Sheikh Al-Mehshi

December 10th, 2009

Dimah - http://www.orangeblossomwater.net - Sheikh Al-Mehshi 99e

In Syria, there are several stuffed vegetables dishes such as Kousa Mehshi (stuffed vegetable marrow (marrow squash) with meat and rice, and cooked in tomato sauce), Bathenjan Mehshi (similar to kousa mehshi but prepared with eggplants), Yabraq (grape leaves stuffed with meat and rice and cooked in lemon juice sauce) and others.

Today’s post is about Sheikh Al-Mehshi, it is one of the most important dishes in Syria, and considered as the king of stuffed vegetables.

Sheikh Al-Mehshi is prepared from vegetable marrow (marrow squash) stuffed with meat mixed with pine nuts, walnuts and parsley, then deep fried in a mixture of ghee and olive oil, then cooked in sauce.

There are two kinds of Sheikh Al-Mehshi, one is cooked with yogurt sauce and named “Sheik Al-Mehshi Bel-Laban” and the other is cooked with tahini sauce and named “Sheikh Al-Mehshi Bet-Tehineh”. Sheikh Al-Mehshi is served with rice.

Let’s make Sheikh Al-Mehshi:

Before talking about the method of cooking Sheikh Al-Mehshi, I’ll tell you some information about three things.

Dimah - http://www.orangeblossomwater.net - Squash Corer

1. Squash Corer

This utensil is called “Syrian Munara” or “Squash corer”, we use it for “kousa mehshi / stuffed vegetable marrow”, and we will use it here in this recipe.

Dimah - http://www.orangeblossomwater.net - Pot Cover 1

Dimah - http://www.orangeblossomwater.net - Pot Cover 2

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2. Stainless Steel Pot Lid (I will give it the name “Flat Lid”)

This lid is needed for the technique of cooking “Sheikh Al-Mehshi”, anything looks like this lid works fine, just try to find something similar to it but should be stainless steel. I have two sizes a big one and small one as you can see in the picture, I will not use both of them, you will know more in the rest of the post.

Dimah - http://www.orangeblossomwater.net - Yogurt

3. Yogurt

In Syria, we have special yogurt we name it “Laban Arabi” which is made from sheep milk, and we have “Laban Baqari” which is made from cow milk. In cooking, we use only “Laban Arabi” which is from sheep milk. If you want to cook yogurt sauce, and you have yogurt made from cow milk so this yogurt is not from sheep milk i,e not “Laban Arabi”, Please see what will happen during cooking ! Look at these pictures (A, B and C) and read carefully.

Dimah - http://www.orangeblossomwater.net - Laban 1

A. This yogurt is not “Laban Arabi”, when you add it to the pot and turn on heat, and stir it, it curdles and this is not good for making the yogurt sauce.

Dimah - http://www.orangeblossomwater.net - Laban 2

B. This is the same yogurt I used in “A”, but here combine yogurt + cornflour (cornstarch), then turn on heat and stir, so it doesn’t curdle, and that’s what we want for cooking.

Dimah - http://www.orangeblossomwater.net - Laban 3

C. This is “Laban Arabi”, In the pot there is only “Laban Arabi”. Turn on heat and stir, the result that it doesn’t curdle and that’s what we want for cooking.

The conclusion:

If you use “Laban Arabi” which is from sheep milk, you don’t need the cornflour (cornstarch), or any other thing, the yogurt itself is perfect for cooking.

If you use other type of yogurt, you need to add cornflour (cornstarch) to prevent curdling. In picture “B”, I used 3/4 cup yogurt + 1 tsp cornflour (cornstarch).

Let’s make Sheikh Al-Mehshi:

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1, 2. You can see in the picture vegetable marrows (marrow squash), choose vegetable marrows that each approximately 2.5 – 3 inches (6.4 – 7.6 cm) long, then rinse vegetable marrows with water and drain.

3, 4, 5. Cut off the stem of the vegetable marrows as you see in the picture.

6, 7, 8. Use a knife to remove the round caps at the ends of the vegetable marrows as you see in the picture.

9. This is squash corer.

10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. Hollow vegetable marrows from one end with the squash corer leaving about 1/8 inch (0.3 cm) thick shell all around , and be careful to leave one end of vegetable marrow intact, if you don’t have squash corer try to use apple corer.

16. This is the final result.

Sheikh Al-Mehshi 5

17. Set aside.

Sheikh Al-Mehshi 6

18, 19. Prepare pine nuts. Heat 1 tbsp ghee, and add pine nuts until golden brown in color, then remove and drain on paper towel, and set aside.

20, 21. Prepare finely chopped walnuts, after removing the pine nuts from the pan, add walnuts to the same pan, and keep until golden brown in color, then remove and drain on paper towel, and set aside.

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22. Finely chop parsley leaves, and set aside.

23. Heat 1 tbsp ghee.

24. Add ground meat.

25. The meat is cooked.

Sheikh Al-Mehshi 8

26. Add finely chopped parsley, add salt and black pepper (Note the meat should be completely cooked before adding parsley, when you cook meat, there’s water comes from the meat, but this water during cooking evaporates, so once this happen and the meat is completely cooked and no water remains you can add parsley).

27, 28. Add pine nuts and walnuts to meat, stir for few seconds and turn off heat.

29. Filling is ready.

Sheikh Al-Mehshi 9

30. Stuff vegetable marrows with the filling fully to brim.

31. Try to press using your finger inside the vegetable marrow to make sure that it is fully stuffed, and if you pressed with your finger and find that you can add more filling add again and press, but make sure not to break the vegetable marrows.

32, 33. Fully stuffed vegetable marrows (they have to be really fully stuffed, as much as you an).

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34. Stuffed vegetable marrows are ready.

35. Bring a tissue and clean the outside.

36, 37. Ready for frying.

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38. Mix ghee and olive oil, heat, and deep fry the stuffed vegetable marrows.

39, 40, 41. Deep fry until light golden brown in color, then drain on paper towel.

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42. Prepare a large deep pot, and arrange tablespoons on the bottom of the pot (it doesn’t matter how they are arranged, try any way you are comfortable with,  also 3 tablespoons were good for the size of my pot).

43. Add the flat lid over the tablespoons (I used the small pot lid because the size is perfect for my pot). The tablespoons and the pot lid work as a protection for the stuffed vegetable marrows; to prevent the direct contact between the stuffed vegetable marrows and the heat.

44, 45. Arrange the stuffed vegetable marrows, they are 46 pieces. 46 pieces will be cooked in one pot, then they will be divide and cooked in two kind of sauces.

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46. Put a plate over thestuffed vegetable marrows.

47. Add a heavy thing over the plate, this is a piece of marble (actually there is a special tool to be used for mehshi, but mine is broken).

48. Add water and salt to the pot.

49. The water level must be more than the top level of thestuffed vegetable marrows.

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50. Put the pot over high heat uncovered for 10 minutes, then lower the heat.

51, 52. Once the water starts to boil vigorously, remove the heavy piece, but keep the plate.

53. Cover the pot, and leave it over low heat for 30 minutes.

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Yogurt Sauce

54, 55. Meanwhile, In pot, add 2 cups drained yogurt (if you are not using Laban Arabi, you must add cornflour (cornstarch)). And keep stirring (use wooden spoon).

56. The yogurt begins to simmer as in picture 56.

57. Once yogurt begins to simmer, take two cups water from the pot that contains thestuffed vegetable marrows.

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58, 59. Add the water to the yogurt and stir.

60. Yogurt sauce is ready, taste and decide if it needs salt or not.

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61, 62. Take 23 stuffed vegetable marrows from the pot, and add them to the yogurt sauce.

63. Let it boil for 10 minutes over low heat.

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Tahini Sauce.

64. The remainingstuffed vegetable marrows are also 23 , they are still in the pot with the water, these will be used for the other sauce which is tahini sauce, and will be cooked in their pot.

65. Add pomegranate molasses to the remaining stuffed vegetable marrows in the pot, and let it boil for 10 minutes over low heat.

66. After 10 minutes, take water from the pot, and add it to the tahini and mix well.

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67. The tahini mixture is ready.

68, 69. Add tahini mixture to the pot and stir, taste and decide if it needs salt or not, and let it boil for 10 minutes over low heat.

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71. Sheikh Al-Mehshi Bel-Laban,stuffed vegetable marrows in yogurt sauce.

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72. Sheikh Al-Mehshi Bet-Tehineh, stuffed vegetable marrows in tahini sauce.

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Rice

73. Melt 2 tbsp ghee and bring it to high heat, then turn off heat.

74. Rinse rice with cold water in several changes.

75. Bring water to boil.

76. Soak rice in boiled water for 10 minutes.

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77. To ghee, add 4 1/2 cup water, and add salt, then turn on heat and let it boil.

78. Drain rice, then rinse it with cold water in several changes.

79. Once the water is boiling vigorously add rice.

19. Check if the water is good for the rice by this method which is called “Al-Samda” (Read more about Al-Samda in the post Maqloubat Al-Bathenjan), and keep the rice for 5 minutes over high heat so it will boil vigorously, then lower heat and cover pot and keep for 15 – 20 minutes till rice is cooked, when it is completely cooked, turn off heat, stir and serve.

Serve Sheikh Al-Mehshi hot with rice.

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Sheikh Al-Mehshi

From: Family Recipe / Servings: 7 – 8 People
PDF Text Only / Print With Images

46 vegtable marrows,
each approximately
2.5 – 3 inches (6.4 – 7.6 cm) long

Filling

1 tbsp ghee, for nuts

1/3 cup pine nuts

1 cup finely chopped walnuts

2 1/2 cup finely chopped flat parsley leaves

1 tbsp ghee, for meat

1000 g fat free ground lamb meat

Salt

Black pepper

Frying

250 g vegetable ghee

3/4 cup olive oil

Cooking

Water

Salt

Yogurt Sauce

2 cups drained yogurt

2 cups water
(explained in directions about this water)

Salt, if needed

Tahini Sauce

3 tbsp pomegranate molasses

1/2 cup tahini

Water
(explained in directions about this water)

Salt, if needed

Rice

2 tbsp ghee

3 cups Egyptian short grain rice

Boiling water, for soaking rice

4 1/2 cups water

Salt

You can see in the picture vegetable marrows (marrow squash), choose vegetable marrows that each approximately 2.5 – 3 inches (6.4 – 7.6 cm) long, then rinse vegetable marrows with water and drain.

Cut off the stem of the vegetable marrows as you see in the picture.

Use a knife to remove the round caps at the ends of the vegetable marrows as you see in the picture.

This is squash corer.

Hollow the vegetable marrow from one end with the squash corer leaving about 1/8 inch (0.3 cm) thick shell all around , and be careful to leave one end of vegetable marrow intact, if you don’t have squash corer try to use apple corer.

This is the final result.

Set aside.

Prepare pine nuts. Heat 1 tbsp ghee, and add pine nuts until golden brown in color, then remove and drain on paper towel, and set aside.

Prepare finely chopped walnuts, after removing the pine nuts from the pan, add walnuts to the same pan, and keep until golden brown in color, then remove and drain on paper towel, and set aside.

Finely chop parsley leaves, and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp ghee.

Add ground meat.

The meat is cooked.

Add finely chopped parsley, add salt and black pepper (Note the meat should be completely cooked before adding parsley, when you cook meat, there’s water comes from the meat, but this water during cooking evaporates, so once this happen and the meat is completely cooked and no water remains you can add parsley).

Add pine nuts and walnuts to meat, stir for few seconds and turn off heat.

Filling is ready.

Stuff vegetable marrows with the filling fully to brim.

Try to press using your finger inside the vegetable marrow to make sure that it is fully stuffed, and if you pressed with your finger and find that you can add more filling add again and press, but make sure not to break the vegetable marrows.

Fully stuffed vegetable marrows (they have to be really fully stuffed, as much as you an).

Stuffed vegetable marrows are ready.

Bring a tissue and clean the outside.

Ready for frying.

Mix ghee and olive oil, heat, and deep fry the stuffed vegetable marrows.

Deep fry until light golden brown in color, then drain on paper towel.

Prepare a large deep pot, and arrange tablespoons on the bottom of the pot (it doesn’t matter how they are arranged, try any way you are comfortable with, also 3 tablespoons were good for the size of my pot).

Add the flat lid over the tablespoons (I used the small pot lid because the size is perfect for my pot). The tablespoons and the pot lid work as a protection for the stuffed vegetable marrows; to prevent the direct contact between the stuffed vegetable marrows and the heat.

Arrange the stuffed vegetable marrows, they are 46 pieces. 46 pieces will be cooked in one pot, then they will be divide and cooked in two kind of sauces.

Put a plate over the stuffed vegetable marrows.

Add a heavy thing over the plate, this is a piece of marble (actually there is a special too used for mehshi, but mine is broken).

Add water and salt to the pot.

The water level must be more than the top level of the stuffed vegetable marrows.

Put the pot over high heat uncovered for 10 minutes, then lower the heat.

Once the water starts to boil vigorously, remove the heavy piece.

Cover the pot, and leave it over low heat for 30 minutes.

Yogurt Sauce

Meanwhile, In pot, add 2 cups drained yogurt (if you are not using Laban Arabi, you must add cornflour (cornstarch)). And keep stirring (use wooden spoon).

The yogurt begins to simmer as in picture 56.

Once yogurt begins to simmer, take two cups water from the pot that contains the stuffed marrows.

Add the water to the yogurt and stir.

Yogurt sauce is ready, taste and decide if it needs salt or not.

Take 23 stuffed vegetable marrows from the pot, and add them to the yogurt sauce.

Let it boil for about 10 minutes over low heat.It is ready.

Tahini Sauce

The remaining stuffed vegetable marrows are also 23 , they are still in the pot with the water, these will be used for the other sauce which is tahini sauce, and will be cooked in their pot.

Add pomegranate molasses to the remaining stuffed vegetable marrows in the pot, and let it boil for 10 minutes over low heat.

After 10 minutes, take water from the pot, and add it to the tahini and mix well.

The tahini mixture is ready.

Add tahini mixture to the pot and stir, taste and decide if it needs salt or not, and let it boil for 10 minutes over low heat.

Rice

Melt 2 tbsp ghee and bring it to high heat, then turn off heat.

Rinse rice with cold water in several changes.

Bring water to boil.

Soak rice in boiled water for 10 minutes.

To ghee, add 4 1/2 cup water, and add salt, then turn on heat and let it boil.

Drain rice, then rinse it with cold water in several changes.

Once the water is boiling vigorously add rice.

Check if the water is good for the rice by this method which is called “Al-Samda” (Read more about Al-Samda in the post Maqloubat Al-Bathenjan), and keep the rice for 5 minutes over high heat so it will boil vigorously, then lower heat and cover pot and keep for 15 – 20 minutes till rice is cooked. when it is completely cooked, turn off heat, stir and serve.

Serve Sheikh Al-Mehshi hot with rice.

Notes and Tips

If you don’t have “Laban Arabi”, you have to add cornflour (cornstarch) to the yogurt to prevent curdling.

I have a big quantity of yogurt about five kilograms, so I drain all the quantity of yogurt in a cloth to dry (the day before you plan to make Sheikh Al-Mehshi, drain the yogurt), then after all the quantity drained well to dry, I measured 2 cups drained yogurt for cooking yogurt sauce.

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