[Cheadle, Greater Manchester] Janna

Our last meal out of the year and it was nice to go and try this new opening (in the premises of the shortlived Indian, Blue Mango). Lebanese is a favourite “foreign” food for us – both for restaurants and to cook at home – so it’s good to see a second place open up in the centre of Cheadle. It’s competition for the well established Yara (we’ve also been to their restaurants in Alderley and Altrincham).

As we sat down, a freebie bowl of olives was provided for us to nibble on while we looked at the menu. We ordered as we usually do in Middle Eastern restaurants – a number of items from the starters list, followed by a single main course, with everything to share between the two of us. We asked for everything to come together, or as it was ready. In the event, everything came together and came quickly.

There was a well made babaghanoush – a perfect consistency for scooping up with the pitta bread. Not as smoky as the best versions but pleasant enough. There were more olives provided, along with a few chunks of pickled turnip and red cabbage. This was a tad on the sparse side compared with the pickle offerings, at other places. Also from the selection of cold starters was a really nice fattoush – a chopped salad, with just the right amount of crunchy pitta croutons, dressed with lemon juice (more wouldn’t have gone astray) and olive oil. Perhaps the best thing we ate all evening, was the makmour, from the hot starters menu. It’s aubergine, long cooked with tomatoes, onions and peppers till it’s all very soft and almost sauce-like. If there’s one thing the Lebanese know how to cook, it’s aubergine. And this was one of the nicest aubergine dishes we’ve eaten in quite a while. It worked heaped onto the bread and it worked as a sauce for the kebab we’d ordered from the main courses section.

Now, when I say “kebab”, there was actually three of them. One skewer of chicken (perhaps a tad overcooked and not as moist as you’d like it). One skewer of lamb kofta (nice texture but a bit underseasoned). And one lamb shish (absolutely spot-on in my opinion). This came with a little bowl of chilli sauce which was actually disappointingly bland – Middle Eastern chilli sauce is usually quite fiery, in our experience.

So, a decent dinner near home. It was a cheapish night out – they are not licensed but have no problem with you bringing your own alcohol. There’s comfy seats and good service but be aware that, if you need the loo, it’s up a steep flight of stairs. I know the period between Christmas and New Year is a quiet time for any restaurant but it must have been disappointing for them that we were the only customers all the time we were there.

I really wish them every success but the big question is would I walk past Janna to get to Yaya just round the corner. And I’m sorry to say that, yes, I would.

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Interesting. I wonder if this is legal or not.

Absolutely legal. And quite common here, particularly in restaurants at the cheaper end of the market - an alcohol licence can significantly add to costs. Some may make a small “corkage charge” to pay for glasses, etc - maybe £1 a bottle of wine. Others make no charge.

Also quite common with restaurants where the owner’s interpretation of religious faith means they do not wish to handle alcohol but have no objection to customers doing so. Different interpretations of Islam means some restaurants do not permit alcohol on the premises.

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I saw makmour on a local menu here in Canada last week. I will try it next time. I had ordered the muttabal, which seemed to be another word for babaghanoush, and a fattoush topped with kofte.
I could upload a photo, but I don’t want to hijack your thread about Janna!

Restaurants here often have both moutabal and babaghanoush on the menu, often with identical descriptions.

Our preferred place, Yara, describes both as being baked aubergines with tahini, garlic and yoghurt. But their babaghanoush adds chopped tomato, onion, parsley and pomegranate sauce.

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Apparently, according to this website (https://www.meejana.co.uk/is-it-moutabbal-or-baba-ghanoush/), it’s “with tahini” (moutabbal) versus “without tahini” (baba ghanoush).

" But, there is actually a big difference between the dishes. The principle difference is the tahini – the sesame purée, but there are others.
In Moutabbal, tahini is mixed with the smoked aubergine to create a paste-like dip served with warmed or crispy bread. In Baba Ghanoush, no tahini is used and the smoked aubergine is mixed with onions, tomatoes and other vegetables."

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That’s weird. Growing up in an Arab family, we always used to make the one with tahini and no tomatoes and call it babba ganouj. Mutabal didn’t really register on our radar as a thing.

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It’s probably a common everyday dish, and can vary from family to family. Each family may have its own interpretation or version.

It’s the same in our family, where we have a variant on the Penang-Nyonya dish, Eggs Belanda, traditionally cooked with tamarind, shallots and onions. Our family version included toasted cashewnuts, which other Penangites would associate with a separate Penang-Nyonya dish called Sambal Goreng. But my family recipe dates back nearly 190 years! So, who’s right and who’s not?

I can’t recall ever seeing a baba ghaboush in the UK that didnt have tahini.

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Some babaghanoush, especially commercial stuff made for the certified Kosher market in Canada, is made with salad dressing or mayo as a binder instead of tahini. It has a slightly sweet taste compared to the tahini type.

https://www.chabad.org/recipes/recipe_cdo/aid/3533085/jewish/Baba-Ganoush.htm

Is tahini not kosher then?

Tahini can be Kosher, if it’s certified by whatever Kosher authority visits the plant. Most Tahini probably isn’t Kosher, most would probably be certified Halal. That has more to do with the market for Halal products. Kosher products tend to cost a lot more than conventional or Halal products.

I think this is tahini-free version is a version fairly popular in Israel, but the omission of tahini isnt for a Kosher reason. Tahini would be parve (neutral) so it could be served with a meat meal or a dairy meal without a problem.

This style of babaghanoush happens to be popular with people who keep Kosher in Toronto, and it seems more common at Jewish delis and restaurants (kosher or not). Any time I’ve ordered babaghanoush at a Lebanese resto, it has contained tahini.

Tahini is used as a dairy substitute in some Kosher foods (non dairy ice cream and nondairy cheesecake at one Kosher restaurant I visited), when served with the meat meal.

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Thanks for the info, prima

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It’s not just us. I’ve been in two Lebanese restaurants recently, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne. Both also called the pureed one with tahini ‘babba gannouj’ and gave the tomato salad a different name.

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But do they also have moutabal, or did they just offer baba ghanoush with tahini added? I remembered when I was living in Perth, we only have baba ghanoush at our Lebanese restaurants, never moutabal, and all the baba ghanoushes had tahini in them.

Halab, the Syrian restaurant here in Penang offers both moutabal and baba ghanoush, and their descriptions (I’d never really paid closed attention to them before this) seemed to be consistent with the one by Meejana’s above.

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Well the place I visited in Sydney (al aseel) agrees the baba gannouj is the tahini dish you call moutabal. They have an eggplant tomato dish similar to above which they call msakka.

The Melbourne place (mama manoush) also lists BG as the tahini dish. They offer the tomato salad dish as “eggplant salad”.

For comparison, I also looked up manoush edgeware Road in London, amusingly they call the tahini dish “moutabal baba gannouj”. The tomato salad dish is “bazenjan al rahib”

I guess the moral of the story is to check the description when ordering!

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Babaghanoush rarely contains tomato in Canada.

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