I love Lebanese food. The flavours are so fresh and lively, and the meze style eating is varied and so sociable. London is awash with great Lebanese restaurants, particularly around the Edgware Rd area. They’re great places to bring vegetarian friends as there is plenty to satisfy everyone from the vegan to the carnivore.
The Maroush chain of restaurants in London have a deli on the Edgware Rd, where I used to treat myself to moutabal when I lived in nearby Kilburn, a smoky aubergine dip, not unlike baba ghanoush from Egypt. I frequently make dips like guacamole, hummus and pesto but infrequently moutabal as I didn’t have a gas cooker in my last flat, so I decided that now that I have, I should make it last weekend.
To make moutabal you need to grill some aubergines over a gas flame until the skin is burned and the flesh is hot. The aubergine will be very hot so, take care, and ensure you don’t burn yourself as I did. I have previously made this by roasting the whole aubergine in the oven, so do it this way if you don’t have gas. The results will be good but you won’t get the smoky flavour that you get using the gas flame. Take care not to use too much tahini as it can dominate the dish, I add 2 tbsp usually, but taste as you go, as sometimes it needs a bit more or less. Some recipes use garlic but traditional ones I’ve spied often don’t, so I made it without. I think I would add a clove next time as I love the taste of garlic. Anyone know if it should be in there or not?
Serve with toasted flatbread or pita bread.
1 large aubergine
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp lemon juice (or to taste)
Pomegranate seeds of half a pomegranate
Good extra virgin olive oil
Toast the aubergine over a gas flame using a tongs until the flesh is soft and the skin is burned.
Allow to cool a little and peel the skin off under a cold tap.
Mash the flesh and add the lemon and tahini to taste. Season with salt.
Serve with the pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of olive oil on top.