Friday, 19 August 2011

From Egypt’s Cookbook: Zucchini Stew (Kousa) with Ground Beef

Zucchini, locally called “Kousa”, is commonly found in many Egyptian dishes. This is my favorite Kousa dish, a Zucchini Stew with ground beef. Kousa bil lahma el Mafrouma.

This recipe is very easy to make in big batches, and freezes very well. The added dried chickpeas give it more texture and nuttiness. Make this alongside some rice and you have a complete meal!


- 1 can of chopped tomatoes (or about ½ kilo fresh tomatoes pureed)
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste (optional)
-  1 small onion sliced
- ½ kg Ground beef
- 1 ½ kg zucchini, cut into circles
- 200 gm dried split chickpeas, soaked for 30 mins approx
- 1 large carrot diced
- Salt and black pepper


- Brown the meat in a tablespoon of oil
- Add in the garlic, onion, pepper and salt, mix with the meat and cook until fragrant
- Add in the crushed tomatoes, then add the vegetables (zucchini, carrots and chickpeas).
- Pour about 2 cups of water and the tomato paste (optional) and allow to cook on med/high heat for 45 mins.


Are you a Zucchini lover? Or do you avoid it like the plague? 

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Ramadan thirst quencher: Karkadeh (Hibiscus Drink)

The holy month of Ramadan is one of the most magical times of the year, especially if you live in Cairo. Family, friends, good food and spiritually are a few words that come to mind when I think of Ramadan.

This year Ramadan falls in August, one of the hottest months in Egypt. Going without food or drink from dawn until sunset, one must make sure to hydrate well when breaking fast. One famous Egyptian drink, commonly served in Ramadan is Karkadeh, or Hibiscus. This drink is either made as a tea, or cold like a punch.

Karkadeh is hands down my favorite drink during Ramadan, and especially this year with the temperature reaching all time highs.  The tartness reminds me of Cranberry juice, and it is so easy to make. I suggest preparing it in large quantities and just keeping in the fridge. Be careful though, as the deep red pigment may stain some surfaces.  


½ cup dry Karkadeh leaves
6 cups water (enough to fill a pitcher)
6 Tbsp sugar


Boil the water, take off the heat, add in the sugar and mix to dissolve.

Add in the Karkadeh leaves, and stir. Allow to cool, then refrigerate.

I like to keep the leaves in, then pour through a strainer when serving. You may opt to strain them before refrigerating. In that case, allow the leaves to soak for at least 30 mins before removing.

You can always add more water if it becomes too strong.

This sugar content is how I like it, tart. If you prefer sweet drinks, I suggest you taste while hot to check.

What is your favorite Ramadan drink or summer thirst quencher?