mesmerising makdous

Makdous. Magdous. Maqdous. Call it what you want. So long you eat it. This dish is based on the olden day methods of storing food for winter when little produce was available. Basically, it’s eggplant stuffed with capsicum and walnuts, cured in oil to produce the most divine tangy taste eggplant could ever give the human tongue. I’m very sorry I didn’t take a picture of one in a plate, but there are many on google images for you to look at. When I make it again, I’ll post a picture for your convenient check out (i.e. looking, not paying) ;)

I’ve seen many recipes. Tasted many more. But I just couldn’t go past my granny’s – she’s just made it so much easier to make this thing although many steps and impatient waiting are involved, it really is worth it in the end. Grandma’s recipe does this: pressing in jars, turning upside down, big trays, inconvenient and messy draining methods… Rest assured it gives any novice the thumbs up to try it and not regret it! :)

Yields: 12

Ingredients:

1kg small eggplants

1 large capsicum

1 cup walnuts

2 -3 cloves garlic

salt & olive oil

Method:

Begin by cutting the stalks off the eggplants.

Do not remove the green bud leaves that wrap the top of the eggplant.

Line a tefal pot with a cotton cloth (you need a cloth that can withstand very high temperatures).

Pop the eggplants in the pot and wrap in the cloth around them.

Add enough water to immerse them.

Add a large plate on top of the eggplants, enough to cover the entire pot.

Bring the water to a boil.

Add anything heavy on top (a weight, bowl of water, heavy marble mortar, a pot filled with water, etc). This places pressure on the eggplants so they can soften inside out!


Cook on high heat for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and take out an eggplant making sure not to completely rip it up.

Check if it’s soft enough to use (it should be really soft and a bit wrinkly, too :) )

If necessary, return to the pot and cook for a further 10 – 20 minutes.

Drain from the water and leave eggplants aside to cool.

In the meantime, prepare the stuffing.

Take one red capsicum and slice into chunks.

Place the chunks in a mini food processor with the garlic.

Process until the capsicum is finely diced (don’t go overboard – you don’t want it creamy).

Drain the excess water from the capsicum, you really want it as dry can be.

For best results, drain using a fine sieve, pressing down on the capsicum with a spoon.

Take handfuls of capsicum and squeeze them with your hands to release any excess juices.

Place in a bowl and repeat until all the capsicum is almost moist free.

Finely dice the walnuts either in the food processor or by hand.

Add to the capsicum and garlic. Add a good pinch of salt and mix.

Tip: the salt should be saltier than the what you’d normally eat.

Cover the mixture with cling wrap and leave aside for the garlic to infuse.

Remove the green leaves from the tops of the eggplants.

Prepare a small plate of salt for dipping. Beside it, line a sieve with a tea towel or any cotton material.

When the eggplants have cooled, cut a small slit along the centre (vertically).

Dip your finger in the salt and spread along the slit (inside and out).

Dip the top of the eggplant in the salt and place it in the lined sieve.

Repeat this for all the eggplants.

Fold the corners of the tea towel/cloth in to cover the eggplants. Place the sieve on top of a bowl.

Add a plate to act as a platform.

Fill a pot with water and place on top of the eggplants.

Here you’ve created pressure and a draining method to get all the water out of the eggplants.

So, Tip: Be generous when dipping in the salt because salt helps get it all out…

Leave aside for at least 3 hours. You can leave these overnight so long they stay away from direct sunlight and the fridge!

Remove the pot and check on your eggplants – now they should be ready to stuff.

To help you with the stuffing proess, it’s best to transfer the eggplants with the cloth into a plate.

Get the sieve ready by cleaning, drying and lining it with a dry, clean tea towel/cloth.

Find the slit but be careful not to rip it any bigger than what it is already.

Push through your index finger and rip any seeds/tissue (inner flesh) so as to make space for the stuffing.

Begin to stuff the eggplant – I’ll stress again to put in your best effort not to rip the slit.

As much as you stuff it, don’t get fooled, it’ll probably fit more. Use your finger to push the suffing out of the way (left and right) so as to be able to fit in more. It should reach just about the size it was originally!

Do this for all the eggplants.

Place the stuffed eggplants in the lined sieve and wrap them (like the first time).

Place a plate and pot filled with water on top and leave again for a few hours to drain any excess liquid.

Remove the eggplants after a few hours (can leave up to a day).

Fill a quarter of a jar with oil. Begin to add a couple of eggplants.

When the eggplants reach the top of the oil, add another quarter more oil and continue adding eggplants.

Note: The eggplants should squash up a bit on each other, you don’t want them swimming in oil).

Continue filling until it’s up to the rim (almost ;) )

Put in the pantry without closing the lid tightly. In fact, put the lid on the jar upside down.

Housewife note: the capsicum can react vigorously and cause the jar to overflow. Never seen it, don’t know if it’s true, but housewives will be housewives, so let’s just listen to them.

After a couple of days, you can close the lid tightly and leave it for at least a week in the cool, dark corner of the pantry.

The flavours will infuse and you won’t believe how incredible the eggplants will taste!

These are eaten for breakfast in Arabian countries. They are “mashed open” with pita bread and then eaten with the bread and a hot cuppa tea.

Use the oil to add an incredible tangy flavour to your other dishes when cooking.

For breakfast, lunch or tea, just

Devour!

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12 thoughts on “mesmerising makdous

  1. Had never heard of these, but they sound delicious. We grow our own aubergines, so always have plenty to use up, wil lbe giving this a go later in the summer. Thanks!

  2. These are amazing indeed! Don’t hesitate giving it a go… chica: If you remember to buzz back, let me know how you went, please! :D

    Angie, I must say, it isn’t for the lazy one, but it just really reminds me of the cricket and the ants :D Still it is a lot easier than doing it the traditional way where you press the eggplants in 4 – 8 L jars and turn them upside down on an angle in some humongous tray…..and and and… phew!

    • Sure, I guess you could do that, but I didn’t find it necessary when I made these with my grandma – or when I did it again myself. 20 minutes on high heat was the right amount of time, and leaving them out in the open helped them cool down quite nicely without overcooking :) Thank for commenting…

  3. my husband brought me some back from Saudi that his mother made and I fell in love with them. I finally found the small eggplants at a place called Jungle Jims in Cincinnati Ohio and today I started on them.I know my mouth is watering for them. thanks for putting it in English. yeaaaaaa Will let you know how they are.

  4. Pingback: Preserves- Makdous | More than food stories

  5. I used to buy maqdous when I was living in the UAE. Alas, we neither have them, nor baby eggplants here in Turkey :(( I miss them like crazy…

  6. —–IMPORTANT PLEASE READ IF YOU INTEND TO FOLLOW THE RECIPE——

    I finally tried the recipe but using bigger eggplants since we don’t have them available here in Turkey. Eggplants I used were twice-three times the size of the ones normally used for makdous. Here are my observations that might help other people who try to make makdous at home.

    1) Bigger eggplants bring in more water. Eggplants are 93-94% water. This necessitates real “generous” salting. Remember, this is a fermented food. The good lactic acid bacteria can only take over if the environment is hostile against other organisms. Salt makes the environment hostile against microorganisms that cause spoilage. The eggplant part of makdous is high in water and can only be preserved if there is enough salt around. If you are not an experienced pickle maker, the amount of adequate amount of salt is hard to decide.

    2) Do not omit the draining under weights after filling in the walnut-pepper mixture. My eggplants after filiing the walnut-pepper mix was pretty dry. I thoroughly drained the eggplants first. I seperately drained the peppers. By adding salt to peppers I facilitated the drainage. I combined walnuts with peppers after that. Walnuts absorbed most of the water remained. Therefore there was not any water that could be drained by applying another draining step. However, this step is actually not only a draining step but also it serves removing extra air from makdous since you apply weights duing drainage. This step is the most critical step. Remember the good lactic acid bacteria? They are facultative anaerobes indicating that they can survive without oxygen but most other bacteria, yeasts, molds causing spoilage can not! Therefore omitting the last drainage step, my makdous were too loose and too much air remained within the stuffed eggplants.

    3) You might consider applying weight on the stuffed eggplants after placing them in the jar. Mine somehow raised to the surface after sometime and spoilage started at those swimming makdous easily. Since the jar was in a closet to keep it dark I haven’t realized the swimmers until day 5 when I checked them.

    RESULT: The swimmers on the top are obviously spoiled. I pressed the ones at the bottom with a spoon. They released a lot of gas which was smelly. My gut feeling says that they are spoiled as well.

    Making makdous is not as straight forward as most other prepared foods. If you lack the major ingredient -right sized eggplants- do not even try. I wasted a ton of great olive oil.

    • i hope you didn’t throw throw the oil! and your eggplants are probably fine. and the swimmers are fine too. i know coz it happened to me too the first time i tried to make some. let me explain: the gas? well it is fermenting and of course it is gassy, so that is normal. the smell! well, everything fermenting stinks, but only untill it is done. fermenting is a kind of spoiling but in a good way, preserving. the oil from it can be used in different things like: sour cream mixed with mint and salt and drizzled with the oil, cheese drizzled with this oil, salads etc. and finally the swimmers. i saw them turning white a bit. i just pushed them back because the olive oil will remove them, kill them. it was only day 5 so it wasn’t spoiled a lot. all you have to do is push them a bit more and i cover mine with two fingers of oil on the top. everything else that u said about not emptying the air when they are stuffed, is true. i made them without that step and i had floaters, but i just pushed them down from time to time. not all the makdous will rise. so eat it, it’s fine. and by the way, i am from Macedonia and we also don’t have baby eggplants but i went on the market and asked people to bring. they were actually throwing them coz they were small and they were asking me what i do with them since in my country “bigger is better”. so i think if you ask, maybe somebody will bring u.

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