Fall is the season when many Syrian households are busy preparing makdous (magdoos) for the whole year. Piles of baby eggplants are stuffed with walnut and sun-dried red pepper then pickled in olive oil. A staple breakfast/supper/snack dish.
- 3 pounds baby eggplants
- 1 pounds sun-dried red pepper (see below)
- 4 oz walnut
- salt, preferably coarse
- Trim the stem of the eggplants and wash. Fill 2/3 of a big pot with water and let it boil. Weigh the eggplants down with a smaller heavy pot lid so they do not float and poach in boiling water for about 10 minutes to soften. The softening time will depend on the eggplants. In Syria, eggplants take more time to cook than in US. In general, they should only be a little soft to the touch when you press on them, but firm to hold their shape.
- Promptly place the eggplants in ice water so they won’t continue to cook, then drain compeletly and let cool.
- Salten the eggplants so they will sweat as much water as possible. Make a little dent lengthwise in each eggplant with your index finger. Then, drench each eggplant with salt putting some inside the dent too. Arrange them in a big colander, place a big plate on top and weigh them down with a big can. Place a bowl under the colander to collect any liquids. Leave for 2 days making sure to empty the bowl occasionally.
- To prepare the filling, mix together chopped walnuts, chopped red pepper and one teaspoon of salt. Red pepper is best picked in summer, cut in half and sun dried. You can use all sweet or chilly or a combination of both. If sun drying is not a option, you can broil pepper in the oven on low or use dried red pepper or paprika. Chop the red pepper and add to the mixture.
- Stuff eggplants with walnut-pepper mixture, about 1 tablespoon for each depending on how big they are.
- Arrange eggplants in a colander again, place a big plate on top and weigh them down. Leave for two days.
- Arrange eggplants in clean jars, flip upside down tilted to drain any extra juices for one day.
- Fill with olive oil to cover all and store in room temperature. It should be ready in three days. Makdous can keep for a year if properly made and covered with oil all the time.
- Recently, many people will only fill one jar with makdous and freeze the rest in small packs (after step 6). This way you can recycle the olive oil once the first jar is over.
- To prepare the frozen makdous, just put in a colander and allow to defrost for a couple of hours, then arrange in the same jar and add a little extra olive oil.
- Serve a couple of makdouses with some olive oil from the jar for breakfast or supper with warm flat bread. Just take a piece of bread and dig in. They also make tasty sandwiches.