Baba Ghanoush Vs. Mutabal: What's The Difference?

When you want a cooling, smoky dip that hosts complex layers of flavor, you can't go wrong with either mutabal or baba ghanoush. According to Migrateful, baba ghanoush has a complicated origin. While the eggplant-based dip originates from the Middle East, scholars can't pinpoint an exact region where the dish comes from, especially because each country that claims the dish includes different spices and flavors particular to that region. 

While we might not agree where the dip comes from, most recipes use a basic set of core ingredients for baba ghanoush. According to The Minimalist Baker, the recipe calls for olive oil, tahini, salt, lemon juice, and garlic blended together with charred eggplant. Traditionally, the eggplant gets charred over a fire or a grill, but savvy home cooks have found that you can develop the perfect charred exterior by slicing the eggplant into rounds and broiling them in the oven. The charring gives the dish its signature smoky flavor, and some chefs spruce up the recipe by adding in different spices to fit their tastes. While baba ghanoush might be more well-known, anyone who has tried the delectable dip mutabal might wonder what differentiates both of these classic Middle Eastern spreads. The subtle differences might not jump out in a recipe, but make a world of difference when the dish hits your taste buds.

Two subtle, smoky eggplant dips

Both baba ghanoush and mutabal rely on puréed, charred eggplant to develop a smoky flavor, but mutabal pares down the flavors to the basics. Chefs like to embellish their baba ghanoush with extra spices and flavors like pomegranate molasses and herbs, while mutabal relies on a basic mix of charred eggplant, tahini, olive oil, and garlic mixed together (via Whisk Affair). According to The Elegant Economist, the key difference here is the presence of the nutty flavor of tahini in mutabal. While this bare-bones dip means you have less spice choices to work with, you don't lose any flavor. You can step up your mutabal with some diced onions and extra greek yogurt to boost the creaminess of the dip while drawing out even more flavor. 

When you want to go all out and serve up a dip with spice flourishes that can impress sophisticated palates, baba ghanoush doles out the flavor you need on your table spread. If you want a more modest dip that can still hold its own, make sure to add mutabal to your menu. Either way, both dips present a deep, smoky eggplant flavor that has survived for generations thanks to its incredible marriage of flavor.