This one was very difficult to write. I’ve made Koussa dozens of times but every time I made it, the weights were wrong and I’d end up with heaps of filling left over. I believe I’ve got it right this time.
Koussa Ma’hshi is a family favourite. Growing up it was always served with vineleaves stuffed with the same filling. Mum would make the filling and stuff the zucchini while I rolled the vineleaves.
There was never a shortage of vineleaves thanks to the vine in mum and dad’s backyard. All spring and summer you could find us outside picking the leaves, laying them flat on top of each other and storing them in the freezer. Things haven’t changed much over the years either, except now you’ll also find my husband outside picking them as well.
During summer the vine covers alot of the yard and provides a wonderful canopy. Perfect place for barbecue lunches.
We use a tool called a manakra which is a kind of long thin apple corer to hollow out the zucchini. You’ll find a manakra in most Middle Eastern food stores. I’ve seen it written that you can core the zucchini with the handle of a long spoon, but I’ve yet to try it.
For this dish you’ll need:- 8 medium (10 – 15 cm long) Lebanese zucchini
4 large cloves garlic – finely chopped
1/2 medium brown onion – finely diced
150g long grain rice (rinsed well)
250g canned diced tomato
200g lean beef mince
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp each ground black pepper and ground cinnamon.
juice of 1 large lemon
Cut the stalks off the zucchini. Carefully hollow out the fleshy inside making sure not to poke any holes through the skin. Rinse well with cold water, and allow to drain while you prepare the filling.
In a bowl mix well the garlic, onion, rice, tomato, mince, salt, pepper and cinnamon.
Stuff the zucchinis with the filling, and arrange in a medium saucepan.
Sprinkle a little salt over the zucchini, invert a plate to fit over them and cover completely with water.
Cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 45 – 50 minutes or until the zucchini are tender.
Serve warm with a little of the cooking liquid and some lemon juice.