When Otis is at preschool and Rupert is napping, Mama and I Love to pass the time watching Arabic cooking videos with a cup of string coffee in hand. These Arabic recipe videos aren’t the trendy, neat ones that you see going viral on social media, but long, unedited, detailed, raw and delicious. We sit for ages discussing with surprise the ingredients, or saying what we would do differently and deciding if we could manage to make it for supper if I run out to the shops right now! These videos get hundreds of comments on them- almost every single one about how someone’s mother did it just like that or just a bit differently- hundreds of Arab women from around the world remembering their mother and grandmothers through these wonderful videos. this really made me think about the important that we women play in the cultural heritage of our countries. Especially us who fight everyday to justify our existence and maintain our identity in spite of occupation, war and displacement.
Mahshi is one of those recipes for me. There are so many mahshi recipes on our blog. I think this one is the best one. It uses Egyptian or Arborio rice instead of the usual basmati that we always used to use, giving a full soft, delicious flavour really absorbing the meat and juices of the dish. We have been developing and perfecting this recipe with weekly trials as our local grocer has started stocking the most perfect courgettes and aubergines and we are getting our fill now in case he stops!
This dish is certainly a labour of love, but it’s also simpler than it looks- the main work is in the coring the vegetables but once that is done, the rest is easy and quick and not very hands on. I must admit that the coring usually falls to Mama who sits and gets through it so diligently and (mostly!) without complaint while I do preschool drop off, feed the baby, nip to the shops and generally avoid the hard work; we have agreed that I’ll be doing the next one though.
We cook this for a special weekend meal on its own or as a side to some good slow cooked meat when we have guests for the weekend. I hope you have string arms, as once you make this you’ll be doing it again and again!
10-15 small grey courgettes
10-15 small aubergines
500g Egyptian or Arborio rice
500g ground beef
¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp mixed spice
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp tomato puree
1.5 ltrs water
Pinch of salt
A few glugs of olive oil
mix together all the ingredients for the stuffing and leave for the flavours to infuse
core out the courgettes and the aubergines so that they are as thin as possible without breaking through the skin. As you core each one, place in a large pot filled with cold salty water
once they are all cored, empty of the water and pat dry with some kitchen paper
fill each vegetable with the stuffing mixture until its half full then place in a sauce pan
when all the vegetables and stuffed and in the pan, mix together the tomato puree and water and pour over. You want the water to come to about a thumb below where the vegetables reach
drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the vegetables and they weigh down with a smaller saucepan lid or a heat-resistant side plate. Then cover with the saucepan lid for the pan you have used.
put on the hob on a high heat until the water is boiling, then reduce to a very low heat and let cook for 2 hours.
Eat hot with good quality yoghurt and salata arabia.