Make Ahead

Egyptian Stuffed Vegetables (Ma7shi)

December  7, 2022
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Photo by Hajar D.
  • Prep time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 20
Author Notes

Another day, another recipe for stuffed foods from the Egyptian world. Really, we do like to take simple things and make them a little over the top! In most of the Middle Eastern world, there are numerous varieties of foods stuffed into other foods, creating aromatic and complicated creations that are way more than the sum of their parts.

Egyptians love to make "ma7shi" or "stuffed" with the ultimate combination being white eggplants (when in season), small peppers, and zucchinis. The pepper lends a big flavor when cooked in the same pot as the others, and all of them together = magic.

This recipe is in two parts -- and it is my FAVORITE recipe to delegate to my children.

First, you'll prepare all your vegetables by coring the inside flesh.

Second, you'll prepare the stuffing mixture, which can be made with or without meat. Different families make this different ways, but I think adding meat makes this as more complete meal and gives depth of flavor. Preparing the stuffing mixture can easily be done 1-2 days ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator.

Lastly, you'll assemble the dish by stuffing the vegetables, covering them in a tomato broth, and letting them simmer until they're perfectly cooked. The aroma of peppers, zucchini, eggplants, and fragrant herbs together combine to make this a dish that has people knocking to ask "what are you cooking?"

Typically, I prep the stuffing mixture, set up the vegetables, and pass them on to my kids. They love stuffing the veggies, arranging them in the pot, and seeing it all come together.

While -- yes -- this dish may seem daunting, it's actually very simple to make and feeds a LOT of people. For parties, this dish is wonderful to be made ahead. After the vegetables are stuffed and in the pot, simply refrigerate for a day or two. When you're ready to cook it, bring to room temperature and finish cooking with the broth.

Bel hana wel shefa (Arabic: enjoy it with happiness and good health)!
Hajar D.

What You'll Need
  • Stuffing mix
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely minced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 can, tomato paste (6oz)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 cups Egyptian rice (short/medium grain), washed until water is clear then drained
  • 14 ounces crushed tomatoes (half of a 28 oz can)
  • 1/2 cup finely minced flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup finely minced cilantro
  • 1/2 cup finely minced dill
  • Vegetables to stuff (mix and match)
  • 3-5 zucchini
  • 3-5 bell peppers or mini peppers
  • 3-5 white or chinese eggplants (long/thin)
  • 1 tablespoon Better Than Bullion Chicken flavor
  • 1.2 cups water
  • 14 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  1. Stuffing mix
  2. Start by washing all vegetables thoroughly.
  3. For zucchini, cut in half if they are very long (if the zucchini is shorter, you can just trim the part with the stem to start with a nice, flat top). Core the inside by sliding a peeler or vegetable corer, rotating it clockwise as you remove the flesh inside. Remove the inside flesh and repeat several times. You want to leave a thin, 3-5 mm amount of "wall" on the zucchini. Set aside.
  4. Eggplants: cut off the top part with the stem. Core the inside as above with the zucchini. Set aside.
  5. Peppers: remove the top of the pepper to make a little "lid." Set aside.
  6. Optional: you can use potatoes, tomatoes, or any vegetable you can stuff :) Set all the vegetables aside while you assemble the stuffing mixture.
  1. Vegetables to stuff (mix and match)
  2. In a large Dutch oven or non-stick pot, add the olive oil and bring to medium high heat.
  3. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. If using, add the beef all at once, mixing with the onions and breaking up the clumps. Sauté until browned. (You can omit the beef if you'd like to make this vegan).
  4. Add the garlic and mince until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add all of the tomato paste, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes (the texture will change and become less of a formed paste). Add salt, pepper, and all-spice.
  5. Add 14 oz. of crushed tomatoes and stir until evenly mixed. Turn off the heat.
  6. Add in all of the washed and drained rice, stirring until mixed. Now, add the herbs and stir until everything is combined. You can mix and match the herbs, if you have preferences. If necessary, adjust the salt. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool.
  7. In the same pot, generously drizzle olive oil at the bottom. If desired, you can take the inside cores of the zucchini, eggplants, or vegetables and layer them on the bottom.
  8. Start stuffing the vegetables, one at a time. Fill only to 3/4 of the way up, as the rice will expand during cooking. Stand up in the pot. Continue until all vegetables are stuffed.
  9. In a small saucepan, heat the remaining 14 oz. of crushed tomatoes, 1/2 c of water, bullion flavor, salt, and the butter until dissolved and homogenous.
  10. With the stuffed vegetable pot on medium heat, pour the tomato mixture in the above step over all of the vegetables. Cover the pot and cook on medium heat for 30-ish minutes. It is finished when the rice has expanded and cooked through (best to check in the middle of one of the veggies). If the rice is dry or uncooked as you near the end, sprinkle 1/4 cup of water and continue cooking on low heat. You may need to repeat this once or twice. Try not to add excessive amounts of water, since we don't want it to turn to mush :)
  11. Allow the stuffed vegetables to rest off the heat for at least 15 minutes before serving.

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