Remember the scene in Ratatouille (the movie) when Anton Ego takes a bite of ratatouille (the dish) and is transported back to his childhood? Mehshi Koussa offers a similar nostalgic experience for all Lebanese people.
Mehshi Koussa, or stuffed zucchini, holds the holy trinity of comfort with its tomato sauce, stuffing of rise and minced beef and slow-stewed vegetables.
The most laborious part of this recipe is the preparation involving coring out zucchinis.
While coring out the first handful of zucchinis, the question “Why?” will probably come to mind. After coring through the sixth zucchini, the question “Why?” will still remain, but will be accompanied with an appreciation for all who cored through millions of zucchinis for the satisfaction of the Lebanese folk.
We are a population who intentionally suffers through laborious food preparations and extended political disorder to bring into being glorious food and optimistically a glorious nation.
When you first start your coring journey, one of two incidents may occur. The first is accidentally puncturing the sides of the zucchini with your corer, and the second is having a wide amount of coring towards the top of the zucchini with an un-cored bottom of the zucchini. Practice leads to an evenly cored zucchini from top to bottom.
Because of our pedigree of heterogeneousness, one type of stuffed vegetable will not satisfy. As a result, is very common for Mehshi Koussa to include a stuffed potato, onion and green pepper for diversity’s’ sake.
To momentarily have you experience Mehshi Koussa, think of a lid being pulled off a deep large pot. The steam from within billows over to reveal a tomato-based Jacuzzi filled with stuffed zucchini and potatoes boiling away. A couple of each is placed on your plate with a side of yogurt. The soft zucchini quickly melts in your mouth with your first bite while the starchy stuffing provides a chewy resistance. The deep tones of the dish are contrasted with the cold and zesty yogurt.
Glorious it is.
1. 12 Medium sized zucchinis (small, light green courgette as per photo)
2. 1 Large white onion
3. 3 Medium sized potatoes
4. 1 table spoon salt
5. ½ Cup Rice
6. 200g Minced Meat (Cow)
7. 1 Large Tomato Diced
8. 1 tsp Salt
9. 1 tsp All Spice Pepper
10. 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
11. ½ tsb butter
12. 6 Large Tomatoes
13. 1tbs Tomato Paste
14. 1 tsp Sugar
15. ¼ Cup Water
CORING OF VEGETABLES:
· Cut the heads off zucchini
· Pat the salt down on a napkin
· Stamp the cut zucchini on the salt
· Repeat for all
· Hold one zucchini in the palm of your hand with the salted cut side facing you
· Put the zucchini corer in the middle of the cut side, pierce and push it through half the zucchini
· Twist the corer and bring out the inside of the zucchini (Click here for corer)
· Repeat until evenly cored. Some grocery stores such as Lifco have some already cored. (Click for video)
Potato and Onion
· Cut the top part of the vegetable to produce and even surface to core
· Core as per the above
· In a large bowl add the minced beef, rice, tomatoes, salt, pepper, cinnamon and butter and mix/combine well
· Stuff each of the vegetables 90% full (When the stuffing is cooked it expands)
· Place a large stand-alone cheese grater into a large bowl and grate 6 large tomatoes.
· Once done set the grater aside
· Add the tomato paste, sugar and water to the tomato sauce and mix
· In a large deep cooking pot, add the stuffed vegetables and tomato sauce
· Close the lid and cook for 40 minutes of medium high heat
· After 40 minutes pierce one of the potatoes to make sure they are cooked
· Serve hot with a spoonful of yogurt on the side
Location: United Arab Emirates