Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shiekho/ Koosa bi laban

I love this dish so much, i am a huge fan of yogurt and koosa (the arabic squash). Every time i hear shiekho i start laughing because i remember when we were younger in Syria and one of my siblings had a tutor to learn arabic and we would call her teacher shiekho because he smelled like it. I don't know how you can smell like shiekho but i thought it was hilarious and it stuck. Anyways this dish is really easy to make it is just a little time consuming if it is the first time you are making this. I am proud to say that the other day I had this dinner ready from start to finish in a little over an hour (including the rice). This is a great dish to make for guests or just for your family. My Mom made this in a healthy way and later on in the post i will describe how exactly she made it, the healthy version tastes the exact same but it just looks different. My MIL also makes this in a healthy way but that involves boiling the koosa which i refuse to try. Anyways this is how i make Shiekho
When you find koosa try and pick out really small ones, this dish doesn't work with big ones.
Cut off the top part and the bottom brown part but try not to cut too much off.
Next you just empty out the inside of the koosa. I have this new cool gadget that i just spin and it removes almost all of the inside.
See it all comes out in one big curl
You want to remove the seeds but don't make it too thin because this dish is best when there is still koosa "meat" unlike mahashi where we try and get the koosa as thin as possible.
Fry the koosa in hot oil. This is where i think i should explain how my mom makes here healthy shiekho. She cuts the koosa in half and with a spoon removes some of the seeds but like barely she then roasts them in an oven with some olive oil and then she spoons over the meat and yogurt. It tastes the exact same but is healthier (I actually prefer it but we are going traditional over here).
Don't overcrowd the pot i usually do 4 at a time.
Remember the inside of the koosa that we scrapped out....DON"T THROW IT AWAY. This may be the best part of making a koosa dish. Syrian (and I am sure some arab countries) make 2 dishes with this one of lib (which is what we call the inside of the koosa) and the other is ajeh which is like a hush puppy but with spices and koosa instead of potato.
Drain the koosa on a paper towel to remove as much oil as possible and let them cool down until your able to handle them.
In the meantime cook some ground meat
Add in pine nuts
Add in arabic mixed spice and salt
When the meat it done cooking let it cool and work on the yogurt. In a big pot with a strainer over it i add yogurt and egg and cornstarch.
Once everything has gone through the strainer i add some water and let it come to a boil.
This is the yogurt boiling, when you see the sides starting to boil then whisk it together again and let it cook. I try not to let it boil too much but if it does it is not a big deal because it wont curdle because you added the egg and cornstarch which stabilizes the yogurt.
While the yogurt cooks stuff the koosa with the ground meat and pine nut mixture. be gentile because the koosa are soft and you don't want to break them. I fill the koosa up but i dont pack the meat it.
Once the Koosa is stuffed then gently put them in the cooked yogurt (make sure the yogurt is on low because if it starts boiling at this point you wont be able to whisk it up because the koosa are so soft)
Place the open end up
Slowly cover the koosa with yogurt and let it relax for about 15 minutes for the yogurt to take the taste of the koosa. Again try not to let it boil but if it does then before you serve place all the koosa in the serving dish and whisk the yogurt and then pour it over.
Done. I serve it with rice and a sprinkle of black pepper.
Some people use any left over ground meat to sprinkle on top of the yogurt or rice so don't worry if you have any left over.

Written Recipe:
12 - 14 small mexican squash (koosa)
1 cup of ground meat
1 teaspoon of mixed arabic spice
oil to fry
handful of pine nuts (a little less then 1/4 cup)
1 container of yogurt (about 3 cups)
1 egg
1 tablespoon of cornstarch
1/2 to 3/4 cup of water
salt to taste


  1. Where can you buy the gadget you use to remove the inside of the kousa?

  2. I found it in CA at arabic grocery stores and i know they have it in MI in dearborn...if ur going over seas or no anyone they can get it for you. I saw them a long time ago in Syria (soq hamidiyeh) but never got one until recently.

  3. Hey Maysa, I was wondering why do you have to put the yogurt concoction through a strainer as a step??

  4. i put mine through a strainer so that you make sure there are no lumps in the yogurt and the egg mixes in well. My MIL and some other people i know put it all in a blender then just put it in the pot but i like my strainer

  5. mmmmmm.. looks amazing.. u know, i stuff the koosa before frying them, it's a lot easier to stuff them that way.

  6. hafarit koosa? honestly i dont know if there is a name in english because Americans dont usually hollow out their veggies this way. If you go to an Arabic store you might be able to find one.

  7. i actually don't fry the koosa, i don't fry period!
    Instead i boil my kosa in water with bit of salt til their soft not very soft though. Then i place them in yogurt . i fi need extra water i'll use the water from the kosa to put in yogurt..

  8. hi- when you say mixed Arabic spice, which spices exactly are you referring to? i dont like to buy spice mixes- i make my own- Lebanese/Syrian grocery stores are accessible in my area so i am sure i can find the spices and make the mix myself. lovely dish. x s

  9. Mixed arabic spice is also called arabic seven spice mix. You can make your own, i have and my mom always does. I know that there are the following spices in it but not sure about the amounts. There are recipes online you can follow. My moms spice mix does taste much better then the store bought one. Ok here is what is in it:
    black pepper
    some people add fenugreek and paprika too.