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Eleven

I went cycling today, it has been over five years since I’ve last ridden a bicycle.


It has also been almost over five years since I last cooked Stuffed Cabbage Leaves (Mahshy Kromb). After six hours of non-stop labor (granted my mom takes half or less this time) I realized why.

Mahsy Kromb scares me. It is delicious, but my God, the work. the work!

People who make this meal will tell you it’s absolutely worth the extra labor, and unfortunately I have to agree. It is a divine meal. With so many steps, that makes you understand the meaning of a true reward when it all comes together in the end. Hence it’s divinity.

Every Ramadan, the Muslim community in Madison flies an Egyptian Quraan Reciter from a village in Egypt to lead the night prayers at the mosque (Taraweeh). Six years ago we were living in Madison, and My husband offered my Egyptian Culinary expertise for the service of the F.O.B Quraan reciter. “think of any Egyptian food that you’re missing and my wife will make it for you for iftar… Anything?”

My husband returned home in the afternoon, and started his conversation with an apology “I am so, so, so sorry darling. I had no idea, please forgive me”

“what happened? you’re worrying me?”

Then he explained what happened.

I was seven months pregnant, fasting and freaking out “But I never made Mahshy before in my life, my mom makes it, and she makes sure she has two maids to help out when she does”

I called my mother, got the recipe, and then called another Egyptian friend to help me stuff the leaves. It was a success.

It was also a success two days ago when I ventured into the kitchen at noon and came out six hours later.

Stuffed Cabbage Leave aka Mahshy Kromb:

Ingredients:

One large green cabbage or two or three small green cabbages (In the U.S, they don’t have the large Egyptian green cabbage variety)

Four cups white short grain rice (Egyptian rice, sold in Arab food stores, or you can buy the arborio brand)

Four cups chicken broth.

three or more table spoons olive oil

Four big ripe tomatoes. (blended)

two medium sized onions (chopped very, very small)

One bunch parsley, one Bunch Cilantro and one bunch dill (stems removed and chopped small, in a food processor)

3 to 4 table spoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons cumin, paprika to taste, coriander, salt and pepper to taste.

Rice Stuffing:

In a large saucepan, add olive oil, onions cook until onions turn golden, then add blended tomatoes, cook until it turns dark red. let cool, then add rice parsley, dill, cilantro and tomato paste, add some more olive oil, then add your spices and mix until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Preparing Cabbage leaves:

1. Fill half a big pot with water, add cumin seeds or two tbsp ground cumin and some salt. Bring to boil, then lower the heat to medium.

Here’s the trickiest part:

2.Meanwhile core your Cabbage (tricky) then plunge cored side down into your boiling water, for about five minutes (you want to only loosen the leaves so they can get detached easily. You don’t want to cook the cabbage at this point since the leaves will get cooked when they are stuffed, if the leaves get over cooked they’ll fall apart with the stuffing) flip the cabbage to the other side and let it simmer for another minute. Pick up the cabbage by whatever you see fitting for this situation (I picked mine by stabbing a fork in the cored part) then pick out the loose leaves with your hands (try not to burn your hands) if the leaves are slightly attached from the top, use a knife to free it from left over cabbage heart that wasn’t cored properly. (yes I did that). Keep plunging in hot water and removing the leaves until you have a respectable stack. The small ones left in the end won’t work for stuffing anyway, so don’t bother with them.

3. Now is the fun part. Prepare the leaves you stacked to be stuffed. I cut mine in half by getting rid of the spine of the leaf  (Remember to cut along the grain)

4. Put a small amount of stuffing in your prepared leaf (if you put too much you’ll get a funny looking shape, and since rice swells when cooked some of the leaves might explode or the least ooze rice from their sides.

5. Start rolling, you can roll it the neat way– where you fold your horizontal side of the leaf over the rice, then fold again from both sides, and then roll it to the end of the leaf. Or you can choose the “easy way”, after your long hard work and just roll it without tucking the ends. (I started with the neat way, and then called it a day, and rolled the rest the “easy way”)

6. By then you should have prepared a deep pot, place in the bottom some diced potatoes or some of the cabbage leaves that you ended up not using because they looked like they were from Planet Moron. This step is necessary so you avoid your rolled leaves from sticking to the bottom of your pot.

7. Place your rolled out leaves at the bottom of the pot as you finish rolling them one by one. When you’ve covered the bottom, stack the next level in a different direction (important step, for when filliping on a plate they stay stacked and don’t fall apart), until you reach 3/4 of your pot.

8. Add four cups of boiling chicken broth, and place a heavy plate on top of your stuffed cabbages (so they don’t move out of place,) then cover with the lid.

9. Cook on low heat for half an hour or until rice is cooked and leaves are translucent.

10. Flip the pot quickly on a big serving plate, and please do enjoy all your hard work.

Now, go out yelling in the streets, I made stuffed cabbage leaves today! and (hopefully!) it was delicious!

*If you have leftover stuffing you can core and stuff bell peppers, zucchini, hard tomatoes. Or just cook the rice and enjoy it as a side dish.

Peace.

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About Muslim Hippie

Hello and welcome, you have landed yourself on this virtual space designed by your humble servant to try and escape life's unpleasantness through: selective memory musings, snippets of the world that surrounds me, and occasional insights when the light blub in this strange brain of mine flickers. No real names are displayed I'm afraid, why bother?

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