We love a good mezze spread, and no Arab-style feast is complete without baba ganoush. But what we know as the smoky eggplant dip made with tahini here in the United States is actually called mutabal in the Levant; originally, baba ghanouj (as it is spelled in the Arab world) is actually more of a chunky eggplant salad that exchanges tahini for tomato, bell pepper, and onion.
In the first episode of The 7x7 Spice-In, chef Reem Assil, founder of Reem's California in Oakland and San Francisco's Mission, is preparing both versions of the classic Middle Eastern dip, which she promises will impress our friends at dinner parties (you know, when we start hosting those again).
Until that time when we may again break bread with our friends and families, Assil recommends making either or both versions at home for a healthy, yummy snack. "I love them both and they are easy to make," she says.
Both are typically eaten with other dips, flatbread, and a "whole ensemble of crudites"—including cucumber spears and radishes—as part of a mezze, a smorgasbord of shared appetizer dishes.
While flatbread can be found at most grocers, Assil recommends baking homemade or store-bought pizza dough on a griddle or cast iron skillet. Of course, if you live in the Bay Area, you can also pick up a bag of freshly baked bread from Reem's.