Makes 20-24 portions
Prep time: approx 1 hour | Cooking time: approx 2 hours
Syrian Jews might be the masters of stuffed foods! From savoury, deep fried kibbeh to sweet nut-filled mahmoul, there is a skill and a flair involved with delicately encasing one food inside another which brings delight to the recipient and which brings a certain joy to Syrian chefs. Food historian Gil Marks notes that “Holidays … offer Syrian cooks suitable opportunities to demonstrate their culinary and decorative abilities.” From carrots to cabbages, there are notable recipes for all sorts of vegetables filled with hashu, a fragrant spiced ground meat and rice mixture, and stuffed courgettes are one of the most traditional servings for Rosh Hashana because gourds are one of the Simanim, the traditional foodstuffs eaten as good omens for the New Year.
In ancient Aramaic, the word for gourds is ‘Karaa’, which in Hebrew can be read either as ‘Kara’a’ – to rip apart, or as ‘Kara’, to announce. As we dive into these delicious stuffed courgettes, we request that the evil decrees against us be ripped up and that our good deeds be announced to Hashem instead.
- 10-12 large Courgettes halved (We used 6 green and 6 yellow)
- 1 Onion ribboned
For the sauce
- 1 Onion diced and lightly salted
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 2 tsp Dried Mint
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 tsp Ground Coriander
- 2 tsp Dried Parsley
- 1 tbsp Oil
- 800g (2 cans) Chopped Tomatoes
- 400ml Water
For the Hashu Stuffing
- 1 Brown Onion finely diced and salted
- ½ cup Long Grain Rice soaked in cold water for 30 min
- 450g Minced Beef or Lamb
- 1 tsp Ground Cumin
- ½ tsp Ground Coriander
- ½ tsp Turmeric
- ½ tsp Allspice
- ¼ tsp Onion Powder
- ¼ tsp Garlic Powder
- ¼ tsp Ground Cinnamon
- ¼ tsp Black Pepper
- Soak the rice for the stuffing in cold water for at least 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, halve and core the courgettes, ideally keping the ends intact. This is easiest with a specialist corer, but it can be done with a grapefruit spoon, or an apple corer and a teaspoon. You want to create a hollow inside the courgette with a wall of around 5mm.
- Layer ribbons of onion on the base of a deep, heavy-bottomed and lidded casserole dish big enough to hold all the courgettes.
- Drain the rice.
- In a bowl, mix together all the stuffing ingredients, then loosely fill each courgette and place in the casserole dish, on top of the layer of onions. We placed ours upright, tightly packed together and open end up, creating a visually stunning way to serve the courgettes straight from the pot. A more traditional approach is to layer the courgettes flat, and weigh them down with a heavy heat-proof plate during cooking.
- Once all the courgettes have been stuffed, cover the pan and refrigerate.
- Into a saucepan add 1 tbsp oil and warm over medium heat.
- Add diced, salted onion to the pan and fry until translucent (3-5 mins).
- Add garlic and dried herbs, stir together for 2-3 minutes, then add 800g chopped tomatoes and 400ml water. Simmer for
- Remove the casserole dish from the fridge and top the courgettes with the sauce. If using a plate to weigh down the courgettes, place that on top.
- Cover the pan and cook on the stove for 1 hour.
- Remove from the stove, then place in a preheated oven at 200°C / 180°C fan
(Gas Mark 6 / 400°F) for 30-40 minutes until sauce has thickened, then serve.
This dish can be frozen and reheated.
(Image Credit: Sophy Weiss Photography)