In a few days, we will celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. This is going to be my first Rosh Hashanah on my own away from home, and I’m very excited to be fully in charge of both of the festive dinners that this holiday entails.
On Rosh Hashanah (and many other Jewish holidays) my aunt Tania usually has my whole family over and, by popular demand, always prepares mahshi, a Lebanese dish of zucchini filled with meat and rice, served with a sweet and sour sauce made from tamarind, dried apricots, lemon, and tomatoes. Since this year for the first time I will miss out on the irresistible mahshi my aunt prepares, I have resolved to try my hand at the recipe and I’m pleased to report that it was a success: now we can all – yes, you too! – celebrate Rosh Hashanah in style, the Lebanese way, with a generous helping of mahshi.
This recipe calls for two special ingredients: make sure you procure very small zucchini, and tamarind paste. You can order tamarind paste on Amazon or make it at home starting from the fruit (the little pods you see in the pictures). However, if I were you I would invest some time and money to source ready-made tamarind paste, because trust me the homemade version is a major project. I make all sorts of things at home, but this one is not worth the effort: I tried once and resolved that there is no dish yummy enough to pay you back for the time you would spend peeling and deseeding tamarinds.
Kusa mahshi: Lebanese sweet and sour stuffed zucchini
- 2 kg small zucchini
- 300 g ground beef
- 1/2 glass of rice
- 3 tbsp tamarind paste
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 10 dried apricots
- 10 cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 1 scant teaspoon tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsps salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- extravirgin olive oil
- Wash the zucchini, cut them in half, and then empty them.2 kg small zucchini
- Rinse the rice in cold water, drain it, and mix it in a large bowl with ground beef, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and a teaspoon of oil.300 g ground beef, 1/2 glass of rice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp pepper
- Fill the zucchini with the filling, but do not overdo it, so that the filling will not overflow.
- Put 3 tablespoons of oil on the bottom of a non-stick pan, then gently place the courgettes and dried apricots in it.extravirgin olive oil, 10 dried apricots
- Brown the courgettes for a few minutes over medium heat, then add sugar, tamarind, lemon juice, cherry tomatoes, tomato paste, and salt.3 tbsp tamarind paste, juice of 1 lemon, 2 tbsp sugar, 10 cherry tomatoes, 1 scant teaspoon tomato paste, 2 tsps salt
- Cover the zucchini with plenty of water and bring to a boil. Some people at this point cover the zucchini with a dish, but unless your pot is disproportionately large the zucchini should stay in place, close to each other. When the water boils, lower the heat and let the zucchini cook for an hour and a half, until the sauce has thickened.
If you need a side dish to go with this recipe, I highly recommend simple pilaf rice: it won’t steal the scene and it will complement the dish perfectly.