Fattet Makdous is a layered cold dish with eggplants (makdous), yogurt, minced meat and tomatoes. Fatteh can be translated as “crushed” or “crumbs,” as it includes pieces of fried pita bread. They make it all over the Levant region, in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon but originally fattet makdous is Syrian.
Since I’ve tried it, I was pleasantly amazed by that burst of flavour, it has very different tastes coming from multiple ingredients. I wanted to make it, yet going through the recipes gave me a headache: different spices, ways of layering and serving it, products included. Finally I was so intimidated by this dish, yet my curiosity won over. So, while my stomach is still full with this lovely Arabic dish, I’m writing this post.
1) Fry some minced meat with oil and chopped onion. Usually it’s cooked with lamb, yet a good beef would do. Add allspice, cinnamon and salt. Cool it at the room temperature.
2) Take baby eggplants, poke them with a fork and stew them in a thick frying pan with some water and oil. They should keep the shape but be well done. If you don’t have small eggplants, you can use big ones, chopped into cubes. I’ve used both, small eggplants to be placed on top, and cubes for the layer.
3) Put thinly sliced onions, fry them, and then add chopped tomatoes without the skin. I’ve skipped the process of tomato peeling, and added Italian tomatoes from the jar, in Jordan they sell them in Carrefour or Cozmo. After the tomato juice is almost evaporated, add a spoon of tomato paste, fry it and mix altogether.
4) Prepare the dried bread. Usually for fattet makdous they use deep fried pita bread. If you are in Jordan, you can find it in places where they serve fattoush. Some housewives fry pita in the oven, to avoid excessive oil. I used crispy diet chips out of the pack, they don’t get wet quickly and have an additional rye wheat taste.
5) Place yoghurt into a deep bowl, add lemon juice, pomegranate molasses (optional), tahini paste, chopped garlic and salt. This can be quite a challenge if you don’t have someone experienced in Arabic cuisine, yet you can do it. Just reach the point where you can feel all the tastes together, without any dominating one.
6) Fry some pine nuts. I’ve also used some peanuts for the meat layer inside, and this is optional.
7) Take a Pyrex dish and place the layers: dry pieces of bread, yoghurt mix, minced meat, nuts (optional), eggplants, tomatoes, and another layer of yoghurt mix. There are different ways of layering fattet makdous, as different ways of serving it.
8) Cut baby eggplants halfway through and place them on the top of the dish. Insert minced meat inside them and sprinkle some roasted pine nuts over. Sometimes they place more dried pita bread pieces on the edges or use parsley to garnish, it’s up to you. There's also a nice trick, to fry some garlic in oil, throw it away, and pur some drops over baby eggplants for the addtional smell.
Serve it immediately, so the dried bread pieces won’t get a lot of moist from the yoghurt mix. Enjoy!