Ramadan recipe: fattet al makdous – stuffed aubergine in tomato and yoghurt-tahini sauce

Throughout the holy month, 'The National' is teaming up with Table Tales to share daily recipes to experiment with at home

Fattet al makdous, stuffed aubergine in tomato and yoghurt-tahini sauce, Hanan Sayed Worrell. Victor Besa / The National 
Fattet al makdous, stuffed aubergine in tomato and yoghurt-tahini sauce, Hanan Sayed Worrell. Victor Besa / The National 

Join The National and Table Tales on a culinary journey around the Middle East to savour the quintessential dishes that embody the spirit of Ramadan. From table staples to family favourites, this series of recipes pays homage to the holy month and the home cook.

Fatteh is a Levantine dish of fried or toasted bread layered with grains, meat or vegetables and topped with yoghurt. There isn’t a direct translation in English for fatteh, which is derived from the Arabic verb fatta, meaning to crumble bread. Some refer to it as the “nachos of the Middle East”. Fatteh is popular at iftar tables for its soothing layer of yoghurt.

Recipe contributor Hanan Sayed Worrell of Table Tales says: “Historically, the aubergine has been a favourite of the poor and ridiculed by the rich. Early on, aubergines (eggplants in the US) were round and white, resembling large eggs. Some say that the vegetable’s Arabic name, bad al jan, which means the djinn has laid eggs, shows that it was considered evil.

“But not in this case. Fattet al makdous is a well-known Damascene dish, which might be laborious to make, but has dramatic appeal with its different layers of texture and flavours. I learnt to make it from my Syrian grandmother.”

“Over the years, I have also adapted an easier vegetarian version, by simply slicing the eggplant, brushing it with oil and grilling it in the oven before simmering in the tomato sauce, to make a divine fatteh that is at once creamy, tangy and crunchy.”

Hanan Sayed Worrell, author of 'Table Tales: The Global Nomad Cuisine of Abu Dhabi'. 
Hanan Sayed Worrell, author of 'Table Tales: The Global Nomad Cuisine of Abu Dhabi'. 

Fattet al makdous – stuffed aubergine in tomato and yoghurt-tahini sauce

Serves 8

Ingredients for the stuffed aubergine:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 55g pine nuts, divided
  • 120ml cooking oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 350g minced beef
  • 1 tsp seven spice
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 5kg (about 8-9) baby aubergines

Ingredients for tomato sauce:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 750g tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Ingredients for yoghurt sauce:

  • 450g plain yoghurt
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Ingredients for fatteh:

  • 1-2 small pittas
  • Cooking oil (if frying the bread)
  • Pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley, to garnish

Method for stuffed aubergine:

  • Saute the pine nuts in one spoon of oil, shaking the pan until lightly browned. Remove and drain on paper towels.
  • Add two tablespoons of cooking oil to the skillet and saute the onions until transparent. Add the beef and crush with a fork to combine. Season with seven spice, cinnamon, salt and pepper, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the beef has cooked. Remove from the heat. Stir in two tablespoons of the pine nuts.
  • Peel the aubergines lengthwise in alternating strips. Hollow with a corer and fill with the meat and pine nut mixture. Add the remaining cooking oil to a deep skillet over medium heat. Fry the aubergine, turning until golden brown.

Method for tomato sauce:

  • In a wide saucepan, saute the onions in olive oil until transparent. Add the tomato sauce, paste, sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  • Add the aubergines to the sauce and simmer on low heat for 30 to 40 minutes or until the aubergines are soft, turning them over a couple times.

Method for yoghurt sauce:

  • Mix the yoghurt with all the ingredients. Adjust to taste. Bring to room temperature.

Method for fatteh:

  • Cut the pitta into two centimetre squares. Fry in hot oil for a minute or two until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. (Alternatively, open the pitta, toast in the oven and then crush into pieces.)
  • To serve, place the pitta pieces at the bottom of a deep serving dish and pour over the yoghurt sauce.
  • Layer the aubergine from the tomato sauce over it. Drizzle with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle pine nuts on top and garnish with pomegranate seeds and parsley.

This dish has been brought to you by international recipe hunter Hanan Sayed Worrell, author of Table Tales: The Global Nomad Cuisine of Abu Dhabi. The Table Tales concept celebrates the people and stories that give flavour to recipes of the Middle East.

Updated: May 5, 2021 09:17 AM

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