Batenjan Makdous (Preserved Eggplants in Olive Oil)

It is the season of Autumn, and now is the right time for preparing the Mouneh (pantry). A few weeks ago I showed you how to prepare preserved meat, Awarma.  Now I’m going to show you how to preserve eggplants, using a recipe I learned from my mother-in-law years ago. It takes about ten days for the Makdous to have been pickled properly. After it has been prepared, the eggplants can be eaten as a appetizer, side dish or can even  be put in a sandwich alone. You will find many ways to enjoy it by playing on your own. Personally, I like to eat it for dinner with labneh (yoghurt) and cheese on the side; it makes for a lovely and easy to prepare dinner.


  • 1 kg baby eggplant
  • 200 grams whole nut
  • about 15 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon rock salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili paste (optional)
  • about 4 cups olive oil


  • Wash the eggplants, remove the stem
  • Place the eggplants in a pot full of water, leave it on fire for about 10 minutes (not more); the skin of the eggplants when tested should be soft
  • When the eggplants are cooked place in a strainer and wash with cold water. Make a small slit lengthwise in the eggplant, sprinkle with salt, put them back in the strainer, slit facing down, place a weight over them and leave it for about two days. This helps any remaining water to come out of the eggplants

  • Meanwhile, prepare the filling by roughly crushing the nuts and mixing it with garlic, salt and chili paste if desired
  • With you thumb widen the slit, fill each eggplant with a spoon from the nut garlic mixture

  • Place the filled eggplants in a jar, turn the jar upside down on a plate at a certain angle to release the remaining water, leave it for 2 days until no more juice comes out from it

  • Return the jar after 2 days to upright position, and fill it with olive oil. After five days the eggplants are ready to be consumed


Coconut Chocolate Balls

When my children were younger, I used to organize their birthday parties at home. I would invite all their friends and arranged for a nice party in our garden in Abu Dhabi. In the menu, I used to make these balls, which were very much appreciated by everybody. My children, who still like them until now, reminded me of them this summer as I was preparing for my grandson’s birthday; he loves them now too. As for myself, I still like making them because no baking is needed and they’re quick to do.


  • 2 cups grounded biscuits (use any kind you like: petite beurre, digestive etc..)
  • 1 cup, shredded coconut + extra for coating
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 cup condensed sweetened milk


  • Mix all the ingredients (except the coconut) together, knead until you have a smooth dough and not sticky
  • Take a small amount of the dough and roll it in you hands to form a ball shape then roll it into the coconut


Achtalye (Milk Pudding)

There is an amazing wide variety of Middle Eastern desserts. Some of these desserts are very complicated and require a lot of ingredients and preparation, like baklava, knefe and others. On the other had, some of them are simple, easy and quick to made, like the Achtalye I prepare today. This dessert can be found in Lebanon and in Palestine, and is similar to a dessert to Mhalabiyye, a kind of pudding made out of milk and cornflour. It is very high in calcium so its good for growing children and babies.


  • 1 cup powder milk
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup cornflour + 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon mastic, grounded
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
  • 1/2 cup pistachios for decoration
  • sugar syrup


  • Mix the cornflour with a half cup of water until it all dissolves
  • In a casserole place the powder milk, water and the cornflour and mix well
  • Place the casserole on a fire and let it boil, stirring constantly until it thickens
  • Add the mastic, remove from off the fire and pour the orange blossom water
  • Put this pudding into small individual bowls, allow to cool then refrigerate
  • To serve, decorate with pistachios and pour sugar syrup over


Chicken Stew With Olives

From time to time, I like to try new recipes, especially when I want to make chicken. A friend of mine who lives in a village, invited me once for lunch. And among the food she prepared, she made this chicken stew with olives as a main dish which we enjoyed a lot. I took the recipe and tried it at home. It was so good and so I decided to share the recipe with you today.


  • 1 whole chicken for about 1.5 kilo
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • about 10 baby onions
  • 1 cup black olives, seed removed and sliced


  • Mix the coriander, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, saffron, turmeric, basil, lemon and marinate the chicken with this mixture for around 10 minutes
  • Heat the oil in a pot and fry the chicken from all sides until it becomes golden
  • Add the onion and the olives, cover the chicken with about 4 cups of water and let it cook on a medium heat, when the water starts boiling, reduce the fire, cover the pot and let it cook until the chicken softens (to save time you can use a pressure cooker)
  • When cooked, place the chicken in a plate with all the vegetables with olives around
  • You can drain the remaining water and use it to cook rice with this stock, the rice will be flavorful


Lentil Salad

I mentioned earlier that salad is a free dish; you can mix whatever you like with any kind of vegetables, use the dressing you like and it will be delicious.

Green lentils are very commonly used in our cuisine. It can be made as Mjaddara, Mdardara, Lentil soup or Adas bel Hamod. I always boil lentils in large quantities and keep the remaining lentils in the freezer, to save time when making another dish. The Lentil Salad is a plate that my grand mother used to make always when she invited us for lunch. It is the kind of meal who can be eaten as a side dish, appetizer, or even as a main meal.


  • 2 cups boiled lentils
  • 1 large (or 2 medium) tomato
  • 3 cucumbers
  • 4 radishes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  • Drain the boiled lentils from any excess water
  • Cut all the vegetables into small cubes and mix with the lentils
  • Season with salt, black pepper, dried mint, lemon juice and olive oil


Artichoke Gratin

Artichoke is the kind of vegetables that can be cooked in so many ways. It can be used in salads or in a stew, it can even made into a gratin with white sauce and cheese. Since I love cheese, I decided to cook the artichoke for the lunch today the gratin way 🙂


  • one frozen bag of hearts of artichoke, about 500 grams
  • 150 grams minced beef
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 handful of pine seeds
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 tablespoon corn oil
  • cooking grated cheese, use the kind you like, I mix 1 cup of Emmental and one cup of Mozzarella cheese

Ingredients for the white sauce:

  • 50 grams butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • dash of freshly grated nutmeg


  • In a large pot boil about 1.5 liters water, add one tablespoon salt, and the artichoke then boil for about 10 minutes
  • In a saucepan heat 1 tablespoon corn oil, fry the onion until golden then add the pine seeds then the meat, cook until brown, season with  salt and some pepper to taste
  • Prepare the white sauce: melt the butter, add the flour, then gradually pour the milk whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens, season with 1 teaspoon salt and nutmeg
  • Now you can assemble the dish:
  • Preheat the oven to 180 C
  • In a baking dish put one tablespoon oil, place the hearts of artichoke, fill each one with meat, when all they are all filled, cover with the white sauce, then sprinkle the cheese over, bake in the oven for about 30 minutes until the top turns golden
  • Enjoy it with salad