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.
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
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.
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.