Citizens, my last recipe was posted to help clear up the tremendous confusion in the West between what we think of as baba ghanouj and the variant with tahini called mutabbal. We usually get Mutabbal here, NOT the true Baba!
As noted on norecipes.com:
Mutabbal (متبل, sometimes transliterated M’tabbal) is a delicious Levantine condiment made with smoky roasted eggplant and creamy tahina with pungent garlic and the citrusy tang of lemon juice. It makes for a delightful dip for flatbreads and veggies, but it can also be used as a condiment for roasted meats, or in sandwiches.
Although many people call this dish Baba Ghanoush (بابا غنوج), Mutabbal is a distinct Levantine meze. Baba Ghanoush is more like a salad; with roasted eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, walnuts mixed with lots of olive oil. Mutabbal, on the other hand, is a condiment made with roasted eggplant, tahina(tahini), lemon juice and garlic.
In the Middle East, there is zero confusion between the two but here in the west, we always make the mistake of assuming mutabbal is baba, and it just isn’t. Only in Syrian restaurants in the West is the differentiation consistently clear.
Now the name for the true baba is a story in and of itself! It comes from the Arabic phrase “baba gannuj”, in which baba can mean father or daddy (or an endearment), and gannuj can mean coquettish or pampered.
The dish, the OED says, was named “perhaps with reference to its supposed invention by a member of a royal harem.” So the pampered daddy may have been a sultan.
Thus, the term baba ghanoush literally translates as “my father is spoiled like a child by my mother”, which is actually quite an inappropriate name. It is never to be uttered at a traditional Arabic family gathering as the father would be insulted and the mother and children shamed. The more honorable name is badenjan mutabbal (eggplant dip).
It is not certain whether the word, bābā, refers to the eggplant (which is considered the big daddy of vegetables) or to a person indulged by this treat.
Needless to say, my version of Baba is truly authentic and I highly encourage you to enjoy this wonderful and healthy treat, rich in antioxidants! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo