Daraa women cling to “Makdous,” “Labneh Balls” as favorable home-made dishes
Enab Baladi – Daraa
The 50-year-old Maryam awaits her expatriate son’s remittance to begin preparing Makdous, the traditional breakfast component for most Syrians.
The high cost of preparing the oil-cured and walnut-stuffed aubergines in Tal Shihab town in the western countryside of Daraa makes Maryam no longer able to pay the costs of the morning delicious dish due to the high prices of food basics compared to previous years.
Every year, the women of the southern region depend mainly on storing the winter eatables, including Makdous, despite the financial hardship experienced by most of the residents of Daraa.
The housewives insist on preparing the home-made supplies, as it is the most important component of the breakfast table in the winter, which is better than relying on other foods that may cost many times more.
Makdous alternatives are expensive
Maryam told Enab Baladi that the Makdous dish is a priority in storing winter supplies, given the costs it saves from relying on expensive eatables and meals, as she described it.
Maryam, who lives with her married son and his six-family members, relies on the remittances of her second son since their income depends on day labor which only secures the basics of daily living.
Umm Mahmoud, 45, of Tafas town, told Enab Baladi that she will also prepare Makdous this year despite the high cost of its ingredients. She decided to sell her calf to afford the cost.
The continuous rise in prices of eggs, cheese, and milk materials pushed families to rely upon such home-made eatables.
The average cost of preparing a breakfast meal for one family in Daraa is currently estimated at about 8,000 SYP (about 2 USD), which includes six eggs, a plate of cheese and milk, and a plate of legume products such as chickpeas, beans, and falafel.
Half a million
Maryam estimated the cost of making Makdous for 100 kilograms of aubergine at about 500,000 Syrian pounds (130 USD).
This quantity needs 16 liters of olive oil at a price of about 250,000 SYP (65 USD), while the average price of a kilo of aubergine is about 1,500 SYP and the price of one kilo of walnuts about 45,000 SYP (12 USD).
The 100 kilogram of aubergine needs about 3 kilograms of nuts or less, and about 50 kilograms of peppers equals 100,000 SYP (25 USD).
Oil and walnuts raise the cost
In August of each year, al-Hal (the main vegetable markets in Syria) witness a high demand for eggplant and red peppers to prepare Makdous, such a demand leads to an increase in its prices.
The most notable increase this year was in the price of olive oil compared to last year.
The price of 16 liters of olive oil did not exceed 100,000 SYP in 2021, while its price today has reached about 250,000, according to local merchants.
Mustafa, 40, an olive oil trader from the Yarmouk Basin region, said the soaring hike in olive oil prices is up to smuggling it to Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq.
The second reason is related to the price of vegetable oil, which witnessed a rise after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as the price of one liter reached 17,000 SYP (about 5 USD).
Maryam told Enab Baladi that in the past years, some Syrian families used to mix olive oil with vegetable oil to save costs because vegetable oil was cheaper, but this option is no longer feasible in reducing costs this year, she added.
Among the factors that contributed to the rise in the cost of Makdous was the rise in the price of walnuts after the Syrian regime’s government banned, at the end of March, the import of nuts, including walnuts, until the end of this year.
Winter home-made supplies are not limited to storing Makdous for winter, as storing labneh balls is one of the basics for some families, while others abandoned storing it after the high prices of milk and oil since the price of one kilo of dry milk reached about 15,000 SYP (4 USD).
Daraa residents, who also used to make and store jams, were forced to halt that annual ritual due to the high price of sugar that reached unprecedented levels.
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