Recipe: Kousa Mahshi (Stuffed Zucchini Squash)

I’ve mentioned my good friends’ East Meets West table several times on this blog. One of my favorite Middle Eastern dishes the wife makes is a stuffed zucchini squash called kousa mahshi.

This is what the zucchini squash (kousa) looks like. In Houston, one usually has to drive out to an ethnic grocery store like Phoenicia or Patel Brothers to find them. But I’ve seen them recently stocked at Central Market (labeled ‘calabaza squash’) and bought eight today, intending to make kousa mahshi.

I also invited the husband, who happened to be home alone tonight, over for dinner with our family and learned something new. Most Turkish or Lebanese recipes include a relatively simple stuffing; only in Syria do they add parsley and cilantro and cumin, which is what I did.

Kousa Mahshi (Stuffed Zucchini Squash)


8 kousa (zucchini squash)


1 cup basmati rice, rinsed and drained

1/2 lbs ground beef or lamb

1/2 onion, finely diced

1 handful parsley, finely chopped

1 handful cilantro, finely chopped

1 handful mint, finely chopped (or 1 tsp dried mint)

1 tsp baharat or all spice

1 tsp cumin

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 1/2 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature

2 tbsp olive oil


2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 (15 oz) can low sodium diced tomatoes

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp salt


Finely chopped parsley to garnish

Greek yoghurt sauce (without the sumac)


A. First, make a vase-like container out of each squash to contain the stuffing. Slice off the zucchini squash at the stem and the teeny bit at the bottom. Core the zucchini squash as much as possible without breaking the outer layer. I find an apple corer and a teaspoon useful for this purpose.

Rinse the cored zucchini squash with salt water and leave to dry in a colander, open side down.

B. In a large bowl, mix the stuffing ingredients together using your hand. I find food prep gloves useful for this purpose.

Stuff each zucchini squash to the top, tapping the bottom firmly on the table so that the stuffing settles.

C. In a pot large enough to contain the zucchini squash in a single layer, heat the sauce ingredients together. Arrange the stuffed zucchini squash in the pot. Just cover with water. Bring to a boil then lower the heat. Simmer uncovered for 40 minutes.

(Optional) You can also add any leftover stuffing in.

D. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with Greek yoghurt sauce.
Here is a great video showing you how it’s done.


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