Simple Stuffed Makdous Recipe (cured eggplant)

4.96 from 24 votes
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This traditional Makdous recipe is for olive-oil cured vegan stuffed eggplant with a red pepper, chilli, walnut and garlic filling – Perfect for breakfast or a side dish alongside other mezze

Growing up in Lebanon, makdous was a staple in our pantry – delicious olive oil-cured vegan stuffed baby eggplant (i.e. pickled eggplant) with a simple filling of pepper, chilli, walnut and garlic. While this dish is popular in Levantine and Middle Eastern kitchens, it’s not something I’ve seen a lot of at all in the UK. However, next time you’re looking for a vegan stuffed eggplant recipe, then you might want to give this one a go!

Stuffed Makdous - cured eggplant

This makdous recipe uses baby eggplant, perfect for fitting in a large jar and curing in a pickling liquid of salt and olive oil. From baked eggplant to grilled eggplant, I’ve tried this ingredient in many forms, but this particular recipe is unique, comforting, and reminds me of home.

Baby eggplants aubergines

While it is traditionally prepared in time for winter, so then you have enough pickled aubergines to last you through the winter months, this is a delicious recipe that can be made at any time of the year that baby aubergine is available. Once appropriately stored in olive oil, these makdous have a shelf life of up to a year!

Stuffed eggplants aubergines

Plus, the recipe is only made up of a few steps;

  • Cook the eggplant
  • Press the eggplant
  • Stuff the eggplant
  • Combine in a jar with pickling liquid
  • Leave to marinate, and voila

The pickled aubergine/eggplant can then be eaten as part of breakfast, dinner, a snack and/or made into a wonderful eggplant side dish to a variety of meals. I also love simply having a couple in a wrap or sandwich.

Stuffed Makdous - cured eggplant

The Makdous How-To

What’s needed

Eggplants and salt

  • baby eggplants – the smaller, the better
  • red peppers and chillis, walnuts and garlic – to make the stuffing
  • olive oil, salt – for preserving and pickling

Red peppers walnuts garlic

The Steps

Start by cooking the eggplants. Boil enough water in a large saucepan and then add the eggplants. Boil for 5-10 minutes until the eggplants are softened.

Boiling eggplants

Once they have softened, turn off the heat and let them rest in the water for 10-15 minutes. Then drain them.

Cut the tops of the eggplants. Then carefully slice half-way through, lengthwise – like a book.

Rub some salt on the inside of each eggplant then arrange them on a flat surface, not touching each other and press them with a heavy object. You could use a big pan lid or the bottom of a flat dish to place on top of them, then add another heavy object on top. (see video)

Pickled Stuffed Eggplants Makdous Steps

Alternatively, you could arrange them on top of a kitchen towel, within a colander and press with a heavy object.

With the combination of pressing and salt, this should help remove all the excess water from the eggplant. Keep them pressed for a few hours or even overnight to get as much of the water out as possible. The key is to keep them in a cool area, and this process can take up to 24 hours, do be patient and check them after every 5-6 hours.

Note- If you don’t press all the water out of the eggplants then they can be ‘sour’ tasting, which isn’t what you want. 

Flattened eggplants

When you are ready to proceed, first make the stuffing. Slice the peppers and remove all seeds. Then either finely chop them or blitz them in a food processor/blender for a bit.

Next, strain the liquid from the crushed peppers. You can put them in a sieve and press out all the excess liquid.

Note: the drained pepper liquid can be used in making tomato sauces or dips or pasta sauces. 

Mash or grind the garlic cloves and roughly chop the walnuts. If you prefer, you can grind the walnuts into even smaller pieces.

Mix the peppers, nuts and garlic together.

Stuff the eggplant shells with about 1 tBsp of the pepper walnut mixture. Depending on the size of the eggplants, adjust the amount.

For the next step, use a sterilised clean glass jar. To sterilise the jar, simply wash it with hot water, then put it in the oven (no rubber parts) for 10 minutes at 160ºC. Or after washing, pour boiling hot water over the jar (just make sure it’s heat-safe!)

Stuffed eggplants and jar

Arrange the stuffed eggplants in the jar. Stack them carefully so that the stuffing doesn’t fall out.

Stuffed eggplants stacked in jar

Sprinkle liberally with salt on top then fill the jar with olive oil. Make sure all the eggplants are entirely covered, then tightly close the jar.

Stuffed eggplants with salt on top

To help the olive oil penetrate all the way into the jar, you can use a spoon or knife to lodge down into the sides of the jar and ‘wiggle’ it, to allow the olive oil to get everywhere.

Note: After the eggplants are consumed, you can still re-use the oil – it gets infused with the aromas of the eggplants and the stuffing. 

Store your jar in a cool, dark place such as a kitchen cupboard.

Stuffed Makdous - cured eggplant

The pickled eggplants – Makdous – will be ready in about 10-14 days (although some people find they’re ready at seven). If at any point you notice that the olive oil isn’t entirely covering the eggplants, add more olive oil.

If you keep them in the oil, completely covered, the Makdous can keep for up to a year. No need to refrigerate, just keep at room temperature in your cupboard as the olive oil acts as a natural preserver.

 

Other Lebanese vegan recipes you may like

If more Lebanese side dishes are what you’re in the mood for then, you might like this Spinach Fatayer (Lebanese spinach pie), or batata harra.

Alternatively, you might like this Simple Traditional Lebanese Fattoush Salad or even this Homemade Easy Falafel wrap – just to name a few. You might also like this Lebanese Garlic Sauce (Toum) recipe.

And, if you are looking for other eggplant recipes, check out this recipe for Spicy Roasted Eggplant Dip.

If you have any questions, leave a comment below Also, I love seeing your recreations so feel free to tag me on Instagram @AlphaFoodie.

Pickled Stuffed Eggplants Makdous

4.96 from 24 votes
By: Samira
This traditional Makdous recipe is for olive-oil cured vegan stuffed eggplant with a red pepper, chilli, walnut and garlic filling - Perfect for breakfast or a side dish alongside other mezze
Prep Time: 1 day
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 day 25 minutes
Servings: 18 stuffed eggplants

Ingredients 
 

  • 18 baby eggplants
  • 2 red peppers
  • 3 chill peppers small ones
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3 garlic cloves

Instructions 

  • Boil enough water in a large saucepan and then add the eggplants. Boil for 5-10 minutes until the eggplants are softened
  • Once they have softened, turn off the heat and let them rest in the water for 10-15 minutes. Then drain them.
  • Cut the tops of the eggplants. Then carefully slice half-way through, lengthwise - like a book.
  • Rub some salt on the inside of each eggplant then arrange them on a flat surface, not touching each other and press them with a heavy object. You could use a big pan lid or the bottom of a flat dish to place on top of them, then add another heavy object on top. Alternatively, you could arrange them within a colander and press with a heavy object.
  • With the combination of pressing and salt, this should help remove all the excess water from the eggplant. Keep them pressed for a few hours or even overnight to get as much of the water out as possible. The key is to keep them in a cool area, and this process can take up to 24 hours, do be patient and check them after every 5-6 hours. See video.
  • When you are ready to proceed, first make the stuffing. Slice the peppers and remove all seeds. Then either finely chop them or blitz them in a food processor/blender for a bit. 
  • Next, strain the liquid from the crushed peppers. You can put them in a sieve and press out all the excess liquid.**
  • Mash or grind the garlic cloves and roughly chop the walnuts. If you prefer, you can grind the walnuts into even smaller pieces. Then, mix the peppers, nuts and garlic together.
  • Stuff the eggplant shells with about 1 tBsp of the pepper walnut mixture. Depending on the size of the eggplants, adjust the amount.
  • For the next step, use a sterilised clean glass jar. To sterilise the jar, simply wash it with hot water, then put it in the oven (no rubber parts) for 10 minutes at 160ºC. Or after washing, pour boiling hot water over the jar ( just make sure it's heat-safe!
  • Arrange the stuffed eggplants in the jar. Stack them carefully so that the stuffing doesn't fall out
  • Sprinkle liberally with salt on top then fill the jar with olive oil. Make sure all the eggplants are entirely covered and tightly close the jar. **
  • Store your jar in a cool, dark place such as a kitchen cupboard. The pickled eggplants - Makdous - will be ready in about 10-14 days ( although some people find they're ready at seven). If at any point you notice that the olive oil isn't entirely covering the eggplants, add more olive oil. 
  • If you keep them in the oil, completely covered, the Makdous can keep for up to a year. No need to refrigerate, just keep at room temperature in your cupboard as the olive oil acts as a natural preserver. 

Video

Notes

  • * If you don't press all the water out of the eggplants then they can be 'sour' tasting, which isn't what you want. 
  • ** The drained pepper liquid can be used in making tomato sauces or dips or pasta sauces. 
  • ***To help the olive oil penetrate all the way into the jar, you can use a spoon or knife to lodge down into the sides of the jar and 'wiggle' it, to allow the olive oil to get everywhere.
  • Note: After the eggplants are consumed, you can still re-use the oil - it gets infused with the aromas of the eggplants and the stuffing. 
Course: Main
Cuisine: Lebanese, Middle Eastern
Freezer friendly: No
Shelf life: 1 Year

Nutrition

Serving: 1stuffed eggplant, Calories: 107kcal, Carbohydrates: 16g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 6mg, Potassium: 600mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 537IU, Vitamin C: 33mg, Calcium: 30mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe Rating




30 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My mom cried when I made these for her last fall, she said they tasted just like her great-grandmother’s. Making them again the year.

  2. Love these! Making for the second time now and looking for tips to keep the makdous submerged in the oil. Mine kept floating to the top thus exposing them to air. Thanks!

    1. Thank you for your comment, James. Happy you’ve enjoyed the recipe! To keep the makdous submerged, maybe place a small plate/cup saucer on top of them.

    2. when I am fermenting I use a lid from a yogurt container and I recut the lid in flower like configuration larger than the opening of the jar. the flower configuration allows you fold the recut top so that it can get into a narrow mouth but open up to roughly the dimension of the wider part of the jar and it allows for the flow of liquid to come over the barrier it provides. It’s a recycle strategy that has worked for me. I am currently out of tops so I will cut my next barrier insert out of the sides of the yogurt container and I am sure it will work just fine.

  3. Hi there, when you press the liquid from the eggplants and you say to keep it in a ‘cool’ place overnight, do you mean like the fridge? Or just a kitchen countertop?

    1. Hi Hanady, I normally leave it on my kitchen counter (and so does my mother too). My kitchen is about 21 deg Celsius. You can place it in the fridge if you prefer but since it’s cured with salt it should be perfectly fine outside of the fridge. Hope this helps,

  4. Are the red peppers spicy? Im not sure what Im buying, the small red peppers look like red jalapeños, the long ones could be red hatch chilis? Whats the goal here?

    1. Hi Kay, normally you pick your favourite peppers and traditionally they’re the spicy ones. My mom makes mixes it up so it’s not super super spicy and that’s what I did. I mixed the long sweet red peppers and the very spicy red jalapeños so it was spicy in the end but not burning? My aunt only puts jalapeños since she prefers it that way :-). You can always taste a bit of the mix before you stuff the eggplant and add more or less depending on your preference :). Hope this is helpful

      1. 4 stars
        I really love to eat this makdous. If goin home i dont want to miss this. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  5. Thank you for your recipe. I’ve read different recommendations on using raw garlic unrefrigerated in the olive oil (concerns re botulism). What is your opinion? Have you ever used pickled garlic instead of raw garlic?

    1. Hi Angela, thank you. I followed my mother traditional Lebanese recipe. We have been doing it for centuries and it’s always using raw garlic. But I think pickled garlic should work too. I just haven’t tried it myself. It might just a slight influence on the taste.

      1. Haha – I don’t blame you! I may be known for stealing one (or 3) from the jar as a snack when I have snack cravings!

  6. Hi there. I want to use the slender Japanese eggplants growing in my garden for this recipe. Is that okay?

    1. Hi Elizabeth, Sorry for the late reply. Yes these would work great too. Try to use the small size ones. Hope you’re gonna like the recipe.