My friends often ask me, “What is Egyptian food like?” I only know by years of taste-testing experience at home and visiting my family, and I often crave certain dishes. One of these is Mashi, a popular Egyptian meat and rice dish stuffed into peppers, cabbage, or other vegetables. Saturdays and Sundays were days in which the house was filled with good smells from early in the morning. My dad would get up early to start cooking, and work in the yard – two relaxing activities for him – and the pots would be already full of different dishes by the time I woke up at the not-so-shabby hour of 8 or 9 for a weekend. Mashi was a frequent flyer on the menu, and I recreated it using a few shortcuts for a quicker preparation for a weeknight’s fare and using a leaner meat that I had available.
- one yellow onion
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 2 cups short grain rice
- vegetable broth
- 1 small can organic tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil for cooking
- 1 large beefsteak tomato
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 2 tablespoons parsley
- 1.5 tablespoons dill
- 2 liberal pinches pipelchuma
- 2 liberal pinches zhoug
- 1 tablespoon ras el hanout
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 5 red or green peppers
If you have a rice cooker, pull it out. I used jasmine rice, but a short grain rice works fine. Even using brown rice would be fine, since in this preparation I use vegetable broth (although most authentically, cooking a chicken down and making your own broth is the best) instead of water to make the rice. Start the rice cooking by filling up to the fill line with 2 cups of rice grains and the appropriate amount of liquid as vegetable broth.
Next, chop 3/4 of an onion and 5 cloves of garlic. Onions should be chunky, and garlic more fine. Sautée ground turkey meat once the onions and garlic and tablespoon of canola oil have had a chance to soften. Add in 3/4 of a can of tomato paste once the meat is browning and cover until just cooked.
Next, the alchemy of spices. Add in the amounts detailed in the Ingredients section above. For a quick weeknight dinner, I used dried dill and parsley that I already had at home, but I would recommend using fresh herbs here if you are able to. Both taste great!
Once rice and meat mixtures are done with their separate cooking, combine in a pot.
Chop one whole beefsteak tomato. Toss half in the mixture with rice and meat, and reserve other have for the simmering with peppers. Keep the rice and meat filling on hand and warm. Next, prepare the simmer sauce. Add the remaining 1/4 chopped onion and half a tomato to 1/4 inch fill the pot with vegetable broth. Also add in the remainder of tomato paste in the can. The pot should have a lid and be deep enough to keep the peppers.
Remove the seeds and white fibers inside without really splitting the pepper – you want it mostly intact to retain the filling and juices without spilling too much. Fill the pepper. Simmer on low heat for one hour with the lid closed to the pot.
There will be leftover rice and meat for later, so you can enjoy rice in the pepper and without! The peppers are flavorful and well-spiced, and healthy as well!
Enjoy! I hope you enjoyed this little cultural journey and are inspired to try it out.
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