RECIPE | Lebanese stuffed courgettes (kousa mahshi)

Stuffed with lamb and rice, these baby marrows are simmered in a fragrant tomato sauce spiced with sumac

05 July 2020 - 00:00 By Sophia Lindop
Lebanese stuffed courgettes (kousa mahshi).
Lebanese stuffed courgettes (kousa mahshi).
Image: Hein van Tonder

Stuffed courgettes are a popular dish in Lebanon. "As more and more Lebanese women enter the workforce, time to prepare meals is becoming limited. This is why you can purchase already hollowed-out kousa (courgettes) from supermarkets and souks, explains Cape Town chef Sophia Lindop.

"Lebanese kousa seems to be shorter and much stockier than what we have in SA."

Here, Lindop shares a recipe for stuffed courgettes from her new cookbook, Going Home – Food and Stories from Lebanon, The Land of my Forefathers:

Serves: 6 to 8


250ml (1 cup) Arborio rice

8 medium to large courgettes

Olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled and cut into eighths

2 cloves garlic, peeled

2 x 240 g cans peeled-and-chopped tomato

15ml (1 tbsp) sugar

Salt to season

5ml (1 tsp) sumac (a Middle Eastern spice)

250g minced lamb

2.5ml (½ tsp) ground nutmeg

Salt and white pepper to season


  1. Cover the rice with water and soak for an hour before draining well.
  2. Wash the courgettes well. Use a manakra* to hollow out as much of the courgette as you can, making sure to keep the bottom intact. Place the inner flesh to one side.
  3. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan. Fry the onion until transparent, then add the garlic. Fry until the garlic begins to release its aroma. Add the canned tomato and heat through. To cut the acidity of the tomato, add the sugar and season with the salt. Add the sumac and the courgette flesh and allow the mixture to come to a slow simmer.
  4. Mix the mince and rice together and add the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix well, using your hands.
  5. Loosely stuff the courgettes, leaving about 1 cm free at the opening.
  6. Place the stuffed courgettes in the sauce and cook on a low simmer for about 40 minutes.

* "A manakra is a tool that looks like a long apple corer," explains Lindop. "I was taught to measure the length you would need to hollow out on the outside of the kousa to about 1cm from the bottom, hold my thumb in that position and keep it there to ensure that I don't poke a hole in the bottom of the kousa."

• 'Going Home – Food and Stories from Lebanon, The Land of my Forefathers' by Sophia Lindop is published by Annake Müller Publishing. The book retails for R450, but Sunday Times Lifestyle readers can purchase it for the discounted price of R400 by e-mailing