Aubergine and Tomato Salad – Mtabal متبل

Mtabal is an aubergine dish originating from the Levant and popular throughout the Arab world. It is a quicker version of Baba Ghanouj, where the aubergine is roasted until smoky, peeled then blended into a paste with tahini thinned out with lemon. Mtabal on the other hand is chunkier, made by dicing the vegetable up rather than mashing it, and drizzling tahini and olive oil on top.
It is served as an appetizer or side dish, and is eaten as a dip with hot Arabic bread.

1 large aubergine (or 2 medium)
2 firm tomatoes, pulp removed (optional)
1-2 Chili peppers (optional)
1 large garlic clove, grated
Salt to taste
Lemon juice to taste
3 tablespoons tahini paste
Generous drizzle of olive oil
Handful finely chopped parsley

Roast the aubergine over an open flame until the skin begins to crisp. Alternatively slice thickly, brush with oil and place in a hot tray in the oven until golden on both sides. Leave to cool, then dice and place in a bowl. Grate one garlic clove over the cut up aubergine, add the lemon juice, a pinch of salt then mix and adjust to your taste. For some extra flavor you can add diced tomatoes (flesh only) and/or finely chopped chili peppers, but both are optional.

Drizzle with lots of tahini and olive oil. Make sure the latter is the raw unmixed sesame seed paste, not a ready made dip. Stir well before pouring in, so you don’t just take the oil which gathers at the top. Decorate the Mtabal with chopped parsley and serve (warm or cold) with hot fresh bread.