Antioxidant, Digestive and Fancy
The Lebanese Pickle of Stuffed Eggplants
This is not your common pickle, and, while we are starting seeing them canned or jarred in supermarkets, I strongly recommend preparing them at home to maintain their good quality and enjoy their real taste.
They go by the name of Makdous Batenjein in our homeland and the neighboring Levantine countries, and they are stuffed by a mixture of walnuts, red pepper, garlic, and fresh cilantro or coriander.
The Pickles are of antioxidant and digestive values, and are good suppliers of essential vitamins and minerals.
THE STUFFED EGGPLANT PICKLES
A great succulent appetizer, our Stuffed Eggplant Pickles are yet to join their siblings in their well-traveled fame. The delay is probably due to their consumption as is, alone or siding other dishes, and not in our wraps. However, the prestigious Lebanese restaurants in London and Paris do have them in their Mezza Menu for decades now.
The Stuffed Eggplant Pickle carries the name of Makdous Batenjein, meaning Pressed Eggplant, and also Kabiss Batenjein, meaning Eggplant Pickle.
It is the Baby Eggplant we use for this stuffed pickle. They come small and more rounded. Our land produces three types of Eggplants: the large one, which we cook for the Baba Ghanouj, and also fried sided by Tahini dressing; the long medium eggplants which we cook stuffed in recipes like the fancy Sheikh El-Mehchi and Stuffed Eggplants in Tomato Sauce; and the Baby Eggplants which we use for this recipe.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS
The Process of making the Pickled Stuffed Eggplants is a culinary art,
an easy one yet requires 2 consecutive overnights.
Stuffed Eggplant Pickles
- 2 Kg Eggplants (small) preferably the 'baby' type; washed
- 2 1/4 cups Olive Oil Extra-Virgin
For the Stuffing
- 4 cloves Garlic mashed
- 120 gr Walnuts pounded in small chunks
- 1 tbsp Fresh Cilantro finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Pomegranate kernels/seeds
- 1 tbsp Red Pepper chopped finely
- 1 tbsp Salt (kosher)
- Airtight Glass Jars
Remove only the (green) stems of the eggplants with a sharp knife. Do not cut the eggplants.
Place them in a large casserole, covered in water, over high heat, and bring them to a boil. Cover and leave them to cook for 10 minutes until soft but not tender.
Remove the eggplants on a sieve and leave them to cool (about 30 minutes).
Using the sharp knife, make a deep opening lengthwise without reaching the extremities of the eggplant and without cutting the bottom.
Lay a kitchen towel on a large tray, and transfer the eggplants on. Cover with another kitchen towel and use your palms to press them down to remove any excess of liquid.
Arrange the eggplants on a large serving plate, cover with a large plate, and press on. Keep them under the pressure of the plate overnight.
Mix well the mashed garlic, the chopped coriander, the red pepper, and the walnuts chunks. Add the Pomegranate and mix. Drizzle on 2 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil and mix gently but well.
One by one, place the eggplants in your palm, dip your finger in little salt, and sweep the interior as you widen the opening on all sides. Then, fill it with one teaspoon of mixture, pressing it in.
Do a gentle pressure with your palm and fingers to bring the opening closely. This will avoid the dripping of the mixture, and ensure a cleaner and more appealing look at consumption time.
Place a first layer of eggplants in the jar(s) horizontally, and sprinkle salt on. Proceed the same with all the eggplants, with salt in between each layer.
Flip the jars on a colander (or tilted inward on a plate) and leave them overnight for all the liquid to drain out
In the morning, flip the jars back up, and fill them with the olive oil. Cover, and shake them gently sideways to ensure the oil spreads evenly then pour more olive oil to saturation level.
Examine the jars for any gaps with no oil or empty spots. If the case arises with you, gently insert the handle of a spoon between the glass and the piled eggplants for the olive oil to flow in. Pour more olive oil to saturation level.
Before closing the jars, clean the rims with a damp kitchen towel.
Close air-tightly, and store them, for two weeks, at room temperature in a cool, undisturbed area. (No sunlight).
Unlike the Pickled Cucumbers and Turnips, we don't need to refrigerate this type of pickles before consuming them. Yet do so if you have pickles left unconsumed. You may also transfer them into a Tupperware and keep in the fridge.
These pickles are delicious as appetizers alone or with drinks (specially the Lebanese Arak), and siding the grills and Mezza.