Stuffed Zucchini in Yogurt Sauce – Kousa b Laban

Well it all started innocuously enough, I stated that I'm hungry then I went further, I'm still hungry, I pleaded. I don't quite know what else to do on Facebook except change my status. I access it through a software, a proxy fucker of some sort, and the whole experience isn't that enjoyable to tell you the truth. If it were not for you, some of the people I care most about, I wouldn't even bother go there.

The immediate comments on both statuses were very confusing to me. After all I am a provincial man with a simple mind. I needed something to pacify my hunger that's all. Kousa (Zucchini) I reckoned is the perfect answer to my commentators. This a recipe that is simply delectable. Yet more significantly, it is very sexy to prepare as it involves... well never mind...
It might not be as naughty as asparagus, wink wink, but from a certain perspective, Kousa is very erotic. Even the name, Ah! Even the name... LOL

So here we go, let me feed you right.

Below quantities for 4 to 5 People.

1 kg small sized zucchini (15 cm and less)

2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
300 g minced lamb meat (low fat) or ground beef
2 cubes chicken broth (optional)
2 crushed gloves of garlic
1 teaspoon salt (or more)
¾ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 tablespoon pine nuts (optional)
1 cup short grain rice

4 cups low fat yogurt
1 egg
1 ½ tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon dry mint

(photo from the web)

-The zucchini pulp is scooped using a special utensil (found in Middle Eastern Food stores) or the handle of a tablespoon. First cut both ends of zucchini (slightly).
If you've never done this before, place the scooper next to the zucchini and estimate the full length – 2 cm to avoid opening a hole in the closed end of the zucchini. Slowly turn (using your wrist) the scooper in 90 degrees counter rotating moves while removing the scooped pulp gradually (this is the only tough part about the whole thing).
-Wash with water and let dry. You can use the pulp for another side dish so you don't have to throw away, but I really don't feel like writing about it today.

(photo from the web)

-Over medium heat in a large pot heat olive oil, add chopped onion stir for 5 minutes then add minced lamb, garlic, black pepper, Cinnamon and pine nuts. Continue stirring for another 5 minutes then add washed and rinsed rice and chicken broth and stir for 1 final minute then turn off heat, remove and place in a bowl.
-Let cool at room temperature.

-Stuff the zucchini with (above) using your fingers (ummm naughty, naughty) until ¾ full and slightly pressed.

-Add cornstarch and the egg to Yogurt in large pot and stir constantly with a wooden spoon over medium (don't stop at all – if you do the yogurt sauce will break apart and becomes useless) until boiling. Immediately reduce heat to medium/low then stop stirring (now you are safe). Add the stuffed zucchini to the yogurt and cook for 60 minutes (uncovered).
-Remove, sprinkle with dry mint and serve.

Bon Appétit however you decide to assuage your hunger.


Lujayn said…
Abu Fares, thanks for bothering with Facebook! And thanks for going simple for a change, with only minor minor references to love (actually naughty erotic things) :))

I just might try this recipe, only because we never make it with yoghurt and I love yoghurty dishes.

So do you feel full now?
Karin said…
Hahaha ... you're a big rascal dear friend - and I love it!! While reading your post, I had a BIG grin on my face ...

I have all the ingredients at home except lamb meat which, for some to me unknown reason, is unavailable here but I assume I can substitute it with ground beef ... right?

During the next few days I'll get zucchini, scoop it out and prepare them just the way to posted. Of course I'll will tell you how it'll turn out!

And about Facebook ... AGREED! I am not a facebook-person either.
Rime said…
Na na nah ya Ustaz, this isn't kousa b'laban, this is sheikh mehshi if I know my Arabic cooking (and we all know what a great cook I am, ha ha). Plus, we eat it with rice on the side (rice with vermicelli to be exact) on which we put lots of laban. After which we say: yummy, kteer tayeb, teslam hal ideyn Mommy, or 3ammeh (insert relevant relative who cooked for you here).

Also, where are we supposed to get the teeny weeny koussa in London? Huh? Did you think of us before writing your post? And even if we did get the koussa by paying a lot of little pounds to greengrocers on Edgware Road, who is going to cook it?

I just thought my clarifications were urgently needed, and I may even take this matter further if Tartous dares disagree with Cham.

(As you can probably tell ya Abufares, I have not one but two articles due, hence the swift tour of my favorite blogs in case comment was urgently needed. My editors will understand.)
The Syrian Brit said…
Actually, Rime, I hate to contradict you, but as far as I know, sheikh mehshi is stuffed with minced lamb and pine nuts only.. no rice in the stuffing.. Much nicer than koussa b'laban, if you ask me!..
That is undoubtedly sheikh mehshi, coming from a Chami who knows his food (all too well!..)..
And Rime, in answer to your question, I don't know where in London you can find teeny weeny koussa, but it is here in abundance in Lancashire.. and worry not who will cook it.. Just say the word, and I have no doubt that my lovely wife will magic a fantastic sheikh mehshi for your indulgence... (I know I am taking liberty here by volunteering the services of my wife, but I know she would not let me down..)
Dania said…
Well… I hesitated a lot before I read this –Infuriating diet reasons - :( , but couldn’t resist.

In the name of all those who are hungry on a diet, sleep deprived with yet lots of work to do, I want to thank you for such a delightful virtual trip into your magnificent kitchen –where dreams come true for all the hungry out there like myself-. Now, I will defiantly get rid of all those temptations to sneak to the kitchen for a quick snack cause nothing I currently have in the fridge (or will for the next week) could possibly compete with your appetizing Kusa b Laban, I’ll go to bed now, most likely ‘ll dream of Kusas jumping and giggling at me ;)

P.S: I have to agree with Syrian Brit, sheikh Mehshi is stuffed with minced lamb, pine nuts and some onion sometimes, with some rice on the side
Abu Steif said…
You heat the right spot because it is my favorite dish. But I have to taste yours to have a straight honest opinion. Enjoy it
Fantasia said…
I never thought of Zucchini as sexy but ... cored like that. Mmmmm, yes I see potential.
Re: Asparagus. I see you have visited my blog (Am I to understand that some of your readers and friends have as well?)! What no entry Abufares?! tisk tisk ... this dish sounds divine. Perhaps I shall try!
Isobel said…
This sounds absolutely delicious and I might even be able to pull it off! Thanks, Abu Fares for another great recipe to add to my collection. I'm going to try it tomorrow. Coming for dinner? :)
Abufares said…
You're welcome and I'm glad you're going to give Kousa B Laban a try. Unlike our Damascene compatriots, you at least admit to not actually knowing everything :-)
Abufares said…
I couldn't miss the opportunity and I'm still grinning.
Lamb meat could be easily substituted with ground beef. As a matter of fact my kids prefer it over lamb.
The only thing which needs a little practice is the scooping ;-)
Abufares said…
Ah Rime
Thank you so much for presenting this opportunity on a GOLDEN platter.
The problem with you is that you are truly Damascocentric (oh god it feels so good to say that). Did you even consider asking your second half about Kousa b Laban??? We the free souls of the coast like to try things out. We also prepare Sheikh el Mehshi and love it. BTW, I would've indicated 12 cm or less if I was preparing that recipe. The smaller the better.
Kousa b Laban is similar to the Damascene Kousa b Banadoura (which we also prepare and eat without much fuss).
However, Kousa b Laban is a coastal dish from Antakia to Tyre as far as I know. The fact that it never occurred to you to try it in Damascus still doesn't mean that it doesn't exist and that it's not very delicious.
Abufares said…
@Syrian Brit
Of course I have the advantage of being 50% Damascene genetically and 100% Tartoussi by choice.
As I said to Rime earlier, you know that the world doesn't stop at Harasta ... then a big gap of nothing ... then the UK.
Sheikh El Mehshi is one of my favorite all time dishes. But Kousa b Laban is sooo good, you wouldn't know what you've missing all these years until you give it a try.
Well hopefully, someday, Rime, You and families can do us the honors and taste for yourselves here... The Tartoussi Way!
Abufares said…
Come on girl... Kousa (Zucchini) is very low on calories. So is yogurt. substitute lamb with beef and you have a very good diet meal.
When you dream, set yourself free and use Tartous as the background ;-)
Abufares said…
@Abu Steif
Habibi al Trabelsi!!! Well half Syrian as well, LOL.
How do you like me handling those Shwam???
Waiting for you to have some KOUSA together, LMAO.
Abufares said…
I can't even write to you with a straight face:-)
I have a recipe for you.
The cored Zucchini is stuffed with an asparagus dipped in béarnaise sauce (head first). Then it's laid on a BED of veggies, warmed up a little and shaken gently.
As the béarnaise oozes out on the sides... it should be simultaneously consumed.
Heavenly... that's all I can say!

Now, about your latest post, I read with great interest what you and your very special (kinky) readers had to say. I really don't know whether I can make a contribution. I enjoy reading you so much but I'm afraid I have no chance... Or may be I do ;-)
Abufares said…
Try it please and let me know about the outcome. Photos are greatly appreciated (especially if you are in them:-)
Now, I might take your offer anytime... The only warning you'll get is a KNOCK KNOCK.
Dubai Jazz said…
sorry Abu Fares, I have to let this out lest I choke on it and die:

يا زلمة كس أخت أكل الغربة إذا الو سكة وله طعمة

I'll come back later for more sane commentary.
Rime said…
LOL! Spot the self-avowed "great" cook: I didn't even notice that the recipe included rice. Frankly, I didn't concentrate too much on the actual cooking part, more on the rest. Which is why the measuring of cm and mm meant nothing to me.

Syrian Brit, I bow my head in shame in front of the lovely Mrs. Brit's culinary talents, and I hope to indulge one day.

Now, Abufares, my Damascocentric self was delighted to have presented you with this opportunity on a golden platter, which I knew you would take, he he. My second half knows even less than I do about cuisine, which may describe the situation in this household better.

However ya Abufares, I may have to spend a long time getting over the shock of your description of my geographical beliefs of what lies beyond Harasta. Au contraire, I am more of the opinion that it is beyond Vienna, Madrid and Paris (and those on the way of course) ... that lies the great cultural , not to mention culinary, nothingness. (My Brit friends already forgive me for saying that, they know what I mean.) I may even have to prove that by coming aaaaallll the way to Tartous on my next Damascocentric visit. :)
Abufares said…
I agree with you completely about Kiss Ikht Al Gherbeh and await your sane comment:-)
Abufares said…
Well that is a step in the right direction. So you know of Harasta, LOL.
I can't wait to really welcome you on your next visit home. Wouldn't be nice to show you something else besides Desert and Smog???
Lujayn said…
DJ, rouq, I think I'll have to try and play the culinary saviour and invite you over for dinner. I dont guarantee the nostalgia will subside. It might actually turn into severe stomach spasms! But cant have you so miserable bil gherbeh!
Dubai Jazz said…
Abu Fares, how come you’re on facebook and I don’t know about that?

And LMAO at the finger stuffing and the 15 cm zucchini. I am not sure the 6 inches reference was meant to be an innuendo, but you can’t help wonder that especially given your ‘naughty’ alert at the beginning.

I even noted the single Egg.

We, too, call it Kousa Bellaban. Shiekh Al Me7shie, as Syrian Brit rightly said, is done without rice. (and even without Laban sometimes?)

Anyway, muchas gracias for the lovely recipe. I may try it one day at home. When I’m in the mood for some fingering!
Dubai Jazz said…
Lujayn, thank you very much for the offer! I’d be honored. As with regards to the ‘culinary savior’ part, well, we don’t want the nostalgia to subside now do we? Lol

We should get together sometimes….. it’s been a while.
Lujayn said…
Khalas, DJ, dinner at our place next week then. I'll give you a call. :))
Anonymous said…
Abufares, this was not tradittion at home (ALEPO), but as soon as i returme from my fishing trip ( i am in patagonoa for trout fishing )
i´ll try to cook the zurchini with ugurt, we have good zurcchini, good meat, but we dont have good (laban ghanam),and this makes big difference,
Abufares i wish you were with me , patagonia is wild, looks like Syria perhaps 300 years ago
Allie said…
That sounds delicious. Absolutely delicious!
Abufares said…
I'm on FB as Abufares Tartoussi but I rarely use it for anything except updating my status and seeing the statuses of others :-)
No, I'm not that Az3ar. There was no innuendo intended as far as size is concerned, there was, however, about the scooping, LOL.
Abufares said…
Laban Ghanam (sheep yogurt) is indeed the best but alas... we haven't had that in a long time.
I wish I were there fishing with you in Brazil as well, I really do.
Abufares said…
It is delicious and except for the scooping which takes some getting used to the recipe is very simple.
Nancy Reyes said…
Looks delicious. Linked to my blog
Anonymous said…
Abufares said…
Sahha w Hana
Abufares said…
Thank you fort the link.
Unfortunately they got the cooking method all wrong.
I think:-)
Karin said…
I did it!! I printed out the recipe, parked it right near me at the stove ... and cooked it just the way you mention! It was YUMMY!! I think I should have added a wee bit more cinnamon and a dash of salt though (matter of individual taste) but the overall taste was truly DELICIOUS!!!

Thanks so much dear friend ... EVERY recipe is MOST welcome and - you bet - will be tested.
Abufares said…
Oh Karin
I forgot the salt... I really forgot the salt.
I'm so happy yours was a success.
Sahha Wa Hana
Isobel said…
Me too!! I did it too!! Yummy is RIGHT!! Thanks, Abu Fares! :) The kids loved it!!
Abufares said…
I saw the photo on your blog.
Your Koussa looks sooooo pretty.
I'm glad you and the kids liked it.
Sahha ala Albek
Anonymous said…
Abufares, you took my back with your ugurt dish, long long time ago when i was about 6 perhas 8, we used to go to the SAJUR river for fishing, (at that time all syrin rivers were alive), on cold winter days fishing ,returning back home at night (Halab) we used to pass threu the Membeg village, and there were a small restourant, the ouneres were two Arminian brothers , there was the best LABAN dish I ever tasted, ARMAN, is the name of this dish, it is not sofisticated,so simple, only 3 ingrdients, and some salt, LAHEM GHANAM, LABAN GHANAM, BASAL, the seacret is in the quality organic products, at that times there were only organics,
Ala yerham hadik al ayam,
Anonymous said…

Are you Syrian?
Anonymous said…
Please try to add some Sumac,and taste.Sahha Wa Hana,
Cheers mate.
Anonymous said…
To Syrian Brit,

I don't know where in London you can find teeny weeny koussa,

Please try Sainsbury's .or please try this,

Sahha Wa Hana.
Anonymous said…
Above link ,if you want to plant seeds in your garden!
The Syrian Brit said…
Anonymous @ 11:28 and 11:46,
Thank you very much for the tips..
Teeny weeny koussa is available up here in Lancashire in many Asian and Arabic food stores...
Nevertheless, I shall check the links out, particularly the one for the seeds!..
Thanks again...
Anonymous said…
اسفرجل يعود إليكم

أعزاءنا القراء، لقد انشغلنا ببعض القضايا النضالية التي أبعدتنا عنكم لبرهة من الزمن طويلة. ولكن النضال -بما أنه أصبح مرتبطاً بالاقتصاد- يعاني الآن من ركود عالمي، مما يسمح لنا بتخصيص بعض الوقت للتواصل معكم وتزويدكم بآخر تطورات الساحة السورية والعربية والدولية. ابقوا مع اسفرجل. كل عضّة بغصّة.
How do you identify the difference between a Tartoussi and a Shaami? Re-read the recipe carefully....
Read it again....
Now, see? It's obvious! The Tartoussi uses olive oil in the koussa b-laban recipe whereas the Shaami uses samneh!

Anonymous said…
2 Cups Olive Oil ,I think much better than
(2 tablespoon olive oil) only!


Olive Party
Abufares said…
You're so right!!!
Well this is a certain way to identify Tartoussis in any case. Ask when was the last time they had olive oil. If they answer that it's more than 6 hours... well chances are they're not real.
Thank you for coming over.
Lujayn said…
Abu Fares, it failed miserably. After the yoghurt boiled and I plonked in the zuchini, the yoghurt curdled. Luckily for DJ and my other guests, I had a backup meal. And we all decided your recipe, and not my cooking skills, is to blame. :))
Abufares said…
Read above Karin & Isobel :-)

Obviously your talents are not in the kitchen ;-)
Gabriela said…
I almost missed this nice post! I had zucchinis for lunch today, ha, ha. And had some troubles at taking out the pulp. That special utensil you show would have been so useful today...
If some day I try to make this, I'll let you know about the results.
Anonymous said…
I guess there is no Kousa like the syrian ones. Easier and faster to prepare. Abu Fares, ya Abu Fares, law tshouf shu 3milt fiyi.... I had to try the Kousa bleaban. It took me about 3 and 1/2 hours to get the food on the table. The reason behind that was tha small whole of the Kousaa. tala3 dinii 2wnazal samawati. but it turned out really good. thanks. salamt from VA
Abufares said…
@From VA
I'm so glad the Koussa you made turned out really good.
But you should know this about koussa already, the smaller the better :-)
Summer said…
wow...really impressive when a guy cooks such meal! the photos look great and i am sure it tasted even better than it looked. have you published more recipes on your blog? would be interesting to see. thanks for sharing.
Abufares said…
Thank you for your visit. I've taken a look at your delicious site and felt so hungry afterward.
Only the last photo is mine.The first two were picked from the web.
I've posted many recipes so far and you can take a look at the under the Food Label:
kaya said…
HeelAbu Fares
its been so long you wont even remember me. Just thought I would see how youre doing and say hello.
Bestest aklways.
Abufares said…
Hello Kaya

Sorry it took me a while to post and respond to your comment.
I'm doing fine!!! Thank you soooo much for asking. I hope you and yours are all in high spirits and good health.

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