The origin of the word almodrote is apparently from the word mortarium – as in the mortar used to crush spices and make spreads in the kitchen. Madruta (or Almodrote) is a dish made with a puree of roasted eggplants (which were previously crushed in a mortar and pestle prior to the creation of a food processor). In her book “The Jewish Cookbook East and West” Claudia Roden writes that a similar dish, made of eggplant puree, eggs and cheese, was mentioned in the records of trials conducted during the Inquisition as damning proof of the Jewishness of households purporting to be Christians.
In Tiberias, when talking about Madruta, they are talking about roasted eggplants served with chicken or chickpeas or, on Shavuot, with cheese. Chef Hemi Paska, who grew up in Tiberias, says “When you walk the streets of Tiberias on weekends, you can’t miss the smell of roasted eggplant coming from every house.”
Serve the madruta with garlic oil and top with chopped scallion.
Ingredients for roasted eggplant salad
For the garlic oil:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 pinch Salt
For the madruta:
- 10.6 oz (300 grams) Tzfatit cheese
- 4 eggplants medium-sized
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- ground black pepper
- 1 bunch scallions chopped (optional)
Prepare the garlic oil:
1. Mix oil, garlic and salt in a sealed jar and let sit until just before the madruta goes into the oven (the longer the oil and garlic sit together, the more the oil will absorb the garlic flavor).
Prepare the madruta:
2. Soak cheese in a bowl of water for about two hours (to moderate the saltiness). Drain, dry by gently patting with paper towels and cut into ¾-inch (2 cm) cubes.
3. Cook the eggplants over a stove burner or on the grill on all sides until their skin is charred and blackened (about 40 minutes in total). Cool, remove the skin and place in a strainer for an hour to drain the excess liquid.
4. Heat an oven to 355F (180C) degrees in convection/fan/turbo mode and grease a baking dish generously with the garlic oil (do not use all of it).
Assemble and bake:
5. Tear the eggplant flesh and place in the prepared dish. You can mix and dip the eggplant slices on all sides in the pan's garlic oil. Sprinkle the cheese between the eggplant slices, season with salt and black pepper, sprinkle the rest of the garlic oil evenly on top and bake for 15-20 minutes until browned on top. Remove from the oven, sprinkle green onions on top (optional) and serve hot.