Stuffed carrots

November 3, 2011  •  Category:


Some of us who grew up in Beirut may not have had this dish (we did not) and I am not exactly sure when it made its appearance or which community makes it. The fact is that it is really flavorful with a natural  sweetness imparted by the carrots and the tamarind in the sauce.

The tamarind paste used in this dish can be found in ethnic markets (Asian, Indian, Thai, etc). Best to get one that is pure tamarind. This fruit paste will last a long time wrapped tightly and is a very healthy food extracted from the pods of the tamarind tree.

Normally this dish is stuffed with medium-grain white rice and minced meat but I used maftoul, a wheat-based type of couscous;  a whole-grain’s rustic flavor pairs well with the carrots and the tamarind. Any whole-grain would work, provided you parboil it first.

INGREDIENTS: 8 servings

  • 3 pounds of thick carrots
  • 1/2 cup of maftoul or other whole-grain or rice
  • 1/4 cup  of tamarind paste (3 tbsp)
  • 1/2 cup of tomato paste
  • 1/2 pound of minced meat (fatty if possible, 75/25)
  • spices: 1 tsp of Aleppo pepper, 1 tsp of allspice, 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of black pepper, 1 tsp (or more) of salt
  • olive oil, as needed


  1. Peel and cut the carrots so they would be of equal size; place carrots (and broken carrot pieces) in a pot and cover with water; boil for 7 minutes and let cool in the water. The carrots need to be softened but not too soft or they will be impossible to core.
  2. Place the maftoul or other whole-grain in a bowl and cover with boiling water to precook it and soften it. Drain it after 15 minutes or so and add the minced meat and spices and combine well. Core the carrots and stuff with the meat mixture, leaving a little gap at the end as the grain will expand. Place the carrots in a pot, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and sauté them for a few minutes. Dissolve the tamarind in 2 cups of the remaining carrot water with the tomato paste (don’t worry if it does not dissolve completely at this point) and pour over the carrots; you may add the insides of the carrots as well as the tips. Season the broth with salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg or cinnamon and cover; simmer for 45 minutes until the stuffing is fully cooked. Serve warm.

NOTE: If you have leftover stuffing, shape it into small meatballs and drop in the sauce to cook alongside the carrots; include the inside of the cored carrots as well.


50 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Tim Vidra says:

    Now that is a very interesting use for the larger carrots which I usually tend to avoid. Not anymore. Beautiful!


  2. Belinda @zomppa says:

    Tamarind and carrots – brilliant! What a gorgeous presentation.

  3. Nicole says:

    That looks like a delectable meal. I love the photos too. Did you ever hear them say in France that carrots make you “nice?” Funny…

  4. Yasmeen @ Wandering says:

    My boyfriend has started growing zucchinis so I can make him mahshi! Ha. I tried explaining that we love stuffing everything, and when I told him we stuff carrots, I don’t think he believed me. I’m going to make these for him, just to prove it 🙂 Yours look scrumptious.

  5. Arlette says:

    Marhaba Joumana,
    IN Baalback my grandparents and my aunt they used to prepare a big pot of stuffed vegetables, not only carrots or koussa, also the onions and the artichoke and pepper
    oh my the smell and the taste were awsome. thanks for sharing this old recipe, i dont remember they ever used Tamarind Sauce, maybe the pomegranate molasses. Rizkallah ala Iyam Zaman shou kanit helweh. .

  6. the indolent cook says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a stuffed carrot dish before! It looks delicious.

  7. Oui, Chef says:

    I’m not sure I could find carrots this big here…they sure grow ’em big down in Texas, don’t they? Lovely flavors and a beautiful presentation.

  8. createwithmom says:

    interesting delicious dish looks wonderful

  9. Jennifer says:

    I have never seen stuffed carrots before! They look incredible!

  10. kouky says:

    jamais farci de carottes mais je suis très séduite par cette délicieuse recette qu’il faudra tester car en ce moment j’ai de grosses carottes.l’idée de les farcir avec le maftoul, l’équivalent de notre aich, me parait intéressante.Merci pour tes voeux et tes gentils compliments qui me touchent beaucoup! bonne fête!

  11. Krista says:

    What a cool way to prepare and present carrots, Joumana! 🙂 I absolutely delighted by this and will have to give it a try since I just found a corer in one of the drawers in my new kitchen. 🙂

  12. Rosa says:

    That is a very unusual dish! I love the idea and the stuffing.



  13. Priya says:

    Woww beautiful stuffed carrots..

  14. Turkey's For Life says:

    Wow, I love the look and the idea of this dish but I’m not sure I could successfully core the carrots – unless it’s easier than it looks? Would love to try it though.

  15. Claudia says:

    You stuffed a carrot! I didn’t know one could stuff a carrot! And – it makes the carrot look good!

  16. Angie's Recipes says:

    Stuffed carrots…wow…what an unique recipe!

  17. Nuts about food says:

    I had never seen stuffed carrots before. Wonder now why I never thought of it before…

  18. Susan says:

    I’ve heard of stuffed cabbage and stuffed peppers but never stuffed carrots! I think they sound wonderful! Carrots and I get along great!

  19. samir says:

    I have never forgotten this dish..its was prepared for me by some Palestinian friends, as palestinian cookery features them .. your stunning pictures brought it all back to me..the delicious stuffed carrots swimming in gleaming tangy crimson sauce peppered with mint..they xplained that tamarind should be used for this mahashi dish and they would use the reddish(purpulish/brown ones back home as i can make it following your recipe…thank you for posting

    • Joumana says:

      @Samir: So this is of Palestinian origin? That explains why my grandmother never made it, nor used tamer hindi! Strangely enough, I stuffed the carrots with some maftoul I found at Williams Sonoma of all places with the label “Palestinian, organic, maftoul, made the artisan way”; in reality this is the best maftoul I have ever had, the grains are irregular the way handmade ones are and the second you open the box, the smell of wild wheat escapes from it. Extraordinary.
      @Samir: I guess so! Interesting and ditto for all the previous things you mention!

  20. samir says:

    not sure of the origin but from my understanding this was made only a couple of times a year in Palestinian/Jordanian homes when carrots would be in season only during the fall and part of the winter in the Middle East,before produce became so industrialized.and back home( Ramallah) they used the purplish red/brown carrot as well that had irregular shapes and the stuffing them was labour of love cause it would be hard to core..and that tamarhindi was used for this dish giving this dish that sweet tanginess …but the other mahashi dishes were similar to all the other Levanatine versions( koosa,eggplant,cabbage,silik,peppers etc..)..not sure if it so common these days , an old time dish ,today kids prefer to eat khubz and zaater with coke instead of tea..I love artisan products like you mentioned and its very interesting you were drawn to use maftoul from Palestine to stuff your carrots instead of the typical rice..,what is that called synchronicity?

  21. kate says:

    I too have never seen stuffed carrots, I make dolma all the time but for me, this is something competely new. It looks amazing!

  22. domi says:

    Bonjour Joumana, que voilà une superbe et goûteuse recette qui aura soyons en sûr un grand succés auprès des français…et tous les autres. Bisous et passe un bon WE

  23. Chiara says:

    What a gorgeous presentation Joumana! It looks tasty! have a good weekend…

  24. Sonia says:

    A unique recipe, nice to discover in your blog here, thanks for sharing,

  25. Anna says:

    Interesting vegetable dish! I am a little clueless on how did you core the carrots. It can be a tricky since carrots have a narrower body. I really want to try this recipe since my daughter was bugs bunny in her previous life. She really adores carrots. Thanks a lot.

    • Joumana says:

      @Anna: I will dig up a photo and include it in the post of the vegetable corer I use; it is a corer with a long spout, ideal for carrots as well as zucchini, eggplants, etc. It is available at the Middle-Eastern markets.

  26. Melanie@MelanieCooks says:

    Coring the carrots sounds like quite a tedious job, but those stuffed carrots look delicious!

  27. sare says:

    Dear Joumana, They look delicious.
    I know this dish. We have the yellow- carrots in the south- east of, in Gaziantep, Türkiye. When I went to Antep last year, I saw and bought some of them and stuffed them minced meat- bulgur … They were delicious. I didn’t use tamarind paste.(because I don’t know)
    Thank you.

  28. Erica says:

    What a wonderful idea! We love carrots….and this dish sounds delicious.

  29. Kathy says:

    This looks so interesting…I have never seen stuffed carrots! They look amazing!

  30. Katie@Cozydelicious says:

    These carrots look amazing! I have never thought to core and stuff a carrot, but I am so excited to try. I’m thinking I may need some special tools to core carrots, but it looks so worth it, I’ll have to look for a corer like yours.

  31. Magic of Spice says:

    WOW! I just made roasted carrots and now they seem completely dull. These are such a fantastic way to prepare carrots…wonderful!

  32. Lana says:

    Hi Joumana , we make this dish in Sidon ( Southern Lebanon). It is usually served with stuffed Koussa too and the whole dish is called “Ablama”. Because of the name I think it could be of Turkish origin .My granny’s version is stuffed with meat ( that is sautéed with some onions and pine nuts a la Kibbeh stuffing) and a tangy pomegranate sauce. Served with Rice it is one of my favorites. Thanks for showing hot to stuff the carrots I always assumed my granny did it with raw carrots and that it was too difficult to make on your own.

    • Joumana says:

      @Lana: I am going to have to ask my relatives, since my mom’s family came from Saida, but they never made this dish! So interesting and it sounds delicious made the ablama-way, with the rice as a side dish; thanks for the clarification, I really appreciate it!

  33. Libyan Food says:

    Levantine food like Maqluba, Kiba and baba ghanoug have became staples in Libya due to the large Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian communities. This stuffed carrot recipe however is one I only heard of from an old Palestinian Neighbour who would wax lyrical about the dish but never made it as she could not find the right kind of carrots and tamarind in Libya.

    Her descriptions really made me want to try it though, so thanks for posting the recipe!

  34. Libyan Food says:

    From Samir’s comments and our neighbour it seemed this might be a Palestinian specialty, I did a search for a rice based recipe just to check whether the rice needs to be soaked, and found this description of stuffed carrots by Palestinian writer Raja Aziz Shehadeh:

    This was not the first time I had eaten stuffed carrots (called mahshi) but I never remembered it being so tasty. These carrots are not the thin orange variety that Bugs Bunny chomps in cartoons but rather reddish brown, short, odd-shaped roots. They were peeled, then hollowed out using the tip of a knife. This is not a simple task: One of the guests described how his mother used to send him to the carpenter to use a drill to hollow the carrots out. The cook then fills them with a mixture of rice, tomatoes, olive oil, cinnamon, and crushed walnuts (and, sometimes meat). But these had such a tangy sweet and sour taste. I was told the secret was dried mint and tamarind paste, called tamar hindi, which had been added to the sauce. The sweet flavor of the carrot mixed with the tangy tamarind, a Persian import, and produced the closest example of a sweet-and-sour dish available in Palestinian cuisine. As I savored the delicious taste of the stuffed carrots swimming in the gleaming crimson sauce peppered with mint, I marveled at the mix of influences from around the Middle East that produced this special dish.

    • Joumana says:

      @Lybian food: Thanks so much for your contribution; once I am in Lebanon in a few weeks, I will investigate this even further! 🙂

  35. Kieran (UK) says:

    Great dish! I’ve been searching for ages for the tools to core carrots and other narrow veg – what are they called and where can I get them?

  36. Faiz says:

    It’s a Palestinian dish i believe. I am Jordanian half Palestinian. And I eat this dish a few times a year when I lived back in Amman. At the moment I live in Canada, an I randomly craved this dish to look for this sweet soury carrot taste and I found this recipe. Defiantly gonna browse through your other posts. Thanx for sharing

  37. Charles Duby says:

    OK, we need a few tips here on using the mankara tool. My carrots mostly seem to split along the sides. Am I not cooking them long enough? The first think I learned is “don’t twist the mankara trying to saw the core out — that really causes the carrot to split”.

    Thanks much.

    • Joumana says:

      @Charles: I had that problem too; the carrots were cooked too long in my opinion; in reality, the carrots should not be cooked at all but I found that to be too hard (and my arm muscles not that strong!). It all depends on the thickness of your carrots, for mine I think 7 minutes was enough; you can pull one of out and test it (from the boiling water); it needs to be still very hard. Let it cool a bit. Hope that helps.

  38. Charles Dubyu says:

    Thank you Joumana

    I also cored some uncooked zucchini and that went much better & easier. The carrots were harder consistency than the zucchini, and I think I will try cooking the carrots a minute or so longer next time. Have not finished preparing the recipe yet but am looking forward to eating it in a bit.

    Thanks again, Charles

    • Joumana says:

      @Charles: yes, the zucchini here is never cored cooked, as well as the other veggies like potatoes turnips carrots etc. my pleasure 🙂

  39. Fadi says:

    The origin is Homs, Syria. Now sadly infamous of course. A lady mentioned correctly that pomegranate molasses is used rather than tamarind, and in that part of Syria you can get even bigger carrots than these, yellowish, but when you cook in the tomato they become orangey similar to your nice picture. A “machine” is used to de-core the carrots at the souk, and you buy them that way bec it’s tough to do at home. You cannot find them in other parts of Syria, although further north you find purple variety.

    My favorite dish of all time and can only be enjoyed in a very short season (a couple of weeks before to a few after Christmas). Wherever I am around the world (never home) my parents make sure I get some every year. 🙂

  40. Jim Katen says:

    Thanks for the recipe, Joumana. And Thanks, Fadi, for your insight about Homs. My father was born there. When I was a child, he used to make stuffed carrots, using the pomegranate molasses as you describe. He had a Homs-style vegetable coring tool that is unlike any that I’ve seen before. It’s a carbon steel spear-shaped knife, sharp on both sides, with each side twisted laterally, so that in section it has an S shape. With this tool, you can core the carrots while still raw. Just insert and spin, while the ground-out core slips out the sides. My mother, whose family was from Tripoli, was unfamiliar with the dish.

  41. Sue says:

    Stuffed carrots is a Palestinian dish; specifically known in Jerusalem only

  42. Kris Omar says:

    It is a Palestinian dish, in the old days, I sat with my mother-in law a few times to core a hundred carrots for a large party. Now, we can find already cored out carrots in the market places in Jericho. Cool trick, if you have an unused sterilized drill, it is a quick way to mass produce the hollowed out carrots.

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