Iraqi Sheikh El-Mahshi | Nana's Kitchen

Hello everyone! Sheikh El-Mahshi is a Middle-Eastern 'casserole' usually eaten with rice. Hollowed-out eggplants, zucchinis and peppers are lightly fried and then stuffed with spiced ground meat. They're wrapped with parsley and then baked in the oven in a tomato paste sauce until soft.
The vegetables: 
  • 10 magda (Middle-Eastern) zucchini 
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 2 small or medium-sized eggplants 
  • 5 small sweet or spicy peppers of your choice
  • canola oil for frying
  • 1/2 a bunch of parsley for wrapping, leave the stems on
For the filling: 
  • about 1 1/2 cups of fatty ground beef (not lean)
  • 1 tbsp salt (to taste)
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp dried cilantro
  • 1-2 red onions (to taste)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • half a carrot 
  • 1/2 a bunch of parsley
For the sauce:
  • about 6 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp red pepper paste
  • 1/2 tsp citric acid
  • 1 cup water
  1. For the eggplants and zucchini, slice a thin (about half an inch thick) strip lengthwise. Use a knife or spoon to take out the insides. Be careful not to pierce the skin. Save the 'meat' of the veggies for later. If you need a demonstration, you can watch Nana do it here:
  2. Cut the tops off the peppers and use a knife to cut out the membrane with the seeds. Save the tops for later to use as a lid for the peppers. 
  3. Finely chop your carrot, garlic, parsley and onions for the ground beef. You can adjust the amounts to suit your preferences. 
  4. Add your ground beef to a pan on medium heat. Add some oil if you're using lean beef instead of fatty. Use a wooden spoon to break up the ground beef, then let it cook. After a few minutes, add the spices, salt, onions, garlic and carrot. Mix them together, then cook until the beef is browned and mostly cooked. Then take the pan off the heat and add the parsley.
  5. Add about half an inch of canola oil to a pot or high-walled pan over medium-high heat. Let the oil heat up. Fry your veggies until they have a bit of colour and they're half cooked. Don't let them get too soft, or they'll fall apart too much after cooking in the oven. Put on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
  6. Once you've fried all the veggies, add the innards of the eggplant and zucchini to the oil. Cook until they're mostly soft. Then evenly cover the bottom of a large baking/casserole dish with the cooked innards. 
  7. Wash and dry the 1/2 bunch of parsley. Leave the stems on. Microwave them for about 20 seconds to soften them a little. This will make them more flexible for wrapping and tying. 
  8. Preheat your oven to 350°F (about 177°C).
  9. Stuff the hollowed-out veggies with the meat mixture. Cover them with the 'lid' (the thin strip that was cut). Wrap a parsley around the middle of the eggplant/zucchini and tie a knot. If you need a demonstration, you can watch Nana do it here: Place them into the baking dish.
  10. Fill the peppers and cover with the cut tops and place into the baking dish. 
  11. Mix together the ingredients of the sauce in a bowl. Pour over the veggies. It should come up about 3/4 of the dish. Use more water if needed. 
  12. Cover the dish with tin foil and place it into the oven for about an hour. After an hour, remove the tin foil and bake for another 20 minutes. Serve with rice. 
  13. Enjoy!

You can watch how Nana makes it here: