|Delicious rice stuffed Zucchini and Eggplant|
Right up there with Kofta, Oriental Rice [Roz bil Khalta], and Lentil soup, is Mahshy as a traditional Egyptian meal. This stuffed vegetable dish, is known through out the world, and each country has its version. The wrapped vine leaves are also popular in Greece, for example.
Other than vine and cabbage leaves, the traditional vegetables used are Zucchini, which is an Egyptian favorite to use in many dishes, eggplant, and the less used green pepper and tomatoes. I like to put one or two green peppers because it makes the dish so fragrant. I am also not partial to the tomatoes however, so I make those on demand only!
When I was little, my memories of mahshy are somewhat painful. Usually made for dinner parties, (and we would have dinner parties with 20, 30, or 40 people at once) we would spend about 2 days cooking, one full day just washing, coring and stuffing the veggies, or in my case, rolling the vine and cabbage leaves. Now this was a tedious process, and as an impatient kid, it was as boring as it gets. Properly stuffed mahshy leaves should be delicate, small, and tightly wrapped. But that would take forever. I remember one incident when in an effort to finish the huge pot of rice, and mounds of leaves, I added more than the teaspoon amount into them. Then I kept adding, until I finished all the rice and the leaves. My mother, who of course was already busy with other preparations, was furious at my huge mahshy 'balls'. When the people arrived, and the mahshy was served, they dubbed them little bombs from how big they came out. Well, they tasted just as good anyway!
I personally, have given up on the hours upon hours of wrapping vine leaves (I have always preferred zucchini anyway), and have taken to stuffing vegetables instead.
The ratios of the meat to rice depend on what you like, some people prefer not to include meat at all.
If you have leftover raw rice mixture, you can freeze it raw, and use it for a impromptu dinner party.
The fresh herbs are essential to give it that 'mahshy' taste, so try to get them fresh if possible!
2 kgs of vegetables (a mix between the long thin eggplants, both black and white, Zucchini, green bell peppers, and tomatoes if you like)
2 cups of white short grain rice
1/2 kg of ground beef
1 large onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup chopped fresh dill
2 tomatoes, diced
3 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups of water or any stock
- Wash, and core your vegetables. Be sure not to pierce them or bruise them.
- With a thin knife, poke the bottom of your veggies. [not a large hole, just a small score] This allows for the rice to cook through, and prevents the rice at the bottom of being undercooked
- In a pot, sautee the meat until almost done and add in the onion and garlic. Allow to become translucent. Add in the 2 diced tomatoes, and the chopped herbs. Add in the salt, pepper, and tomato paste. Add in the washed raw rice. Set aside to cool.
- Using your fingers, stuff the vegetables and leave about 1/2 cm on the top un-stuffed. The rice will expand and will over flow.
- Using a big pot, arrange your vegetables on their side, or rice side up. A trick I do here to prevent them from burning, is before adding in the veggies, I put a layer of sliced onion rings, and tomatoes, to make a 'bed'. This case if the water finishes too fast and you don't notice, you don't scorch your veggies, and your dinner party is saved! Also, you can split the amount into two smaller pots.
- Bring your water/ stock to a boil, then pour into the pot with the veggies. Put on a low heat and cover. It takes about an hour, or depends on your pot size. Mahshy is ready once the rice is cooked through.
What traditional Egyptian dish is time consuming but oh-so worth it for you?