“My grandmother, who cooked Damascus-Jewish food, prepared medias only with eggplants,” says Sigi Mantel, the author of the cookbook “Tevorahnah Yadaikh” (‘Blessed Are Your Hands’) and 3rd generation member of a family who immigrated to Israel from Syria. There are several versions of this dish, the most famous of which is made with zucchini, but this recipe is true to her grandmother’s version. The dish is served at Shabbat dinner or on holidays, usually over rice with plenty of lemon wedges. “The perfect bite, as I have taught my children,” laughs Sigi, “is to spread tahini on a slice of challah, place the medias over it and squeeze lemon juice on top.”
There is also a meatless version of this dish, traditionally prepared on Shavuot, “it is delectable, but requires skill,” says Sigi. In this variation, the meat is often replaced with jibneh — in Sigi’s home, she uses Kadosh Safed cheese. It’s served on a slice of bread and drizzled with yogurt mixed with dried mint.
1½ white bread slices without the crust, soaked and squeezed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Slice the peeled eggplants into ½-in / 1-cm thick slices. Season with salt on both sides and let drain in a wide colander for 15 minutes. Wipe well with a paper towel.
Prepare the patties: Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Divide the meat mixture into patties, about 1 tablespoon each (there should be as many patties as there are eggplant slices). Press each patty on an eggplant slice.
Heat the oil for shallow frying in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot (but not smoking), place the eggplant slices with the meat facing down, and fry until golden brown (frying in this order will ensure the meat “sticks” to the eggplant). Carefully turn the slices and fry on the other side until brown. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.
Arrange the medias in a shallow, wide pot, with the meat side facing up. Mix the tomato paste, grated tomatoes, water, salt, and black pepper in a bowl and pour over the medias. Place the pot over a medium heat and bring to a boil. Pour the lemon juice, cover, reduce to a low heat and simmer gently for about 1 hour. Serve over steamed rice with lemon wedges or with challah and tahini as Sigi does.