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The smoky fragrance of this Aubergine Salad reminds the smell of Arabian cities during sunset.


Syrian Aubergine Salad

Salads or, rather, purees of baked or roasted aubergine are popular throughout the Middle East; they are called Melitzanosalata in Greece, Patlican Salatasi in Turkey, Baba Ghanoush in Lebanon and Moutabal in Syria. The lightly smoky fragrance of Moutabal always reminded Hektor Maille of the smell that hangs over the walls of Arabian cities during sunset, when the evening heat is imbued with a mixture of dust, vehicular gases and smells from endless little street-side grills.

Ingredients for 2 to 4 persons

2 or 3 bigger eggplants

3 pods garlic, pressed

1 onion, not too finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons sesame paste

½ teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground



  1. Preheat oven at 250 degrees. With a sharp-pointed knife make tiny slits in the aubergine and bake for 40 to 50 minutes (or to 60 minutes depending on the oven). After half the baking time, turn down the temperature to 180 degrees. The aubergine should be fully soft at the end of the baking time. Allow it to cool a bit.
  2. Cut the aubergine in half, length-wise, and scoop out the pulp. Put pulp into a sieve and press out as much water as possible with a spoon or fork.
  3. Add salt, garlic, chopped onion, lime juice and sesame paste to the aubergine and mix well. Then puree the mixture in a grinder very carefully, in a manner that gives the salad a definite structure. If the aubergine is pureed too much, it loses taste and its consistency becomes slimy.
    It is important that the garlic is pressed and the onion hacked before being added to the aubergine, otherwise they will not be sufficiently grainy – some have also observed that the garlic develops a rather bitter note when hacked in the mixer.

The aubergine salad has a slightly smoky flavour that can be heightened by the use of a smoked salt such as «Neige Fumée» from the salt pans of Le Umas instead of normal salt. Also smoked pepper (for instance, Poivre de Penja Fumé). Those who like it more hearty can drizzle some olive oil over the salad – with a few pomegranate seeds to lend it a fruity flavour.

With a piece of flatbread (as after the recipe from the bakery of Fénélon David) and some vegetable sticks this Moutabal is a heavenly starter.

More about the travel adventure of Secret Agent Hektor Maille:

Even if he is speechless while he journeys through Syria, Hektor Maille is not devoid of appetite. Here are three delicacies that the secret agent savours in the wonderful restaurants of Damascus – after sunset, naturally, because it is the holy time of Ramadan:

First Publication: 12-8-2010

Modifications: 26-1-2011, 20-6-2011, 15-11-2011, 18-12-2011