Stuffed vegetables are a feature of Arab Cuisine with innumerable recipes falling under the generic name mahshi, which simply means “stuffed.” There are regional variations and even vegetarian versions but the base is a rice and herb stuffing. The exception that proves the rule is sheikh el mahsi, so called because it is richer, stuffed with meat and nuts.
The stuffed vegetables most popular for sheikh el mahsi are aubergine and to a lesser extent zuchinni. In my family there are a few people who don’t eat either so we added sweet bell peppers, which work really well with the flavors of this dish. It also makes a variation from the traditional Libyan stuffed bell peppers recipe, filfil mahshi. This adaption of sheik el mahshi combines bell peppers and aubergines filled with a lamb and aubergine mix, then baked in tomato sauce and sprinkled with pine nuts.
2 large eggplants
2 bell peppers (preferably not green)
1/2 kilo minced meat (or ideally finely chopped lamb)
about 50g butter
1 chopped medium onion
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp dry mint
1/2 cup pine nuts (or blanched almond )
3-4 tablespoon olive oil
1 grated garlic clove
1 chilli finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 finely chopped tomatoes (or tin of chopped tomato)
1 teaspoon salt
Partially peel the eggplants ( leaving strips of alternating peel and flesh). Prepare the eggplant and bell peppers by cutting them in half and hollowing them out.
Chop the eggplant hull into cubes and saute.
Put the butter and the minced meat in frying pan cook on medium heat stir occasionally until it releases its own liquid add chopped onions and spices one cup of water cook for 30 minutes. When the mix ready it should be moist. Remove from heat add the fried aubergines to the mix.
Prepare the sauce while the meat is cooking. In a pan fry grated garlic and chilli, add 1 tbs paste and stir. Add 4 fresh tomatoes and put through a food processor. Leave on medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Place the aubergines and peppers in a deep oven-proof dish. Spoon the meat and aubergine mixture into the eggplant and bell peppers, pour about 2 spoon tomato sauce over each vegetable piece, use any extra to fill the bottom of the dish.
Cover with foil and bake for about 1/2 hour at 250. Remove the foil and cook for anothr 15 minutes.
Decorate with roasted pine nuts or halved browned almonds. Serve with rice