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Makdous (Pickled stuffed eggplant in olive oil) Print
Written by Ghinwa Alameen   
Thursday, 28 October 2010 23:31


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


  1. 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.
  2. Promptly place the eggplants in ice water so they won't continue to cook, then drain compeletly and let cool.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. Stuff eggplants with walnut-pepper mixture, about 1 tablespoon for each depending on how big they are.
  6. Arrange eggplants in a colander again, place a big plate on top and weigh them down. Leave for two days.
  7. Arrange eggplants in clean jars, flip upside down tilted to drain any extra juices for one day.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
Comments (18)
  • Maria
    Why are these receipes copy-right protected? Did anyone give you the right to claim these receipes as your own? You yourself pinched them from all the women - past and present - who for hundreds of years were taught how to cook them by their mothers. No one has the right to claim them as their own!
  • Ghinwa  - Re: Maria
    Interesting comment, Maria! Thank you for this question which is a common copyright misunderstanding. A copyright notice is a reminder that it is NOT okay to copy my work without mentioning the source and acquiring permission as stated in the "Terms and Conditions" page.

    Copyright is a long topic to discuss here, but let me give you a simple example. If you took a picture of Eiffel tower, don't you own its copyright although you do not own the tower itself? Of course, because it has your own vision and understanding of the object and it's your own creative work. The same applies to any piece of writing that one produces and hence has the right to protect.
  • Ghinwa  - Re: Maria (Continued...)
    The copyright is for the recipes and pictures, not for the titles. You and anyone else are welcome (and encouraged) to write your own recipes in your own website to spread the word about Syrian culture. You may find directions for these dishes elsewhere, but they are never the exact same, and they mostly lack accuracy in specifying ingredients, amounts, and directions. Every one of my recipes is tested for accuracy and end results several times before I post it.

    Feel free to read the introduction of the website for more details about the source and procedure of my recipes!
  • Deena  - fORGOT A main ingredient
    You overlooked a very important part, Garlic is a major part of this recipe
  • Ghinwa  - Re: garlic
    You're right, Deena. I know that some people add garlic to their makdous although we don't; and some even substitute walnut for almond. I'll add this ingredient to the recipe. Thanks :)
  • Viliam  - Taste

    I am from Slovakia, central Europe. Recently I bought a jar of Hamada´s stuffed eggplants. It was delicious. First time a tried it. But there is something I would like to ask. The taste was sour. And I liked it. Sour, but nicely balanced. Like it was fermented. And the skin was peeled of. I read that taste should not be sour and didnt notice peeling of the skin in any source. What do you think? I just finished a batch of few jars yesterday, so I cant wait to see how it turns out with taste.

    Thank You.
  • Ghinwa  - Re: Taste
    Hi Viliam, I took a look at a picture of the jar you were talking about. I do not think they are peeled of, but just the skin is lighter than usual. It depends how light or dark the eggplants are to start with and how thin their skin is. People do not peel eggplants when they pickle them otherwise they will not hold the stuffing because they get very soft after pickling.

    Now the taste should be sour, but it also differs from one person's recipe to the other and ever from one batch to the other. It depends on a lot of factors like the type of eggplants, how long you kept them outside after salting them, the type of red pepper, etc. If you thought your eggplants turned out to be too sour, next time keep them a shorter period outside. If you want them to be more sour, keep them longer outside (but be careful so they do not get rotten).

    Good luck on your batches :)
  • Viliam  - Taste
    Hi Ghinwa

    Thank you for responding a wishing me luck. Now, as time goes I can see, that pickled eggplants look like there is no skin on them. Just like a jar from local eastern food store I mentioned. Hope I can get as near as possibile to its taste. And maybe next time try to modify the filling a little.

    Thank You.

  • Rita Dennaoui  - Thank you
    Thank you for sharing. I am of Lebanese decent, and I miss the food my grandmother and mother made when I was young, and miss back home and the culture . I find myself flipping through old times receipes and make with my grown daughter and she shares with her American friends, and we love it.

    If I was a rich woman I would open a restruant and cook the food my mother made with a twist of a healthy verision but would never ulter the taste. After a while you grow tired of the same thing over and over .

  • Helena  - Hard to chew
    I am a big fan of makdouss and decided this year to do them myself.
    I followed the instructions and they looked excellent when done.
    However, I just tried eating one of them after 2 weeks and noticed that the eggplant skin was very hard to chew. I am very disappointed and don't understand what went wrong in the recipe.
    Do you have an idea what could be done to avoid this issue?
  • Ghinwa  - Hard makdous
    Hi Helena, Sorry to hear that your makdous turned out to be hard :( Most likely it needed to be boiled a little bit more. Types of egplants and their hardness vary from one country to another and sometimes from one farmer to the other. You need to follow your intiution.

    If it is still hard to the touch and does not give when you touch it, leave it a couple of minutes more. But careful not to overcook it, otherwise the makdous will turn out muchy.

    Your house temperature also plays a role, in making it sour. If it is cool, makdous will take longer to ferment. I know it can be frustrating, but I'm sure your second time around will be better.

    By the way, most of store-bought makdous I get in the US is very hard. I had to use my best knife to cut one brand!! So even the 'professionals' have a hard time in that respect :)
  • adam  - Garlic missing
    Dear Ghinwa, I know that you mentioned in one of your responses that garlic is optional but the historical fact is that the main igredient in this recipe other than the eggplant is the garlic. This recipe is not the real eggplant makdous if it does not include garlic; otherwise, it will not ferment correctly and will not develop the distinctive sour taste that it is famous for. Thank you
  • Adam  - Re:
    Adam, Thanks for your addition. I'm sure garlic lovers will appreciate it :) If
    However, if you are not a fan of garlic in makdous (like me), you can have it without. In my family, we never used garlic in makdous and it fermented well.
  • Terry
    Is there any place in Ga where I can buy this wonderful pickle , I tasted it for the first time today.I. Want more I want more!!!
  • Amal  - Does the color of eggplant matter?
    I just recently bought some eggplants to make magdoos and mine were a mix of both purple and black eggplants. I placed them all in a pot to cook in and the darker ones were mush after cooking! The purple ones were fine. Should they be cooked seperately according to color? Do you think that matters? I noticed that happened to me everytime? Do u recommend black over purple eggplants or it doesn't really matter? Thanx in advance! Xx
  • Ghinwa  - Re: purple or black eggplants
    Hi Amal, You are right. We only use purple baby eggplants for makdous pickling and deep-frying. It is firmer and will stand the pickling process. Use the black one only for stuffing (like yalanji, vegetarian stuffed eggplants).
  • Mary
    Does anyone ever add lemon?
  • Ghinwa  - Re: Lemon
    I have not seen anyone add lemon to makdous while making it; I guess it will rot, but heard that some people add 'citric acid ملح الليمون' to enhance the sourness (although I would not recommend it). I, however, add lemon sometimes to store-bought makdous when it is not as sour as I like it, and it turns out fine!
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Last Updated on Saturday, 20 November 2010 21:59
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