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 Ma'ashi (Stuffed Vegetables)

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Misr_is_Love
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PostSubject: Ma'ashi (Stuffed Vegetables)   Mon Aug 29, 2011 7:32 pm

One of the most interesting Egyptian meals I have ever eaten is ma'ashi. This is a rice mixture that is either stuffed inside hollowed out vegetables or wrapped up in leafy ones.

There are three different steps to this meal. The first step is to boil beef. To do this, you will need:

- 1 lb. beef (cut into small squares)
- 1 yellow onion (cut into quarters)
- 1 ½ tbsp. salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- ½ tbsp. garlic powder (optional)
- 1 tbsp. cooking oil (I use corn oil)

Now, using a large pot, place the beef inside and fill with water until 2 inches from the top of the pot. Add all of the other ingredients, cover, and cook on medium-high for roughly one hour. You will use the soup from the beef to cook the ma’ashi, and of course you can eat the beef with the dinner as well. (If you would prefer to skip this step, you may either create your own broth to use for the ma'ashi, or use water, though the water will not making everything as tasty as it should be)

While the beef is cooking, you can now hollow out your vegetables. You can stuff squash, zucchini, tomatoes, grape leaves, cabbage leaves, or any other leafy veggies or whole veggies that can be hollowed out, that you can think of. Grape leaves have a very strong flavor. My favorite thing to use for ma’ashy is cabbage leaves, but I will explain how to hollow the vegetables and how to roll the leaves.

First, we’ll discuss hollowing out the vegetables. I will use squash as an example. While it may seem like a good idea to get fatter squash, it actually makes it difficult for the rice to cook inside of it, so getting skinnier squash is a better idea. If the squash is long, you can cut it in half and use both ends. When cutting your squash though, make sure that they are not taller than the pot that you are going to use, as you will need to cover the pot to cook the ma’ashy with steam and your stuffed squash will cook standing up. To hollow out the squash, simply take one half of the squash and, with a knife, start cutting in a circular motion, leaving about ¼ inch around the outside. With squash, you can actually feel how the center is sponge-like, making it easier to dig out. With your knife, continue hollowing out the squash (using the back side of the knife to smooth out the edges). Make sure not to cut through the bottom of your squash. If you accidently stab through your squash on the sides while trying to hollow it out, this is alright. As long as the slit is thin, and looks like it will close in on itself when cooked, it will not be a problem. Continue doing this for all of the veggies that you want to hollow out. (This amount of rice will make roughly 6-7 whole squash)



Now, you can also use leafy vegetables and roll the rice mixture inside of it. If you are using leaves that are already soft, you don’t need to do any preparing. However, if you would like to use cabbage, it needs to be softened first, in order to roll it. To do this, get an empty pot and fill it with water. Bring the water to a boil, and dip one leaf of the cabbage into the boiling water at a time. Leave each leaf in the boiling water for 2-3 seconds, or until flexible, and then set aside. Once you have your leafy vegetables and/or your hollowed vegetables prepared, set them aside.

The next step is to make the rice mixture. There are a few things that you will need to do this. They are:

2 cups of uncooked rice
1/2 yellow onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
¾ cups of tomato sauce
1/4 cup of dill (finely chopped)
1/2 tbsp. cilantro (finely chopped)
1/2 tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. pepper
1 tbsp. salt
3 tsbp. melted butter/margarine
¼ cup water

Mix together all of these ingredients, and you will be ready to fill the vegetables. This will feed 2-3 people (in Egyptian portions) or 3-4 people (in American portions).

If stuffing hollowed vegetables, drop enough rice mixture into your vegetables to fill it to just below the top, but make sure not to pat down. Remember, the rice will expand when cooked, so you need to make sure to drop the rice inside of the vegetables, don’t push it in. This should allow for the needed space for the rice to expand.

If rolling your rice mixture inside of leafy vegetables, place one leaf on a surface, put enough rice on one side of the leaf in a straight line reaching from one end of that side of the leaf to another, about as thick as a pencil (leaving a bit of space on each end). Now, take the sides and fold them in like you’re rolling up a burrito, and roll the leafy vegetable, until the rice is no longer exposed. If you would like, save two or three leaves to use to cover the bottom of the pot, so the vegetables for the ma’ashy will not burn.

Now, place your extra vegetable leaves (if desired) on the bottom of the pot and then place your stuffed vegetables into a pot (the hollowed veggies standing straight up, and the rolled veggies laying on their sides). After the beef has cooked for one hour (or one hour and a half for very tender beef), pour about 2-3 inches of the soup from the beef into the pot with the ma’ashy. It’s alright if some of the water goes into vegetables, and some people prefer to pour some of the water into the vegetables deliberately for better flavor, but it is optional (there should be enough liquid to cook the rice in the rice mixture itself). Cover the pot with the ma’ashy, and bring the soup to a boil. Once it begins boiling, turn the heat down to low, and let it sit for 20-30 minutes, or until the rice is tender.



To remove the ma’ashy from the pot, it is helpful to use two forks or spoons to slowly wiggle them away from each other.

Note: The ma’ashy does not have to be cooked with beef soup. It may be cooked using only water, but many Egyptians prefer to use the soup, because it adds flavor to the ma’ashy. If you choose to use the soup, you may serve the ma’ashy with the beef. Many Egyptians would also serve the ma’ashy with salad (consisting of any variety of the following: chopped tomatoes, green pepper, cilantro, cucumber, salt and pepper).



Enjoy! And, if you try this recipe, let me know what you think!

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