Lebanese stuffed zucchini and eggplant (kousa wbatenjein mehshe)
The origin of this dish is uncertain, the Turks and Greeks declare ownership as they used lamb instead of beef back then because it was cheaper. Initially it was served to the wealthy and ruling class. With time it became popular in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and more.
This is not a difficult recipe just one that takes a little bit more time but with practice it will be done in no time and it is worth preparing.
Prep. time: one hour
Cooking time: 50 mins
Serves: 5 to 6
8 medium to small zucchinis
8 small eggplants
400 grams ground beef
1 and a half cup of rice
4 medium tomatoes peeled and chopped (one separated for the stuffing)
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. oil or butter
4 to 5 medium cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp dried mint
2 heaped tbsp. tomato paste.
Wash the zucchinis very well then cut off the stems and chop off the small part at the opposite side. Empty out the inside of the zucchini with a tool named ( mankara) by pushing and turning delicately. You keep doing until you get out all the soft part little by little. It should become hollow to a certain extent, around half a centimeter thickness. I will tell you about my trick which I used it when I visited my son in Norway, because I couldn't find such a thing there. You can do it with the handle of a long spoon and it works perfectly as good.
Now wash the zucchinis again after they are hollow using a bowl full of water to clean all the residues. You do the same method for the eggplant except you have to roll each one while pressing at the same time until it becomes softer before you start hollowing.
STUFFING: In a large pan stir fry the meat with a bit of oil, add the washed rice, one peeled and chopped tomato, 2 garlic gloves chopped small, 1 tsp. salt, allspice, paprika and cinnamon then mix well all the ingredients. Now fill each zucchini or eggplant using your hand and fingers to get the filling inside, leaving around 2 cm. by checking with your pinky finger, to let the rice enlarge or you will have a disaster in the pot. If you had left over from the stuffing, roll few grape leaves, tie them together with a thread and drop them with the zucchinis. ( to peel the tomatoes easily drop them in boiled water for few mins. before, it makes the procedure much easier)
In a large cooking pot put the oil, I prefer the butter which gives it a distinguished taste. Add the garlic gloves already crushed with a bit of salt and the mint, stir over low heat for few mins. then add the tomatoes and let it simmer until tender. Now add water, the zucchinis and the eggplants, make sure the water covers them. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce and let it simmer for 20 mins. then add the salt, the tomato paste and keep it for another 10 mins.
this dish is a main course, it is served hot with yogurt on top. I wish you will give it a try because the mixture taste of this dish's tomato sauce with the yogurt is amazing.