My favorite food, right here… Mahshi (in Arabic), stuffed grapeleaves and squash/zucchini, sometimes tomatoes and eggplant. I don’t know what it is about it but it is all so good, especially when smothered in yogurt.
So whenever I am around my mom, this is the dish I request! My mom is from New York but learned how to cook Middle Eastern food from one of the best cooks, my grandma; in this was birthed my great love for food! 🙂
My family is in DC visiting for some Christmas time fun so I requested they come stay at my house for one night to meet my DC family as well as experience at least one night in the city since they’re mostly staying out in VA with my brother. Fortunately, Larry and Michelle, the DC part of the family, share my love for food and Michelle requested to make the grapeleaves with my mom so there was a small training session.
So as you can see in the bowl, you start with making the filling. We used ground beef (lamb can also be used) and then mix it in the bowl with the rice and other good stuff such as olive oil, cinnamon, nutmeg and more! To get a more specific recipe, I’ll have to ask my mom to write it down…
And then you can add some of the inside of the carved out tomato…
So after you mash up this filling, you can now stuff your grapeleaves, squash, zucchini, tomato, eggplant, coconut (joking). But hey, whatever you want.
Here is our family relied-upon brand:
Found at your local Middle Eastern grocery! Which by the way, is kind of hard to find in DC. I would have thought there would have been a lot. I only know of one legit Lebanese place in the District, Shemali’s, in Northwest DC, by American U. And the family that owns it is really nice. However, (as everything in DC), it is pricier than usual. In our case, we happened to find a grocery in Vienna/Fairfax that was pretty sizable, Al Nakheel.
So let the wrapping and stuffing begin! My dad cut the stems and my Mom and Michelle began to wrap/stuff.
You then stack it with garlic and other goodness in this contraption:
Aaand voila… you come out with this tasty goodness:
And my sister contributed the dish, from my amazing Armenian Grandma, Salad-Rus (Russian Salad). My sister made one of the best ones I’ve had and she said she just winged it basically… so I’m glad to say it is in the blood!
And then Michelle also provided some good sides: Tabouleh (store bought, no time to make fresh but really good none the less), prosciutto with crackers and some kind of delicious muffaletta spread.
Oh and add some chicken to that,
And like any other Arab meal, good food is no good without a great family to share it with!