Middle Eastern mezza is something I am truly obsessed with. There is a legend (I wouldn't be surprised if it's true) that there are 101 types of mezza in Lebanese cuisine. For someone who isn't that familiar with cooking it may look so difficult to make , for example, moutabbal at home. Well... not anymore as I keep saying. Your moutabbal will not only beat any of the restaurant's moutabbals, but it will earn your mother-in-law's heart :) (well, if she is Middle Eastern)
- 3 medium size eggplants (not thick, longer ones are better)
- 2-2.5 table spoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- tahini (you can find it in any Middle Eastern supermarket)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic (depends on your "garlicy" preference)
- pomegranate seeds
- olive oil
1) We need to burn our eggplants on an open fire (either gas stove or bbq). Some people prefer to bake it, but I am not a fan of "baked" moutabbal as it is way to plain for me in taste. The smokiness from the fire does the trick. From the photos below you will see how to place them on the cooker. After one side looks burnt, turn the eggplant and keep burning it. It is not going to take 5 minutes, so be patient.
2) After you see that eggplant is quite burnt, touch it carefully and if it's soft-remove it from the fire. Dip it in ice cold water and remove the burnt skin same like in my photos below. Make sure no pieces of burnt skin is left. Then start squashing it with either a fork or special metallic utensil for mashing potatoes. Please do NOT use blender as it is not hummus, the principal here is different. We do want to see and feel texture.
3) After you see it became smooth, add 2 table spoons of lemon juice, 3 table spoons of tahini, squeeze garlic and add some salt. Mix it well. Take a look- does it look like moutabbal (haha.. I know it sounds strange but this is one of the best ways to figure out whether you are on the right track). Let's say if your eggplants were bigger than the ones I used, you may need extra lemon juice and an extra spoon of tahini.
p4) Taste should be slightly lemony with a nice kick of garlic. Oh yummm...
So now you simply need to place it in the plate same as in the photo below, make space for olive oil and pomegranate. By the way, remember that we add olive oil right before the serving. Serve it chilled.