Aubergine or Mtabbal badinjane served with a cracker

Smokey and nutty Mtabbal Badinjan (or eggplant’s Mutabbal)

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Mtabbal Badinjan or aubergine/eggplant Mutabbal is hands down my favourite Levantine mezze.

How you prepare your eggplants will make all the difference in this famous Levantine mezze/starter.

Before we get on with the recipe, what looks like Mutabbal for some is considered Baba ghanouj for others. The two have many ingredients in common.

So the confusion is on a worldwide scale. However, if you go to a Syrian restaurant, they will be clear on which is which (on a general note), while some other Middle Eastern countries will call this Baba ghanouj (- the yogurt)

Roasting the eggplants in a oven would not give you an authentic smokey taste. Your best bet is charcoal or over an open flame of a gas knob  and you just rotate every 4 minutes until it’s done.

Now the seasoning of the mashed eggplants is also a matter of personal preference. Some like more tahini, some like more lemon..You just have to adjust it to your own taste.

Ingredients
Serves 4
Prep: 5 min – Cooking: 20-30 min

  • 1 medium-size eggplant/aubergine, roasted (char-grill or over a gas knob is the best option)
  • 1 tbsp of tahini
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of thick natural yogurt
  • 2 tbsps of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp of vinegar
  • 1 raw garlic clove , grated (or less, depending on the garlic used)
  • Salt to taste

For garnish

  • Good extra virgin olive oil
  • Paprika
  • Parsley, chopped
Preparation
Prick the eggplant in different places. Roast it until it looks withered and charred from outside. Place in a plastic bag for a couple of minutes then remove the skin.
Scoop the flesh and transfer it to a strainer. Press the eggplant against it and discard the liquid.
If you have used a type of eggplant which has a lot of seeds inside, discard them. Some are bitter.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mash the mix with a fork or chop them transfer to a pestle and mortar. Using a food processor for this is not my thing. I like a rough texture with tiny bits of eggplant.
Garnish it and dress it with the best extra virgin olive you can get hold of, Sprinkle some paprika and chopped parsley.
Serve chilled with pita bread or crackers…

Sma;ll quartered aubergine in Moroccan chermoula sauce

Moroccan salad of aubergines (eggplant) with chermoula

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Bdenjal (aubergine/eggplant) mchermel is a cold Moroccan vegetarian aubergine salad which will make you appreciate this underrated vegetable even more.

It is an easy and brilliant starter or side dish we serve on our Moroccan tables. There are several ways of presenting it: either whole aubergines slit in length or wedges, cubes or even roughly mashed. Each family may do it differently.

The aubergines are either boiled, fried, steamed or baked. Each one has its fans. Then once drained for a few hours and delicately squeezed to render all liquids if any, the vegetable is smoothered in a thick chermoula and finished with olive oil and lemon and vinegar. So technically you won’t need to cook it further

Bdenjal mchermel is best served chilled the next day as it would have had enough time to soak up its marinade.

Baked slices of aubergines marinated in chermoula

Bdenjal Mchermel salad or aubergines in chermoula (baked slices). Credit @Nada Kiffa

Ingredients

Serves 6
Prep: 15 min – Cooking: 25 min +/-

  • 3 aubergines, medium (choose the ones with less seeds)
  • 4 tbsp of fresh chermoula marinade  or enough to generously cover the aubergine


Chermoula mix

  • 1 cup of coriander, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of lemon juice or 1 tbsp of white vinegar
Sma;ll quartered aubergine in Moroccan chermoula sauce

Bdenjal Mchermel with whole aubergines in wedges.. Credit @Nada Kiffa

Preparation

  • Remove 3 or 4 strips of skin from top to bottom while leaving the rest of it in between each strip (on strip of skin on, one strip off). Toss the aubergine bits in olive oil and sprinkle salt all over.
  • Scatter the aubergines on a covered tray with foil or baking paper. Bake for 30 min
  • At 210 C or until you see the edges turning golden brown and the surface getting some dark brown patches.
  • Fold the foil on itself so the humidity tenderizes the aubergines. Set aside.
  • Mix the chermoula paste in a pestle and mortar or a blender
  • Delicately coat the aubergines with the paste.
  • Serve cold.
  • The aubergine salad keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days.
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Moroccan broad/fava beans with Olive Oil – Foul bezzeit

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It’s still time to get good and fresh fava beans over here (In Morocco) and we just got good ones from some fields around here; we’ve got some kilos from My sis’ friend this weekend and here is what we made out of a couple of kilos: a yummy foul bezzeit (foul = broad beans, zeit = olive oil)..

Foul bezzeit is a very simple cooked Moroccan entrée , yet, it depends on the freshness of the broad beans and the taste of olive oil used, which of course should be extra virgin unfiltered olive oil.

We love this cooked entrée so much in Fes that it’s served every single day by all families you can visit in one specific day! It’s a must-have on the table especially when in season. Thanks to the freezer, broad beans are available all year around and they find their ways to many other dishes.

 

When the broad beans are young and fresh, we tend to cook
them along with some of their outer skin as it tastes even better

Ingredients

Serves 4 to 6 pax
Preparation: 10 mins/Cooking time: 20 +10 mins

– 1 kg of fresh broad/fava beans (the freshed you can get, best picked the same day)
– 6 cloves of garlic, chopped

– 1 tbsp paprika (optional)

– 1 tsp of salt
– 1 good cup of coriander, chopped
– 1 preserved lemon
– 1 lemon
– 1 chili (optional)
– Water (enough to cover the beans in the pot)

Serve with

– 1 lemon, cut in wedges
– 1/2 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

These broad beans are slightly older (skin is tougher that the young ones)
which is why they look slighly darker in colour.

Preparation

 

Prepare the broad beans

Remove the seeds from the beans “holder”, without peeling the broad/fava beans from their shell (see photo). Make a small cut in each bean to help cooking properly throughout.

Before we cook the beans , we remove their “Hat” which looks like a nail
and give a slit from the top for better cooking

Boil/steam the broad beans

  • Place the broad beans in a pressure cooker with salt and lemon wedges  (The lemon is important because it prevents the beans from darkening). Cover with water and cook on medium heat for 20 min or until the beans are tender: squeeze one bean and see if it became “buttery”, that means it’s done.
  • You can either cook the broad beans using a pressure cooker or a heavy sauce pan or literally steam them (see picture below). The first both options are more common.
  • In the first stage of cooking, you should end up with fairly green broad beans. They should not darken because that is a sacrilege: dark foul bezzeit is not a good sign if you are serving this to a good Moroccan mother-in-law or any Moroccan who knows his food.
Steaming the broad beans is one of my aunty’s ways to tackle the first
stage of cooking fool bezzit.

Spice up the broad beans with chermoula

  • Reduce the water and add the spices, wedges of preserved lemon and chopped coriander.
  • Let simmer for another 10 min to allow the ingredients infuse their taste. Correct the seasoning.
I love foul bezzeit when inside is buttery and comes out easily.
It’s so comforting
  • Once the cooking is finished, add the olive oil and serve hot at at least at room temperature with some  dices of Moroccan preserved lemons if you have some..A good harissa would be nice to have on the side for this.

  • This cooked salad can be kept in the fridge for up to a week but it’s at its best in the first 3 days.
  • Foul bezzeit is better served the same day and even better once cooked.

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