A while back, when I had shared with you the methods of making home made labneh balls, I promised to also one day (and the day has now come!) write up a post on magdous. Now what on earth is magdous?
Trust me, whenever I pronounce the word "magdous", people give me that famous inquisitive curious look, you know the one with an eyebrow that's lifted a bit higher then the other (something I don't know how to do, even after practice looking in front of the mirror). When I show them magdous, the reaction is even more comical (for me at least)..."ummm... what are those dodgy looking things of an unidentified colour of a rather oval shape swimming in those jars?... you really expect me to try that?".
Yes people, unfortunately, magdous for those who are not familiar with this speciality, does not score well when it comes to first impressions. Visually at least. But taste wise, all judgements dissapear and plates are emptied in minutes. My point is that you really have to give magdous a chance before you prematurely decide to not give it even second thoughts. So the choice is yours now, you can either continue reading this post, or surf to another page...
OK, so I guess you are still here and curious to find out a bit more. Let me make an introduction: magdous is a quite common food speciality found accross the Middle East. It hasn't of course become as famous as some other specialties such as hummus or falafels, and I doubt you'll easily find it on the menu of a Middle Eastern restaurant. Magdous are basically baby eggplants, that have been drained and then stuffed with a delicious mixture of garlic, hot pepper, diced red peppers and walnuts (at least, that is the recipe in my family). It can be consumed in the same way pickles or olives are, or if you just fancy on nibbling on a little something, it is delicious on it's own with pita bread and a cup of black tea.
Of course, in the Middle East, it is easy to buy ready made magdous, but I've always enjoyed making it myself- as my grandmother and mother always have. For this, you need to be armed with patience, because its one of those "leave overnight" and "wait for a few days before consumption" recipes- but I think the wait is really worth it!
What I love most about magdous is the silky texture the eggplant develops, the delicious olive oil fragrance it becomes infused with, but most of all, it's crunchy and spicy interiour. With a small glass cup of black tea and soft pita bread, each bite reminds me of my childhood when I used to go visit my grandma, sitting on her balcony in the early evenings, watching people on the streets go by against a backdrop of an orange-ish blue sky, while being surrounded with pots of jasmine flowers hanging around the balcony that so beautifully perfumed the setting and accompanied my grandma's tender voice and the magdous' silky texture. It's one of those foods that have never been considered as lavish or fancy in the Middle East, but sometimes the most basic simplest things are what satisfy a hungry stomach in unforgettable ways.
Olive oil (lots of it)
1 cup chopped walnuts
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup chopped red pepper
Chilli (quantity according to personal preference)
Cut off the stem of the eggplants, but keep the hat on. Boil in salted water for about 10 minutes. Remove, slice lengthwise, but not all the way through, it has to form a "pocket" that will hold in the garnish. Sprinkle insides with salt, close the eggplant "pockets" and layer eggplants gently in a large strainer, place a dish on top, and a bowl on the bottom. The eggplants will need to drain out their water overnight, so the water that will drip can fall into the bowl underneath.
The next day, in a bowl, mix the chopped walnuts, red pepper, garlic and chilli pepper. Peel the hat of the eggplants off with the sharp edge of a small knife. Stuff each eggplant with this mixture and close back gently. Be careful as to not rip the eggplants, they will have a very delicate texture at this point. Layer the stuffed eggplants in a clean and dry jar and cover with olive oil. Leave to rest for at least 3 days- ideally 1 week. When ready to be consumed, remove the magdous with a large spoon (not a fork, they will crumble!) and enjoy with pita bread! The jars do not need to be conserved in a fridge.