The ultimate Middle Eastern comfort food. Almost all Arabic households around this time of year will be making mahshi; stuffed vegetables. Kousa Mahshi has a special place in my heart. My mom would make it frequently growing up and it was always a favorite of mine especially with the garlic yogurt sauce. I have always been obsessed with dairy. Too much for my own good. Any meal that had yogurt; I was in. Anything from Mansaf to shish barak (meat dumplings in a yogurt sauce) was a winner in my book. I haven’t had this meal since I got married and moved miles and miles away. So, yesterday I just had to make it. I talked to my mom the whole time making sure it would taste just like hers, and it did. I hope you enjoy the recipe below. There are several variations to this dish. Some people won’t cook the meat beforehand and some will cook the zucchini solely in the yogurt and not steam first. This is the beauty of food; each recipe has its own story.
Total Time: approx. 45 min
6 Zucchini’s (These are called Tatum zucchini’s and they are often used in Middle Eastern cooking for stuffing)
1/3 cup white rice (rinsed)
1/2 lb of ground beef
1/2 tsp. pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped tomato
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 garlic cloves minced
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp of allspice (divided in two)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups water
3 cups plain whole fat yogurt
2 cups of water
1 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp citric acid
1 tsp. veggeta seasoning or just use salt
Black pepper to taste
1 tsp. garlic powder
6 garlic cloves minced
1 tbsp dried mint
2 tbsp olive oil
Core the insides of the zucchini gently and trying not to pierce into the bottom of the zucchini or sides. Take your time with this step. *Keep the insides. It tastes awesome sauteed with garlic, and olive oil.
Add rinsed rice to the diced veggies. Season with 1/2 tbsp allspice, pomegranate molasses, salt & pepper.
Cook the ground beef in a skillet seasoned with salt, pepper, and allspice just until it turns light brown. Place meat into the rice filling and add the olive oil.
Stuff the zucchinis no more than 3/4 of the way with the filling since the rice will expand when cooking.
Add the zucchinis to a large pot. Top with 2 cups of water and cover with a plate that fits on top of the zucchini. This will create a steam effect to cook the flesh of the zucchini. Cook on high for about 15 minutes. Check the flesh to ensure it is tender.
In the meantime, work on the yogurt sauce.
In a blender, pulse all the yogurt ingredients together. Taste and see if it needs more salt, pepper, or citric acid.
Add this mixture to another pot. Keep stirring on high heat for about 10 minutes until it reaches a boil and the whole mixture is bubbling. That is when the sauce is ready.
Once zucchinis are tender, drain out most of the water that may still be in the pot. Add the yogurt sauce on top of the zucchini. Let this cook together for about 15 minutes until rice is tender inside.
In the meantime, pan fry the garlic with olive oil. Add this to the stuffed zucchini and yogurt. Sprinkle in the dried mint too and bon appetit!