- Onion1 Piece(s)Small diced onion
- Lean Beef180 Gram(s)ground
- Cumin1 Teaspoon(s)
- Tomato Puree2 Tablespoon(s)
- Water70 Milliliter(s)
- Parsley3 Tablespoon(s)chopped
- Rice180 Gram(s)Short Grain rice
- Olive Oil1 Tablespoon(s)
- SaltAs needed
- PepperAs needed
- Zucchini10 Piece(s)white zucchini from Egypt (pale green skin, about 15 cm)
- Potato2 Piece(s)Large thinly sliced
- Tomato2 Piece(s)large firm tomatoes , peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
- Ground Cumin1/2 Teaspoon(s)
- Tomato Coulis120 Milliliter(s)
- Dill1 Tablespoon(s)finely chopped dill
- Cilantro1 Tablespoon(s)finely chopped cilantro
- Chicken Broth500 Milliliter(s)(vegetable or beef)
- Lemon juice40 Milliliter(s)freshly squeezed
- Extra Virgin Olive oilAs neededfruity
The mahshi is a dish of vegetables stuffed with minced beef and rice cooked in a tomato and cumin sauce.
Most often, it is Egyptian zucchini that is used for this dish but there are some variations based on squash, eggplant, peppers, even tomatoes or potatoes.
Meat stuffing is not mandatory, many versions based on an exclusively vegetarian stuffing exist. The versions which are only based on vegetables are served cold or rather at room temperature, these are dolmas.
The meat versions are always hot. The Levantine version includes fresh mint and garlic. In Cyprus , it is more generally the zucchini flowers that are stuffed.
What is the origin of mahshi?
Mahshi is one of the many dishes of Ottoman origin that spread throughout the territory of the ancient empire, from the Balkans to Egypt through the Levant.
The name mahshi can literally translate as stuffed squash. In Croatian and Serbian , this dish takes the name of punjene tikvice . In Albania , it is called kungulleshka të mbushura . Finally in Turkey , it is called Kabak Dolmasi .
In Egypt , mahshi is present on all banquet tables for weddings, family reunions and especially during the celebrations of the month of Ramadan.
As this dish is not expensive, it is without doubt one of the most popular in Egypt. It is often found at meals for families across the country. Meat free for the poor and with the wealthy.
How to prepare mahshy?
To prepare a good mahshi, it is essential to obtain pale zucchini. These take the name of Lebanese zucchini or Egyptian zucchini depending on the countries where they are sold.
They are hollowed out using a manakra, a tool similar to the apple corer known in Europe. The stuffing with minced meat is prepared on the one hand by sautéing an onion and then adding the meat, parsley, cumin and tomato puree.
The use of minced meat is very common in Arabic cuisine and more particularly in Egypt. This stuffing is combined with short grain rice. On the other hand the zucchini pulp is prepared in a sauce with tomato.
The mahshi can thus be assembled by filling a Dutch oven with tomato and potato slices which will serve as a base for the zucchini. The zucchini stuffed with rice and meat are placed on top and then the tomato sauce, broth, olive oil and lemon are added.
After a long stew, the zucchini is very tender, the rice cooked and the meat very soft. The reduced sauce is flavored with cumin and this dish can thus be tasted.
What are the other stuffed vegetable dishes?
In the countries of the old Ottoman Empire, we find these rice and / or meat based stuffings in the famous stuffed vine leaves or in cabbage leaves . The attention paid to the preparation of these dishes from an ancient world makes them particularly pleasing to the eye when they are placed on a table.
The Mediterranean basin has many recipes based on vegetables, it must be said that in these latitudes, the cultivation of these is not difficult.
So in Provence , Italy as in the Maghreb and the Middle East , from the beginning of spring, all kinds of vegetables can be stuffed with meat, rice or simply vegetables.
In France, in the Nice region, the inhabitants have pushed the art of stuffing vegetables to the extreme, artichokes, fennels, cabbage, zucchini flowers, everything can be stuffed and simmered gently.
Lcien Tendret, nephew and biographer of the food critic Brillat-Savarin even gives a version based on lamb and roast chicken, truffles and wild mushrooms, a royal stuffing for very fleshy tomatoes.
According to author Andrée Maureau, stuffed vegetables are “as sumptuous for the eyes as for the mouth”. In France, it is especially the cabbage which is stuffed with sausage meat or pheasant, it takes in this case the name of chartreuse, a visually exceptional recipe which made the success of the French cooks of the XIXth century throughout Europe .
Pre-cooking of meat and rice
In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and brown the onion.
Once the onion is translucent, add the ground beef, ¼ teaspoon of salt and the cumin. Mix well.
Brown the meat, then add the tomato puree, parsley and water. Pepper.
Bring the sauce to a rapid boil, then remove from the heat and pour everything into a large bowl.
In the bowl, add the raw rice. Mix with the sauce using a wooden spoon. Set aside until the mixture cools.
Core the zucchini using a vegetable or apple peeler. Reserve the inside of the squash.
In the same Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Add the inside of the cored zucchini, cut into small pieces and the cumin. Salt and pepper.
Cook for 10 minutes over medium / low heat then add the tomato coulis, parsley, cilantro, and dill. Reserve.
Once the reserved rice mixture has cooled, stuff the hollowed zucchini with this mixture and reserve the rest.
Line a very large Dutch oven with tomato and potato slices to cover the bottom.
Place the zucchini in a single layer.
Add the rest of the rice mixture to the zucchini.
Pour the sauce over with the reserved zucchini pieces.
Add the chicken or beef broth, lemon juice and 5 tablespoons of olive oil.
Salt and pepper again.
Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and cook covered over medium heat for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the liquid is absorbed and the sauce is smooth.