I first recall tasting this delicious dish made by my Syrian auntie back in Damascus when I was maybe 6 years old. The typical big family gathering on the long sufra with countess plates and cutlery, scattered bowls of olives, home made pickles and fresh green salads and lots of bread, round flat Arabic bread. I cried when I was served this. Not out of joy but because I have not eaten courgettes before ; Syrian courgettes to be precise. I thought they would taste horrible and refused to eat them. How wrong was I ? And that’s why I never give in when my monkeys refuse to eat certain food; I keep trying … Hoping, like me, they realise how darn wrong they are. I absolutely love courgette now all types and I even just tried the yellow ones …
This typical Syrian dish is actually simple to make. I wish I watched my auntie cook it so I could get the exact flavour. The secret ingredient is Kamoon or Cumin in English. I heard someone call it the ‘Spice of the God’s’.
If you find the Syrian small courgettes , I am sure they have a ‘proper’ name but that is what I call them, then you are in luck. They are found in most Mediterranean grocers and markets, they are small light green courgettes, not your typical long dark green ones. However, you can use ANY type of courgette, so do not be discouraged.
I will use meat stuffing however you can reuse the cored courgettes flesh or just take meat out of the recipe.
Also, please note I am using a special cooking instrument that is very similar to an apple corer. You can buy this from any middle eastern grocers / shop or just use an apple corer ! If you do not have one you can use a sharp fruit knife.
6 to 8 small courgettes
1/4 kg mince meat
1/2 cup washed white rice
1 large onion
2 large tomatoes
1/2 cup of chopped parsley
3 teaspoons of seasoning
2 teaspoon Cumin
2 full tablespoons of tomato paste
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Jug of water
Step1. First core the small Courgettes. Be very careful not to pierce them and try to get as much of the flesh out. This might be slightly tricky if using a knife so take your time.
Step 2. In a bowl mix the mince meat with finally chopped onions, half the chopped tomatoes, washed rice, parsley and spices. Mix well using your hands.
Step 3. In a separate bowl add tomato paste, the rest of the chopped tomatoes and water with seasoning. Mix well and set aside.
Step4. Stuff the courgettes full , make sure you give them slight tap down so that all the stuffing goes deep in the courgette, then place them in a pan. Once all courgettes are done and are in a pan add the tomato sauce carefully, cover and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for 20 minute then serve hot either with rice, yogurt or on its own.