Mutabal is a Middle Eastern eggplant dip with a nice smoky flavor. While sometimes confused with baba ganoush, it has its own unique flavor and can be served with fresh pita bread as an appetizer or on a mezze platter for a tasty feast!
Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines offer so many delicious dips and spreads and eggplant is a fairly common ingredient when it comes to dips. Some popular recipes are baba ganoush, melitzanosalata and kashke bademjan (Persian eggplant dip) which are all easy to make and use wholesome ingredients. Another eggplant dip that we love is mutabal or moutabal, a delicious but less known dip made with smoky eggplant. Give it a try and you'll love it too!
Table Of Contents:
What is Mutabal?
Mutabal, also known as muttabal or moutabal is a Middle Eastern eggplant dip that's known for its smoky flavor. Just like our smoky eggplant salad, the eggplant in this recipe is charred on open flame which gives it a unique smoky aroma and flavor. It's then peeled and mixed with tahini and other ingredients to make a creamy dip, usually served with pita bread. The origin of mutabal seems to be Syria or Lebanon.
This eggplant dip is popular all around the Middle East as well as Armenia. It's not the same as baba ganoush, even though the ingredients are fairly comparable.
Mutabal vs. baba ganoush
While both dishes are made with roasted or charred eggplant, the components used to make these eggplant dip recipes are not exactly the same. Mutabal uses yogurt whereas baba ganoush doesn't.
There are variation of baba ganoush that use bell pepper, parsley, onion and tomatoes instead of tahini. However, mutabal always uses yogurt and tahini and has a creamier texture.
3 tips to choose the best eggplant
Choosing the right eggplant can be tricky. Follow my tips to learn what to look for when choosing an eggplant:
- The eggplant should be bright in color without any brown spots.
- It should feel firm and heavy for its size.
- Smaller eggplants have better taste and texture. Large ones are usually spongier and have more seeds.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Eggplant: As mentioned above, choose eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size, with bright colors. I usually go for Italian eggplants which are smaller than globe eggplants, therefore having fewer seeds.
- Tahini: I recommend buying tahini from Middle Eastern or Mediterranean shops since they have a bigger collection and more options. Make sure the tahini is smooth and creamy and not chunky.
- Yogurt: Use plain yogurt. It can be whole milk, low fat or nonfat. My recommendation is to use whole milk yogurt. You can also use my homemade yogurt recipe to make your own yogurt.
- Wash and dry the eggplant, then pierce it a few times with a fork. This is for the eggplant to cook more fully and evenly. Turn on the stove to medium high and place the eggplant on the gas range grate and let it char for 5 minutes. Flip and char for another 5 minutes. Repeat these steps until the eggplant is fully cooked and tender; this takes about 20 minutes for an average eggplant.
- Place the charred eggplants in a large bowl and immediately cover with a plastic wrap. Let the covered bowl sit for 20 to 30 minutes for the eggplants to sweat. This makes the peeling process easier.
- Once the eggplants are cool enough to handle, place them on a cutting board and gently remove the skin using wet hands. Alternatively, you can peel them under running cold water. Chop the eggplants finely and add them to a bowl.
- Add the yogurt, tahini, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and top with olive oil and chopped parsley.
You can top moutabal with walnuts and pomegranate seeds as they do in parts of Lebanon. The walnuts add a nice crunch to each bite while the pomegranate seeds balance the flavors.
If you're looking for a dairy-free mutabal recipe, use dairy-free yogurt instead of whole milk, just make sure that the yogurt is plain and is not flavored.
You can also char the eggplant on gas or charcoal grill, the procedure is the same as mentioned above and in the recipe card below. You can also roast the eggplant in the oven to make mutabal, however, the dip will lose some of its smoky flavor.
Mutabal is usually served with pita bread, pita chips or lavash as an appetizer. You can also serve it as part of a mezze platter with hummus, labneh, muhammara and marinated feta alongside vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, olives and marinated artichoke. Add falafels, kibbeh and dolma for a more filling platter.
Store mutabal in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Stir the eggplant dip a few times before serving it to give it a fresh look.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, however, it uses yogurt. For a dairy-free or vegan option, try dairy-free yogurt but make sure it's not flavored.
What I love about this smoky eggplant dip is that you can make it up to 2 days in advance. In fact, the flavors combine a lot better if the dip sits in the fridge for a few hours. Just make sure to stir the dip before serving it.
Sometimes it's tricky to peel charred eggplant. I recommend peeling under running water to get rid of any small black skins that remain on the flesh.
It's best to finely chop the eggplant using a sturdy knife to get that authentic texture. A blender can easily over process the eggplant, making the dip a lot runnier than what it needs to be.
Did you make this recipe? I'd love to hear about it! Please comment and leave a 5-star🌟 rating below. You can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or subscribe to our newsletter to get a free e-Cookbook!
Mutabal Recipe (Middle Eastern Eggplant Dip)
- 2 eggplants about 1 ½ pounds
- ¼ cup tahini
- ¼ cup yogurt
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 lemon juice of
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Wash and dry the eggplants. Using a fork, pierce them a few times. Turn on the gas stove to medium high and place the eggplant directly on the range (you can have 2 ranges on at the same time to make the process quicker). Char the eggplant for about 5 minutes on each side, flipping every 5 minutes for all parts to cook evenly. This would take about 20 minutes, depending on the size of the eggplant and your heat.
- Once the eggplants are fully cooked and tender, place them in a bowl and cover with a plastic wrap. Set the bowl aside for the eggplants to sweat, about 30 minutes, this would make the peeling process easier.
- When the eggplants are cool enough to handle, peel then using wet hands, or simply keep them under running water while peeling.
- Chop the eggplant finely and add it to a bowl with the tahini, yogurt, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Mix all the ingredients using a fork or a spoon.
- I recommend using Italian eggplants that are smaller in size since they have fewer seeds and also cook faster. Chinese eggplants won't work for this recipe since they don't have much flesh. Globe eggplants won't work either since they are too large to char on the gas range.
- Instead of the gas range, you can use charcoal or gas grill. It's also possible to roast the eggplant in the oven, however, it won't have the same smoky flavor that the open flame would give.
- You can use whole milk (preferred), low-fat or non-fat yogurt for this recipe. For a dairy-free option use dairy-free yogurt but make sure it's plain and not flavored.
- You can make this dip up to 2 days ahead of time if needed.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Stir the dip right before serving to give it a fresher look.
- Serve mutabal as part of a mezze platter with hummus, muhammara, labneh, kibbeh, marinated feta and dolma alongside vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, cucumber and marinated vegetables like artichokes and olives.