Kousa Mahshi ~ Stuffed Squash

kousa mahshi 

The last few weeks I have been on a very limiting diet in hopes of helping my inflammatory arthritis. Despite medication I have been getting quite a few inflammation attacks that temporarily disable me. For someone writing a food blog, it’s a bit inconvenient if a hand, arm, foot, knee is dud because:

1. one can’t cook

2. one can’t write about the food they can’t cook.

So, in an effort to find out if the root cause is a food stuff, I have been on a diet. This diet allows me nothing; hence my absence. I only have a couple of more weeks on it but I have been cheating and only because I thought I was going to pass out the other day! I am not allowed to eat grains so it’s been very difficult because I am a rice and bread girl. Today, I really wanted something substantial and it had been so long since I made these addicting stuffed squash, I was craving them.

These kousa mahshi in Arabic, or stuffed squash are Egyptian in origin but are made all over the Arab World. I have always loved Middle Eastern food probably because I have been eating it from a young age. Not only do I have a lot of family in the Middle East but I have many best friends who are Syrian, Palestinian, Egyptian and Lebanese. My best friend in Houston, who is married into a wonderful Syrian family, showed me how to make this dish a long time ago. Since then, I am sure I have made some changes because I don’t even have this recipe written down anywhere. I am sure there are many variations of this dish around because it is so popular, but this is my version and it’s how my children like it.

kousa mahshi




8 small marrows/Mexican squash

1 cup short grain rice

1/4lb/113g ground beef/mince

14.5 oz/397g tinned tomatoes, crushed

1 teaspoon Arabic 7 spice

4 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon dried mint

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Serves 4


Soak the rice in some water in a bowl and put aside.

Peel the squash, lop off the top end and then hollow them out.

I use an apple corer and slowly hollow out the insides. Be careful not to poke through the sides of the squash.

Go slowly and dig out as much as you can. The bigger the hollowed inside, the more you can stuff.

Don’t throw away the innards. You can sauté them and use them as a dip with some fresh garlic and sour cream or mayonnaise.

Drop the hollowed squash into a bowl of cold water as you finish all the rest.

Once the squash have been hollowed out, drain the soaking rice and add the ground beef to the rice.

Add the teaspoon of the Arabic 7 spice, a teaspoon of salt and pepper.

If you don’t have the Arabic 7 spice, add some ground allspice or a smidgen of cinnamon.

Now, stuff the squash. Don’t stuff too tightly. Just tap the squash lightly and fill to the top.

Place in a large pot in a single layer, continue until all squash have been stuffed.

Add the 1/4 cup olive oil to the pot, add the tinned crushed tomatoes, 3 cups of water and the whole garlic cloves.

Add a teaspoon of salt and pepper.

kousa mahshi

Put the pot on med high heat and bring to boil.

Once it comes up to boil, lower the temperature to low and simmer for 45 minutes.

Check at 45 minutes to see if the squash are tender and the rice is cooked through,

if the squash is still firm or the rice is not soft, cook for another 15 minutes.

Check for salt and pepper and add as needed. 

Add the dried mint near the end.

Enjoy with a salad and some pita bread to scoop up the sauce.




I hope you try out this recipe and enjoy it as much as I do.

It’s incredibly simple in preparation but tastes amazing.

I will be plodding along with my diet for a few more weeks, that’s if I don’t pass out first.

I hope you are all having a great holiday season and are baking and cooking up a storm.

All the best for a wonderful holiday to you all.


    • That’s ok Sawsan! Thank you for your support. I learn to live with it, what else can we do right? I have tried the kousa with Laban but never made it.

  1. Salam Nizzi, hope you are feeling better! inshAllah will try out this recipe soon. Is Mexican squash easily available?

  2. awww…i hope you feel better soon. i have been on a strict diet too coz of high cholesterol and it sucks so i know what you must be going through. hang in there 🙂

  3. I’m so sorry to hear about your restrictive diet but I have been seeing a naturopath and he believes many conditions can be greatly improved by changing your diet. He doesn’t eat any dairy or any wheat and has no caffeine or refined sugars. And yes, he’s certainly not overweight and he’s in excellent health. I hope your diet yields the same results xx
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    • Thanks Charlie. I agree with the naturopath but I can’t stick to that kind of diet, I love to try different foods.
      We’ll see how it goes. I am already cheating.

      Nazneen xx

    • Thanks Eva. I am doing better, maybe it’s the diet or maybe it’s just I haven’t been eating anything at all! The Arabic mix contains allspice, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, caraway and nutmeg in various quantities. I just buy the ready mix from the Middle Eastern stores.

    • Thank you GG. I am doing better. Just need to watch how much I eat and what I eat.
      I don’t have too many holiday things to do but I still love this time of the year especially with all the baked goods! I am going crazy watching all the delicious things coming out of the blogs right now.
      Have a great holiday season GG.

    • Thanks Uru. It is inconvenient and it is uncomfortable but I’m ok. I have had it so long now it doesn’t faze me!
      The dinner did make me feel better 🙂

  4. Nazneen, so sorry that you are having flare ups. I can relate a little because I have the other kind of arthritis, not the really bad one. I have tried giving up all flour products and it helped for a few days. But….all the things we love to eat have flour or some form of it.
    I believe I know what “marrows” are. Just some kind of squash? But,
    are “Mexican squash” zucchini? It looks like zucchini in the photos.
    I imagine one could use any long skinny squash.
    I will try this recipe during my Christmas break from school.
    Hope you have not fainted lately. It’s awful to be so weak. You must not let your blood sugar go too low! I have always been told that to maintain decent levels of blood sugar, one has to eat protein. But…I am sure you know that! Good luck!

    • Thank you Caterina. I am doing better and I don’t know if its the diet or just that I am watching what I eat. I think I just need to keep things in moderation and with Thanksgiving and having guests, I must’ve overdid it. I can’t imagine giving up whole sections of the food pyramid, I can’t live like that!