Koussa mahshi

Koussa mahshi

New Middle Eastern Food
6 as part of a mezze selection
Mark Roper

This is one of the most popular home-cooked Lebanese family meals. Ideally choose those pretty pale green, squat, bulbous zucchini stocked by European and Middle Eastern greengrocers in summer, as they are easy to hollow out. Baby marrows work well too. Regular, long zucchini require a little more patience and a long thin knife (like a fish filleting knife) to scrape out the insides, while maintaining the whole long shape of the vegetable. Koussa makes a simple supper dish, served with thick creamy yoghurt.


Quantity Ingredient
8 pale green oval zucchini or baby marrows


Quantity Ingredient
250g minced lamb
125g long-grain rice
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup water


Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
400g can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
400ml water
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Trim off the zucchini at the narrow end. With a melon baller, apple corer or a long, thin knife, carefully hollow out the insides of each zucchini. The idea is to have as thin a shell as possible, but without piercing the skin. Reserve the pulp for the sauce.
  2. To make the stuffing, use wet hands to mix the lamb, rice, spices, salt, extra-virgin olive oil and water. Divide the mixture into eight portions and loosely stuff each zucchini about three-quarters full, which leaves space for expansion during cooking.
  3. To make the sauce, melt the butter with the oil and gently sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, until it is soft and translucent. Then add the garlic and mint. Cook for a few more minutes, then add the roughly chopped zucchini pulp, followed by the tomatoes, tomato paste and water. Season with salt, pepper and cinnamon. Stir well.
  4. Place the zucchini in the sauce and bring to the boil. Then cover and simmer over a low heat for 40–45 minutes. About 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the lid and increase the heat to reduce the sauce by a quarter.
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