I was in the mood for some koossa Mehche …We used to have it once a week, either in tomato sauce or in laban (yogurt sauce). Those were the days…comforting and homey food. The neighborhood’s middle-eastern grocery sells Mexican zucchini and these will have to do. In Lebanon, the zucchini are tiny, no more than 3 inches long, and so sweet and flavorful! That is practically all we eat in the summer, like candy. So this is koossa mehche b’laban or stuffed zucchini with yogurt sauce. Absolutely divine! The dish can be produced in stages over 2 days, cooking the zucchini one day, and cooking the sauce the next.
This is the tool used to core the zucchinis aka koossa in Lebanon. It is called a mankara in Lebanese (pronounced mann-‘ara). In the US, it is sold in all Middle-Eastern grocery stores.
Zucchini stuffed with lamb (Koossa Mehchi)Joumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern November 11, 2015 Main Dish, Meats, traditional, rice, stuffed veggie, zucchini, yogurt, ground meat,
Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
15 pieces zucchinis thin preferably
1/2 pound ground lamb or beef or veal
1/2 cup sushi or medium-grain rice or Italian arborio or turkish or Egyptian (soaked for 20 minutes then drained)
2 tbsp mashed garlic or 8 garlic cloves, mashed with 2 tsp salt, divided (half for the stuffing and the other for the mint pesto)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt to taste (to taste, there is salt in garlic already)
1/2 tsp black pepper or other pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp cornstarch, diluted in 1/2 cup water
2 14-oz yogurt full-fat preferably
2 tbsp crumbled dried mint
1/3 cup olive oil extra virgin
1. Gently wash and dry the zucchini. Place them in a bowl and have another (smaller) bowl handy. Cut off both ends of the zucchini (the head and the lower tip). Core them gently, removing the pulp and placing it in the smaller bowl. Try not to break the shell of the zucchini. Cover the bowl containing the zucchini pulp and set it aside to use later for making fritters (recipe follows).
2. Get the stuffing ready: combine the ground meat with the rice and mashed garlic and spices.
3. Fill the zucchinis with the stuffing until the stuffing is within half an inch of the top; this is to allow some room for the rice to expand. Place the zucchinis in a pot and cover them with cold water; place a heavy plate over them to hold them down. Cook on top of the stove till the liquid simmers gently for about 45 minutes to one hour or until the stuffing has expanded and is cooked.
3.Transfer the yogurt to a large saucepan, add the egg and cornstarch mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon under medium to low heat in the same direction until the yogurt mixture starts steaming, about 15 minutes. When the zucchinis are cooked in the broth, drain them the excess broth (saving it for a soup), and add the yogurt sauce to the pot.
4. Before serving, fry the remaining mashed garlic in olive oil in a small skillet without letting it color, then add the dried mint and mix it until the fragrance is released (a couple seconds). Stir this mint pesto into the yogurt for a delicious flavor at serving time.
Cooking class in Deir el Qamar with the owners of Sassool from Raleigh, North Carolina.
Here is the other way to prepare this dish, smothered in a tomato sauce.
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