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Kosa bil Leban-Zucchini in Yogurt Sauce Recipe

posted on: May 18, 2022

Kosa bil Leban-Zucchini in Yogurt Sauce Recipe
Kosa bil Leban

By: Malorie Lewis / Arab America Contributing Writer

Kosa Bil Leban translates to zucchini in yogurt! This simple dish begins with small zucchini that are hollowed out and stuffed with a flavor-packed filling of meat and pine nuts. The zucchini are poached in water or fried in oil, drained, and finally simmered for a bit in a delectable garlic yogurt sauce.

This is one of my favorite foods that I had the pleasure of trying while in Lebanon. While visiting last summer, my Syrian friend’s family made this dish, among many others. When I returned home, I decided that I had to try to make it myself, and let me say it is worth the effort!

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 small zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef or lamb 
  • 1 medium onion- diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Yogurt Sauce Ingredients:

  • 3 cups whole milk- plain yogurt
  • 3 garlic cloves- crushed (or to preference I prefer more garlic)
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch 
  • 2 cups water- reserved from zucchini broth

Preparation

Kosa coring tool and guide to coring

First, you will begin by washing and coring the zucchini with this handy tool pictured below. Make sure to remove the stalk from the top and trim the dry spot on the bottom without digging into the skin too much. It is not necessary to empty the kosa as you would with Mashi because a little of the meat gives an amazing flavor to the dish. While coring, be sure to save the filling to make a nice side dish of fritters later on!

Cooking the zucchini:

  1. There are many different ways that this can be done. Personally, I fry them in a pot of oil until they cook, it doesn’t take long. For a healthier alternative, you can bake them or boil them. For this recipe, we will boil them in a large pot for around 20 minutes until it is cooked all the way through
  2. Transfer them to a large colander to drain and cool.
  3. Save 2 to 3 cups of the zucchini water for the yogurt sauce later.

Stuffing Preparation

Heat olive oil in a frying pan with the onions and salt. Stir frequently, cooking until the onions become translucent. Add your meat of choice and spices to the pan. Be sure to constantly stir the meat to avoid burning and to get the meat as crumbly as possible for ideal stuffing. This should take around 10 minutes max.

  1. As a side note, I also like to add a handful or two of pine nuts to the meat mixture to give it a nice flavor. This is optional, of course.

Set the meat mixture aside to cool. After it cools enough to handle, stuff each zucchini to the top and ensure the meat is packed well to avoid emptying into the yogurt.

Yogurt Sauce Preparation

  1. Take a medium-size bowl and add the cornstarch, zucchini broth, crushed garlic, and salt. Allow the cornstarch to dissolve.
  2. In a large saucepan, add the yogurt and begin to warm it over medium heat. As it is heating, be sure to keep stirring it to avoid curdling.
  3. Mix the cornstarch into the yogurt while whisking continuously. This will stabilize the yogurt and keep the mixture from separating.
  4. Carefully place the zucchinis in the yogurt and simmer for around 20 minutes.
  5. In a small pan, toast the pine nuts in olive oil (or ghee my preference for flavor). Top your dish with the nuts and dried mint for a pleasant aesthetic before serving to guests.

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