First Alphabet, First Musical Note and First Cuisine!
Everything started here, and I mean everything! This part of the world has been thriving for thousands of years. The food that the Levant introduced to the world is only a product of its people’s creativity, sophisticated culture and a love for life and the environment around them. Today it is reflected in poetry and music, it is my job however to shed some light on their extravagant cuisine as it is also a staple of the grandness of the Levantine region.
There will be nothing tastier that a dish that is thousands of years old and that we can still prepare with what we have today. I am talking about Mtabal; Roasted eggplant dip. It is believed that the Phoenicians were the first to discover the magic behind a roasted eggplant. What is even more magical in my opinion is that I can roast my eggplants on an open fire and indulge in the same experience that the Phoenicians did before me!
Some people mistakenly call Mtabal “Baba Ghanoush.” While both dishes are made from roasted eggplants, Baba Ghanoush is more of a salad than it is a dip. My Baba Ghanoush recipe is on this page if you would like to see what the difference is between the two. They are both considered Mezze dishes, or Maza as we call it, meaning appetizers. The dish I share with you today is simple, fresh, delicious and ancient!
4 large eggplants
3 tbs Olive Oil
½ tsp salt
4 tbs Tahini Sauce
Using a knife, poke a few holes in each eggplant to allow the water to seep through while roasting. Place on an open fire or any flame for that matter. Most grills have the gas tops but if yours doesn’t you can always grill the eggplants on high heat for 12 to 15 minutes on each side, flipping only once. The goal is to burn the skin, that is the only way to achieve the “roasted” flavor. Let the eggplants cool on the side, remove the skin delicately so you won’t waste the insides. Place in a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix using only a fork. Some like to puree the mix, but I like there to be a few chunks of the roasted eggplants. Garnish with olive oil and eat with pita bread or pita chips. Heavenly!