free cookbook download Kousa Mahshi
How To Make Kousa Mahshi Like You’re From Syria
By Anna Safronova of SOS Children’s Villages

Celebrating holidays with family wouldn’t be the same without food. Memories created while preparing and sharing a meal are marked by feelings of togetherness and love and often cherished for a lifetime.

It’s true for every child and every family around the world.

SOS Children’s Villages builds stable and loving families for orphaned and abandoned children across 135 countries. SOS Mothers, trained caregivers who dedicate their lives to raising children in close-knit families at SOS Villages, help to create a “taste of childhood” through the delicious meals they make every day and for special occasions.

This holiday season SOS Children’s Villages is offering a special gift: a Food is Family Cookbook that features favorite recipes from SOS Mothers around the world.

One of them is a recipe of Kousa Mahshi shared by SOS Mother Rakazia from Syria.

free cookbook download Kousa Mahshi
Syrian dishes being enjoyed around the table. Anna Safronova of SOS Children’s Villages.

This stuffed zucchini and eggplant dish is common in Syria, especially in Aleppo, but it is also well-known in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Palestine. It is served as a hot meal and often prepared for weddings, parties, and other special gatherings.

A little tip before you start cooking. In Syria, the zucchini is a lot smaller than the zucchini typically found in the US. If you can’t find the right size just cut each zucchini into smaller pieces before hollowing it out!  And it works brilliantly.

free cookbook download Kousa Mahshi
Kousa Mahshi. Photo via Anna Safronova of SOS Children’s Villages.

Kousa Mahshi Recipe

Serves 10


  • 6 1/2 lb of small zucchini
  • 4 1/2 lb of small eggplants
  • 3.5 cups of long-grain rice
  • 1 1/2 lb of ground
  • lamb meat
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. margarine or butter
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 5 tsp. of salt
  • 1 Tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. sumac
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. dried mint
  • 1 lb grape leaves
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced


1. Cut off the tops of the zucchini and eggplants and hollow out their cores with a corer.

2. Wash the vegetables both inside and out and let them dry.

3. Soak the rice for half an hour with lukewarm water, then rinse and drain in a colander. Meanwhile, cook the ground lamb meat on the stove over medium heat with margarine, diced onion, bay leaves, 1/2 tsp. ground cloves, 1 Tbsp. ginger powder, 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 Tbsp. black pepper, 1 Tbsp. of sumac and 1 tsp. cinnamon.

4. Remove the bay leaves, and add 1 Tbsp. garlic powder, 1 Tbsp. cumin, 1 Tbsp. dried mint, 2 tsp. salt and 1/2 cup vegetable oil. Then start filling the zucchini and eggplants with the stuffing mix close each one with a grape leaves, which will give the ingredients a nice sour taste.

5. Layer extra grape leaves on the bottom of a large pot and arrange the stuffed zucchini and eggplants.

6. Start preparing the tomato broth by melting the tomato paste with water until filling 1/3 of a medium sauce pot, and then stir in 1 Tbsp. of dried mint, the minced garlic, 1/2 Tbsp. black pepper and 2 tsp. salt. Pour the tomato broth on the stuffed zucchini and eggplants, add water to cover and bring to a boil.

7. Cover the pot and gently boil for one hour. Remove the stuffed zucchini and eggplants from the broth and place on a serving dish, drizzled with broth. Serve with extra broth on the side. For decoration, garnish with fresh mint leaves.

This holiday season visit to download a free digital copy of Food is Family Cookbook and share it with your family and friends to create a better world for children everywhere.

Jessica Festa

Jessica Festa is the editor of Epicure & Culture as well as Jessie on a Journey. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia, agritouring through Tuscany, and volunteering in Ghana.

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