This week I have been making Makbous which is pickled eggplant with garlic, chilies and walnuts. It takes two days to prepare and your fingers will smell like garlic for a week. Makdous are not for picky eaters! The flavour is intense and sharp. I have never tasted anything like it, but if you are like me, you will be HOOKED and everything else in the world will taste bland and boring after your first makdous. Ingredients:
18 baby eggplants
2 heads of garlic (thanks Moore Wollombi Garlic!)
1 cup walnuts
A handful of red chillies, I use about a quarter of a cup of fresh red chillies, leaving the seeds in
A handful of salt, I use Maldon salt flakes
A couple of litres of olive oil
Wash the eggplants and remove the stems & leaves without damaging the eggplants themselves
Place into a large pot of boiling water for 10 minutes, I use a plate on top to keep the eggplants from bobbing up out of the water
Take the eggplants out of the boiling water and cool for a couple of hours
Place a slice into the side of each eggplant, taking care not to go all th way through to the other side. You are trying to make a little pouch in each one
Use your finger to rub some sea salt into each pouch
Place in a colander in the fridge overnight. Put a weighted plate on top to help squeeze out excess juices.
Pulse the walnuts in a blender until broken into smallish bits. You do not want to process to a powder, you want some texture in your walnuts. Place in a bag and smash with your rolling pin if you find that easier.
Put walnuts in a bowl.
Put your garlic and chillies into the blender and process until it’s pretty smooth. Scrape the sides a few times, and try to break down the bigger chunks. It’s ok to have some texture in your paste too, but no nasty big chunks.
Season, and use your fingers to thoroughly mix the garlic, chillies and walnuts together
Place about a spoonful of mix into each eggplant pouch, using your fingers to get the paste neatly inside
Stack your stuffed eggplants into a sterilised jar, pack them firmly, but not too tightly. Try to keep the pouches neatly closed while you pack them so the garlic walnut paste doesn’t fall out in the jar
Pour enough olive oil over the makdous so they are covered. Use a chopstick to make sure there are no air bubbles, but be careful not to pierce the eggplants.
And that’s it! Your makdous will be ready in 5 days. Leave the jars in a cool place outside the fridge and watch them. If the olive oil settles and the eggplant is not covered all the way, add more olive oil.
After 5 days, you can open them up. Take a bite, enjoy the unique divine flavour. Smoosh a makdous onto fresh bread and gobble it up, wiping oil off your chin as you go. As long as the olive oil stays above the eggplants, you don't need to refrigerate, and they will last up to a year! The flavour and texture improves the longer you leave them. If you're brave enough to attempt making makbous, please comment and let me know what you think!