Ground Beef Mediterranean Middle Eastern Rice Zucchini

Kousa Mahshi- Stuffed Zucchini, Authentic Lebanese Dish

Kousa Mahshi is a traditional Middle Eastern dish, particularly popular in countries like Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine. The name “Kousa Mahshi” translates to “stuffed zucchini” in English. It is a dish made by hollowing out zucchinis (also known as courgettes) and stuffing them with a flavorful mixture, typically rice, ground meat (such as lamb or beef), onions, tomatoes, herbs like parsley and mint, and various spices such as cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.

Once stuffed, the zucchinis are usually cooked by simmering them in a tomato-based sauce. This sauce can include ingredients like tomato sauce and garlic. The dish is cooked until the zucchinis are tender and the flavors of the stuffing have melded together.

Kousa Mahshi is often served hot, either as a main course accompanied by rice or bread, or as part of a larger spread of Middle Eastern mezze dishes. It’s known for its hearty and comforting flavors, making it a beloved dish in the region and among fans of Middle Eastern cuisine worldwide.

Additionally, variations of Kousa Mahshi exist, with some recipes using different fillings such as vegetarian options or incorporating additional vegetables like eggplant or peppers.

Kousa Mahshi- Stuffed Zucchini, Authentic Lebanese Dish
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
  • Middle Eastern Zucchini or Squash- 8
For making stuffing
  • Ground beef- less than ¼ kg
  • White short grain rice- ½ cup
  • Ground all spice- ½ tbsp
  • Ground black pepper- 1 tsp
  • Kabseh spice- 1 tsp, optional
  • Salt- 1½ tsp
For sauce
  • Tomato sauce- 1½ cups
  • Water- 4 cups
  • Ground all spice- 1 tsp
  • Salt- 1 tsp
  • Ground black pepper- ½ tsp
  • Garlic cloves- 6
  1. For making this Middle Eastern or Mediterranean zucchini has to be used, it's shorter & wider than the American zucchini. Some even call this squash.
  2. For making a large batch you can double or triple the recipe.
  3. Wash the zucchinis well under running water.
  4. Cut the top stem part.
  5. Using a knife make a round cut on the top flesh.
  6. I used the back of the spoon to scoop out the zucchini flesh from the inside, create a hollow space to stuff the filling. Do leave some flesh at the bottom part.
  7. Keep them aside.
  8. In a bowl, add all the ingredients mentioned for making the stuffing.
  9. Ground beef or lamb can be used.
  10. Short grain white rice or even basmati rice can be used.
  11. For making Middle Eastern dishes, mild spice are added.
  12. Combine the stuffing well.
  13. Stuff the filling into the zucchini, I used the back of the spoon to stuff that way I was able to push the stuffing inside the zucchini.
  14. Arrange the stuffed zucchinis in a medium sized saucepan.
  15. Add tomato sauce, water, ground all spice, salt, ground pepper & garlic cloves.
  16. Ensure to cover the zucchinis with the liquid, add more water if required.
  17. Place the saucepan over medium high heat & let the liquid come to a boil.
  18. Close the saucepan with the lid.
  19. Reduce the heat to medium & cook covered for 45 minutes.
  20. Don't cook over high heat.
  21. After 30 minutes, I opened the lid to check. If the sauce is getting too dry you can add ½ cup more warm water & again cook covered.
  22. I cooked for 45 minutes till the zucchinis have turned soft & the sauce has thickened.
  23. Take the pan off the heat & let rest for 15 minutes.
  24. Serve the stuffed zucchinis on a plate, pour some sauce over it & enjoy.
  25. The ground beef & rice stuffing, the tender zucchinis along with the flavourful tomato sauce, this dish tasted delicious & is a complete meal.
  26. You can also have pita bread or pita chips with this.
There will be some leftover stuffing, if you have grape leaves you can use the same stuffing & roll the leaves.
Or you can use the filling to stuff green & red peppers, small eggplants & cook in the tomato sauce.



Thas is the author of Cooking with Thas, a popular food blog with recipes from Indian, American and Fusion Cuisines. She has been blogging since 2009 and been featured in several magazines. Read more...