GUEST: Do you have baba ghanoush? You know, that smoked eggplant dip made with tahini and served with warmed Mediterranean flat-bread? Like hummus, but with aubergine? You know … baba ghanoush?
With so many Middle Eastern eateries, especially in the capital, and with the prevalence of international travel most people are aware of a dish called Baba Ghanoush. But it is a name that has become synonymous with a dish in the same way that Aspirin became synonymous with painkillers and sometimes it can be confusing. It doesn’t help either that in Egypt they use the term Baba Ghanoush instead of Moutabbal. Given a lot of people have visited Egypt, you can see where some of the confusion comes from!
A lot of “Lebanese” restaurants and eateries in London aren’t actually run by Lebanese and often serve a mixture of dishes from around the Mediterranean, including North African dishes. Generically, like Aspirin, they list the smoked aubergine purée as Baba Ghanoush on the menu and so the name sticks.
But, there is actually a big difference between the dishes. The principle difference is the tahini – the sesame purée, but there are others.
In Moutabbal, tahini is mixed with the smoked aubergine to create a paste-like dip served with warmed or crispy bread. In Baba Ghanoush, no tahini is used and the smoked aubergine is mixed with onions, tomatoes and other vegetables. This is actually closer to our Batinjan (al) Rahib dish, though we add a few extra ingredients in ours “like mama used to make.”
At Meejana we offer Moutabbal, though we might start adding Baba Ghanoush in brackets as we have lost count of the number of times we have been asked if we serve it. This is why you often overhear:
WAITER: Yes ma’am. We do have Baba Ghanoush. We just call it Moutabbal …
Do you like this post? Want more insight into vegan food? The check out this post on the Happy Happy Vegan Blog titled ”Does Tahini go Bad”. Remember to browse around the HHV blog for more insights into veganism and the many dilemmas you may face.