Most people have at least heard of baba ganoush, which is an Arabic dish made of eggplant with a few other vegetables inside of it. The term literally means “pampered papa” or “coy daddy”, which could be a reference to its origins as a dish for royalty. It’s an extremely popular dish all throughout the Levant area, so much so that it’s even created an offshoot known as “mutabbal”.
Zankou Chicken in Los Angeles is one of the only restaurants to do mutabbal right, but you’ll have no problem finding baba ganoush if you look hard enough.
Muttabal means “spiced” and it’s a dish that looks a lot like hummus. It even has a similar texture to the garbanzo bean paste.
Zankou serves the dish with a dollop of olive oil and a dash of paprika over the top. It’s perfect when you have enough warm pita to dip into, but it’s also an excellent complement to any plate you might order. Those who frequent the Los Angeles eatery tend to spread it over their pita as sauce for a sandwich wrap, or order it on the side with some rotisserie chicken.
The key difference between mutabbal and baba ganoush is that mutabbal doesn’t have any veggies in it aside from the egg plant. Both mutabbal and baba ganoush are usually flavored with garlic, mint, salt, parsley, lemon juice or ground cumin.
If you’re feeling adventurous, order up a side of mutabbal. It’s the perfect compliment for any Mediterranean dining experience.