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Q: What is babaganoush? And how is it different from mutabbal? Naomi Watts, 27, UK
A: ‘It is pure eggplant without tahini. It is made by first grilling the eggplant for 45 minutes, then peeling off the skin and chopping it down. Then you mix it up with some pumpkin seeds, lemon juice and a good part of olive oil, salt and pepper and that’s it. Mutabbal is the name given to the same dish in the Levant. It is known as a Middle Eastern dish, but I think, like all the good messy stuff, it comes from Lebanon and Syria. Babaganoush (my version, at least) is definitely more healthy than hummus, because I don’t add tahini to it, so there’s no sesame oil in it – it’s just pure vegetable.’
And the name? A little research finds it translates as ‘the Iman wept.’ Apparently no one knows if he wept because the dish tasted so good – or because the olive oil used to make it was so pricey.’