When I was trying to brainstorm what I'd like to contribute to our Food community today, I thought about my trip to the grocery store today, where I bought ingredients to make the recipe below. Every so often, I feel this need to make a super traditional Middle Eastern dinner. The aroma and flavor of each dish reminds me of my family - especially my mother, who taught me how to cook them!
Kousa mahshi - or 'mahshi', for short - is hollowed out zucchini stuffed with meat, rice, and spices then simmered in a savory tomato-based broth. I love this recipe because it's one of many Middle Eastern recipes that don't require you to hunt down special ingredients. You'll be able to find all of that's listed below at your local supermarket!
Lebanese-Style Stuffed Zucchini
Makes 6 to 8 servings
8 small-to-medium (~7") zucchinis
1 to 1 1/2 cups lamb or beef (or both combined!), coarsely ground
1 cup short grain rice
3 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper and allspice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
Lemon juice, to taste
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
Plain yogurt, optional
Step 1: Prepare the zucchini.
Wash and cut off the top of each zucchini. Then, using a corer, scoop out the center of each, leaving a 1/2 'wall' so that your zucchini doesn't break when it's steamed.
(Pro Tip: My mother used to keep what what removed and add it to the pot just before putting the lid on and cooking all the ingredients. It'd create a great leftover 'soup' at the bottom of the pot with whatever meat and rice fell out of the zucchini during the cooking process. It makes for a really yummy lunch!)
Step 2: Create the stuffing.
Wash the rice well and mix it with the ground meat, salt, pepper, allspice, and cinnamon. If your meat is on the leaner side, add a tablespoon of melted butter or margarine. Once the mixture is ready, stuff each zucchini with clean hands.
Step 3: Get ready to cook.
Place your stuffed zucchinis side by side and in layers in a large pot. Once they're all loaded in, open your can of tomato sauce and pour it over them. Fill with water until the zucchini is sufficiently covered and add a dash of salt.
Step 4: Time for the waiting game!
Put a lid on the pot, bring the tomato broth to a boil, then cook over a low heat for roughly 50 minutes or until done. Squeeze some lemon juice over the zucchini, then replace the lid, and wait an additional 10 minutes.
Step 5: Dinner is served.
Using a pair of tongs, gently transfer each zucchini to a plate. (The remaining liquid in the pot is that really yummy soup I was telling you about in Step 1!) You can eat the zucchini with a fork as is, or more traditionally, serve it with a generous scoop of yogurt.
So what do you guys think? Can you see yourselves falling in love with kousa mahshi too?
If you decide to make it at home and have any questions, let me know! And for more Middle Eastern recipes, follow my Traditional Middle Eastern Recipes collection.