Cretan Eggplant

Cretan Eggplant Salad

I am a big lover of Aubergine dip! interesting to know that it pops up in the cuisines of so many countries and with so many differing names... Morocco (zaalouk), Lebanon (Baba ghanoush) etc. The Arabic term means "pampered papa" Heavens knows why? It is popular in the Levant (area covering Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Egypt) as well as in Armenia. A similar dish, but with mashed eggplants and without other vegetables, is known as mutabbal (literally 'spiced') in the Levant and in Armenia but is called baba ghanoush in Egypt. In Jordan , Syria and Lebanon, baba ghanoush is made of eggplant blended with finely diced onions, tomatoes, and other vegetables. The Egyptian version, known in the Levant as mutabbal, is made of roasted, peeled, and mashed eggplant, blended with tahini, garlic, salt, and lemon juice. Varieties of this dish are commonly known as patlican salatas (eggplant salad) in Turkey. It is typically made with mashed eggplants, while varieties with cut eggplants can be found in southern Turkey, especially in Antakya. In Israel, the traditional version called salat hatzilim is made with mashed grilled aubergines, tahina, olive oil, lemon, garlic and parsley. A variation made with mayonnaise instead of tahini, called salat hatzilim b'mayonnaise, is also widely available. Israelis traditionally use "wild" eggplants known as baladi. In the west many folk make something similar and call it aubergine caviar... I really wonder why as for me caviar has got nothing to do with aubergine... hhhhh... The essential ingredients in Armenian mutabal are the same: eggplant, tahini, garlic, lemon, and onion; and most Armenians also add cumin.


Type of Dish Appetiser


  • 1 kg (2.2 lbs) eggplant
  • 220 ml (1 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 2 cloves cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • to taste sea salt


  1. Prick the eggplants with a fork and cook them in the oven or even better, cook them over charcoal (just stick them on the BBQ) this will give a more smoky taste. When there ready they will be very soft and they will almost collapse.
  2. Peel them and place them in a pestle and mortar (or a food processor) along with the garlic, lemon juice and salt. Blend them to a puree, and then gradually add olive oil in a thin stream while continuously mixing, its similar to making mayonnaise.
  3. Place in your favourite serving bowl, drizzle 1 Tbsp of virgin oil on top and serve with pita bread.
  4. Serve with hot pita bread. There are many versions of this recipe. In the middle east its called moutabal or Babaganoush. In some countries they add a touch of cumin and sometimes parsley. In Syria they like to scatter the surface with pomegranate seeds. Many versions include a small amount of tahini paste, however the Cretan version is quite a simple affair. I actually prefer it with a bit of tahini as the result is a bit more creamy and voluptuous. Also most versions include a small amount of yogurt into the recipe too. One last tip, if you find the taste of raw garlic a bit strong for your palate you may try to lightly sauté the garlic in olive oil briefly before adding it in.

Further Information

Yield 6

Preparation Time is approxmiately 30 minutes.

Cooking Time is approxmiately 30 minutes.

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