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Kousa Mahshi, A Taste Bud's Awakening Dish

posted on: Nov 3, 2021

A mixture of spiced meat and rice, simmered in a rich tomato broth, Kousa Mahshi on Arab America Menu.

By: Isra Saleh / Arab America Contributing Writer

The origin of Mahshi can be traced to Syria, although the exact origin is unknown. Legend has it that ‘Mahashi’ Arabic for ‘stuffed. Some go further in history to claim Mahashi as part of Ancient Greek cuisine. The dispute over the ownership of this delicious all-in-one dish perpetuates. Although very few would dispute the beautiful subtle flavors of ‘kousa Mahshi’ – stuffed squash.

Perhaps it is safe to say that Arabs like their vegetables stuffed. It was found in Medieval Arabic cookbooks that Arabs stuffed zucchini, eggplants, carrots, onions, cabbage, grape leaves, potatoes, tomatoes, you name it!

They use a special tool to core squash, where you can purchase from Middle Eastern stores.

So, is it going to be Kousa Mahshi for dinner tonight? Here is just the right Kousa Mahshi recipe that serves 8 people. Yalla, invite friends and family to the stuffed feast!  

Recipe for Kousa Mahshi


  • 16 small green squash, about 5 inches long
  • 1 lb ground lamb or beef
  • 1 cup rice, rinsed
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 cups tomato juice mixed with 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Cut off stem ends of squash and reserve, then core squash. Set aside pulp to cook separately often sautéed in olive oil with onions and garlic and eat with bread.

Combine remaining ingredients, except the tomato juice, to make stuffing.

Stuff squash, then close with inverted stem ends. Arrange tightly in a saucepan, then place inverted plate on top. Add tomato juice and enough water to cover plate, then bring to boil. Cover saucepan, then cook over medium heat for 1 hour. Serve hot.


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