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Monday, 23 July 2012

Kusa Mukhshi or Ablama (Meat Stuffed Zucchini in Yoghurt Sauce)

Kusa Mukhshi - Meat Stuffed Zucchini in Yoghurt Sauce
"Never be afraid to try, remember, Amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic!"
                                                                                                               - Unknown Author

How cool is that quote? I love it! I thought this quote is especially good for posting on this blog, because most of the time it is our fear that we don't know enough which stops us from doing. If only we realise that we are all beginners at some point and only through practice and perseverance that we become experienced. If we don't start simply because we don't know enough, then no one would ever get anywhere. The same applies to cooking. We all have to start somewhere, then it is up to us how far we want to go. If you like good food, you are bound to start cooking good food. If food is a chore or a part of life you dislike (don't gasp, some people look at food that way! I know how can anyone?! But hey!) then you are never gonna go anywhere in the kitchen except grab that paper bag and anxiously breath every time you step into one!

As per request, comes this super delicious recipe from Palestinian cuisine. Stuffed vegetables are a Middle Eastern, Levantine and Palestinian cuisine specialty. Similar recipes will be found in Lebanese, Syrian and Jordanian cuisines. But then again all the countries in the levant share a very similar cuisine. From techniques to applications, they are almost the same. A little bit of difference can be found in the spices and aromatics, sauces...and so on.
This particular dish was one of the very few foods I did not like as a child! I don't know what about the combination did not appeal to my very inexperienced and young palate. But as I grew older, I grew fonder of this amazing ballad of flavours. The meat stuffing, the zucchini case and the yoghurt sauce... creamy, savoury, with slight crunch from the nuts and smoothness from the soft zucchini skin that just keeps your palate begging for more.

This stuffed zucchini dish is best served with Vermicelli Rice (Regular cooked rice with browned Vermicelli pasta). It is a delicious Iftar option that your family will enjoy. I would expect the little ones to need a bit of getting used to the taste before they jump up and down in excitement lol

Yogurt is a global health craze at the moment! It’s like people have just discovered this amazing, delicious and absolutely good for you ingredient! This is a very traditional ages old Levantine recipe that is yogurt-based and always a crowd pleaser. Those who know it always appreciate having it and those who don’t are in for a very pleasant experience.
Don’t let the whole coring business put you off trying this recipe! Come’on people reached Mars and coring is not really that complex! 
 Core each kusa  using a corer (similar to the pumpkin corer but much narrower) to create a wide enough cavity for the filling. To core, you just need to place the corer in the middle of the top part (where the cap used to be) and gently rotate the kusa around the corer pulling out the flesh regularly. Repeat until the cavity is wide enough to encase the filling.
Here is how it's made...

Ramadan Recipe 5
Kusa Mukhshi
You Need
1 Kg small zucchinis
1  1/2  Kg yogurt
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp dried mint leaves
Salt and black pepper
1 ltr chicken broth
3 tbsp corn starch
Vegetable oil for deep frying the stuffed zucchinis
A side of Vermicelli Rice

For Meat Stuffing
1Kg minced lamb or beef 
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large onion, finely chopped 
3 tbsp chopped parsley (optional)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted 
1 tsp allspice
1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar 
 Salt and black pepper to taste
a dash of olive oil

Make the Stuffing
In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil together with chopped onion and crushed garlic. Gently soften without browning. Add minced meat, and stir slightly. Season with salt, black pepper and spices and stir all to coat. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and cook stirring until all liquid runs out.  Remove from heat. Add toasted pine nuts, chopped parsley and stir to mix. Set aside to cool slightly. Stuffing is now ready to use.

Core the zucchinis. Fill the cored zucchinis with the prepared meat stuffing.
Heat vegetable oil and fry the stuffed zucchinis until slightly golden and the skin appear wrinkled. Remove from frying oil and drain on kitchen paper towels. Set aside.

Fried Meat Stuffed Zucchinis
In the meantime, place the broth in your cooking pot over the heat to warm. While the broth is warming up, make the yogurt sauce. Place the yoghurt, dried mint, corn starch, salt and black pepper as well as garlic cloves in the blender and blend until all is well incorporated.

Pour the yogurt mixture onto the warmed broth and stir to combine. Continue stirring on medium heat until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Add the fried Kusa and cook all on low heat for 10 minutes, until the flavours infuse.

In the Meantime make the Vermicelli Rice. Serve all hot.

Requires a bit of work, but not as hard as it sounds. Worth every drop of extra effort, I hope you will give it a try. Nadia, here you go Kusa Mukhshi bil Laban part of 
Dima's Kitchen Blog's Ramadan Special: Daily Recipes :) 
Let me know how it goes when you make it. See you back here again tomorrow.

Remember to give out Kindness to others this Ramadan
Ramadan Kareem