Mahshi batinjan Stuffed Eggplants One of My Favorites

Mahshi batinjan ala libo, is one of my favorites amongst the mahshi family. Mahshi which means stuffed, an Arabic word for so many different variations of stuffed vegetables. Within the Palestinian cuisine, there are a large variety of vegetables that can be used for stuffing. Stuffing often consists of rice, meat, and spices or can be vegan, with just rice and vegetables. Zucchinis and eggplants are some of the most popular vegetables to be stuffed.

Mahshi Batinjan (eggplant mahshi)

When stuffing, we tend to look for the smaller sizes of vegetables. Here I have a mix of eggplants and Middle Eastern squash (zucchini) koussa.

Not only do we have a variety of stuffed vegetables, but also use different methods of how we cook them. Some are cooked in yogurt sauce (stuffed Zucchini in Yogurt), some in tomato sauce, and some just in plain water with the stuffing of the vegetable itself. This is what I’m doing in this recipe, and that’s why this dish is called ala libo. Libo means the inside stuffing of the eggplants.

How to make mahshi batinjan.

Mahshi Batinjan (eggplant mahshi)

The first step and perhaps the most time consuming part is hollowing out the eggplants. First, wash all eggplants and zucchinis well, with a knife start by taking the top stem out. With a manakra (corer) gently start by taking out the insides of the eggplant to make space for stuffing, make sure not to poke the bottom. Gently roll in the manakra, start with a little cut and slowly pick at it. Round it until you make enough space, continue the process until all eggplants are done.

This is an important step during this process to make sure you have a pot full of water to keep the stuffing and the cored eggplants (which will be used later) in the water to maintain their fresh white color. We will be using eggplants stuffing only. The zucchini stuffing can be cooked separately, sautéed with onions so it’s not wasted but not to include in this dish.

Make sure to remove the stems around the eggplants after hollowing, that will help keep the top hold better during the coring process.

For hollowing the zucchinis follow the same steps, just make sure to cut out the stem from top and bottom as well. The difference is that zucchinis take less carving so make sure not to make them too thin as they won’t hold well while cooking, unlike eggplants’ skin which needs a bit more hollowing.

Stuffing

Once coring is complete we need to start with the stuffing. Mix the rice, ground beef or lamb, salt, oil, and spices. Minced meat is usually used for mahshi, but since it’s not available at the average grocery store, and can be time consuming to prepare at home. Unlike in Palestine where you can get it from the butcher. So the easy alternative is to use ground meat, which is a time savior, and the dish will taste just as good.

Next we start stuffing, take a small amount with your hand and insert inside the eggplants, keep filling them but make sure the eggplants are not too full, try not to push too much of the stuffing. Stuff loseley since the rice is uncooked and needs some space, if it’s too full it may burst during cooking. Fill up about ¾ of each.

Mahshi Batinjan (eggplant mahshi)

Follow the same steps for stuffing zucchinis.

Cooking

To prepare for cooking, take the stuffing out of the water. With your hands squeeze well to get rid of all water. Mix with chopped tomatoes, sprinkle some salt, and place half of it at the bottom of a large pot. Fill the pot up with the all the stuffed eggplants and zucchinis. Spread the rest of the stuffing with the tomatoes mixture on top. Sprinkle salt and allspice on top.

Place the pot on high heat and fill it with ¾ of way with water. Once it starts boiling cover with lid and turn the heat on low. Cook for about an hour and a half, you can test for doneness with a fork. Make sure the rice is well cooked from the inside. Water should not fully evaporate, but if there is still a lot of water after an hour, you can uncover and simmer on low for another 30 minutes.

As for the exact ingredients in terms of rice and meat, it may be hard to be exact. it will be hard to examine the size of each vegetable and how much stuffing it will require. So if you end with some extra stuffing, you can curve some tomatoes or bell pepper. It usually adds an extra flavor to the dish. So nothing goes to waste. That’s what I had here with the extra stuffing.

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Mahshi Batinjan eggplant mahshi

Mahshi batinjan (stuffed eggplants)

  • Author: Wafa Shami
  • Prep Time: 60 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Category: Entree

Description

Mahshi batinjan ala libo, is one of my most favorite amongst the mahshi family. Mahshi which means stuffed, an Arabic word for so many different variations of stuffed vegetables. Within the Palestinian cuisine, there is a big variety of vegetables which is used for stuffing. The stuffing often consists of rice, meat, and spices or can be also vegan, with just rice and vegetables. Zucchinis and eggplants are one of the most popular.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 12 eggplants, 8 zucchinis.
  • 3/4 pound ground meat (beef or lamb)
  • 1 cup rice (uncooked and soaked with water for 10 minutes) Cal Rose or Egyptian rice
  • 1 teaspoon allspice (most for the stuffing and a sprinkle for cooking the dish)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 45 small fresh tomatoes cut into cubes.

 


Instructions

  1. Wash all well and rinse from water, with a knife start by taking the top stem out. With a manakra (corer) gently start by taking out the insides of the eggplant to make space for stuffing, make sure not to poke the bottom, gently roll in the manakra and start with a little cut and slowly pick at it, round it until you make enough space, continue the process until all eggplants are done. Make sure not to make the zucchinis too thin, so they won’t break during cooking.
  2. Have a pot full of water, and keep the stuffing and the cored eggplants (which will be used later) in the water to maintain the white color of the eggplants.
  3. For the zucchinis follow the same steps, just make sure to cut out the stem from top and bottom as well, the difference is that zucchinis take less curving so make sure not to make them too thin as they won’t hold well while cooking, unlike eggplants skin which needs a bit of more coring.
  4. For stuffing mix the rice, ground beef or lamb, salt, oil, and spices. Take a small amount with your hand and insert inside the eggplants, keep filling them but make sure the eggplants are not too full, try not to push too much of the stuffing, just gently stuff it in, because rice is uncooked and needs some space, if too full it may break during cooking. Fill up about ¾ of each.
  5. To prepare for cooking, take the stuffing out of the water, with your hands squeeze well to get rid of the water, mix with chopped tomatoes, sprinkle some salt, and place half of it at the bottom of a large pot, then fill the pot up with the all the stuffed eggplants and zucchinis. Spread the rest of the stuffing with the tomatoes mixture on top. Sprinkle some salt and allspice.
  6. Place the pot on high heat, fill it with ¾ of boiled water. Once it starts boiling cover and turn the heat on low. Let it cook for an hour to an hour and a half. You can test it with a fork, also make sure the rice is well cooked from the inside.

 


Notes

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Mahshi is served next to plain yogurt or basic salad.

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