So last week, Sunday, Khaled and I were looking through the grocery ads and I found cabbage as the loss leader for the week. To me, cabbage in the winter means corned beef and cabbage, and summer means hobo dinner and mashi! Maybe it’s spelled Mahshi. I’m not sure, but for those of you who don’t know Mashi, if you are married to an Egyptian, you’ve had it at sometime at some relative’s house. If you had Mashi Cromb it was vegetarian stuffed cabbage and if you had Mashi Kosa it was meat stuffed zucchini.
Anyhow, Khaled looked at me like I was mad, because in Egypt making Mashi is like a 3 day process. Seriously! I think it is because of the method of prepping the cabbage and the whole cooking with a propane stove versus a natural gas/electric stove. We were, conveniently, on the skype with Naena and Auntie who gave us the list of ingredients. YAY!!! We had made it before, but when we did, it was a long process and we used the zucchini.
2 Heads of Cabbage
3 cups Rice
1 16 oz can whole Tomato
1-2 Green Pepper
Salt, Pepper, Allspice
1 32 oz box of chicken broth
1 large, deep, heavy bottomed pot
As with everything, there is not exact measurement to this. My MIL cooks by looking at it, as does my husband. Again, since I’ve not made this my whole life, I was learning. Yes, I said we’d made this before, but the times before my children were very small and I was seriously sleep deprived, so I have no idea how we got to the end result. I will do my best to walk you through this with the tweaks thrown in.
I said 3 cups of rice, but actually it was 3 of my rice scoops. It’s about 3 cups, you may have some leftover depending on how big your cabbage is and how many usable leaves you end up with. Anyhow, soak the rice in water for about an hour. While it is soaking, you can prep the cabbage.
I looked up several ways to do this cabbage prep, and wasn’t happy with any of the other options so I came up with my quick and easy method. I trimmed off the stem and the tough outer leaves and put the cabbage in a deep microwaveable bowl with about an inch of water. I covered the bowl with parchment and put it in the microwave on the “cook fresh veggies” setting for about 9 minutes. I kept doing that until I could pull the cabbage leaf off the head easily. If you over cook it, you will have mushy leaves. (I did that too, because I answered the phone and got distracted telling Khaled about my cabbage prep hack.) Once I peeled the leaves off, I stacked them in a big bowl that I covered with plastic wrap to keep them moist. Keep the centers of the cabbage heads so you can stuff those too.We used 1 whole vidalia onion, 1/2 bunch of cilantro, 1/2 bunch of dill and I think the whole bunch of parsley. Trim the stems off the herbs and set them aside. Chop them all up in the food processor. Drain the rice and mix with the herbs and onion. Pulse the tomato until they are small pieces, mix in with the rice and then add the salt, pepper and allspice. It looked like about 1-2 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of pepper and about 1 tsp of allspice. It’s all up to your taste.
Then you roll the leaves with about 1 heaping spoon of filling. Start at the end where it was close to the stem, roll, fold in the sides and then finish it up. Once you are finished with the leaves, you can dig out the cabbage centers and stuff those, stuff the green peppers and anything else you have in the fridge.
Then put all the herb stems at the bottom of the pan (you do this for two reasons – first to impart more flavor into the broth, and second, if you get a little overzealous with the heat it will keep the cabbage from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan), put the green peppers and centers in the middle of the pan and layer the cabbage rolls around the sides. If you’ve stuffed tomatoes, it’s good to put those on the top because tomatoes take a lot less time to cook than anything else and will get very soft. Once the pot is ready, pour the chicken broth in the pan and bring the whole thing to a boil, then reduce and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the rice is done. If you have any of the rice mixture left over, you can stick it in the fridge and use it for something else, or put it in a pan and cook it like rice.
With 2 people working on this, it took us about 2-2 1/2 hours from start to finish. Bil hana wa’shafa!