see me cook from again.
For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.
1 lb large eggplants (1 0r 2)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 green chili, minced, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 lb tomatoes, finely diced
2 tablespoons peanut butter, either smooth or chunky
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, save a few for garnish
Salt, to taste
Pita bread or pita chips, or naan chips to serve
Poke holes in the eggplant with a skewer or a fork and roast in the oven at 375 F for 30-40 minutes, turning them once about half way through till very soft and the skin is charred. Remove and cool.
While the eggplants are roasting, Heat the oil in a wide deep pan and add the onions and green chiles. Sauté on medium heat till the onions are a light golden and crisped on the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. add the tomato paste and cook for a further minute stirring the paste into the onion mix.
Add the tomatoes and cook on medium heat till the tomatoes are broken down and you have a pasta sauce like consistency, about 10 minutes. Add the peanut butter and stir in cooking for 2-3 minutes, melting the peanut butter into the sauce. Set aside if the eggplants are not ready.
When the eggplants are cooled, remove the stems and skin and puree to a smooth texture with your hands. Add to the tomato mix with the salt and mix well and heat the mix through. Make sure you add the roasted eggplant juices, they are the most delicious part. Cook till the sauce has a thick chunky consistency, like a hummus. Add the roasted peanuts and mix in, keeping a few for garnish.
You can serve this dip hot, at room temperature or cold with crudités, pita or other breads, or pita or naan chips.