In Greek: συκομαϊδα, pronounced see-koh-ma-EE-thah (hard “th”)
Traditionally, these little bundles of spiced figs wrapped in fig leaves are dried in the sun, but a slow oven does a great job. Once cooked, these will stay fresh and edible up to a year. Although the list of ingredients is slightly long, they are easy to make.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
- 2 1/4 pounds of dried figs
- 3 1/2 ounces of masticha liqueur (also known as masticha or mastic liqueur)*
- 3 1/2 ounces of ouzo
- 7/8 cup of grape must
- 7/8 cup of crushed walnuts
- 1 bunch of fresh fennel leaves
- 2 tablespoons of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon of aniseed
- 1 tablespoon of ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
- fig leaves
* Can’t find mastic liqueur? Substitute Metaxa brandy or more ouzo (for a total of 7 ounces – 7/8 cup – of ouzo).
Chop the figs into small pieces with a knife (or kitchen shears). Sprinkle with a little ouzo and let sit for 15 minutes to soften and become more malleable.
Put the figs in a large bowl and knead until they become a smooth mixture. Add all remaining ingredients: mastiha liqueur, remaining ouzo, walnuts, fennel, pepper, aniseed, cloves, and cinnamon. Knead all ingredients until well and evenly blended. Taste, and if too bitter, add a little sugar.
When the mixture is well kneaded, form into balls the size of large meatballs (the traditional shape is round, however they can be made in almost any shape). Brush each ball with grape must to make it more flexible and shiny. Wrap each ball in fig leaves. Generally, one leaf on top and one on the bottom will be enough. Wrap edges of the leaves around the ball to cover, tie with string, knot, and cut off excess.
Cook in a slow oven 120-125°F (50°C) for two hours.
Note: Sykomaïtha are bittersweet, and are a fabulous meze with all kinds of spirits. It’s almost impossible to eat a whole one at one sitting, but they can be stored in the leaves or in a plastic bag, and will stay fresh and edible for up to a year.