Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day 169! Sudan and South Sudan - Maschi (Stuffed Tomatoes) - Up Next, Suriname


And the home construction goes on. Plaster dust everywhere, plastic on all the furniture, piles of stuff in every conceivable corner, jumbo dumpster in the driveway...I could go on and on, but if I did, that would leave me no time to cook this lovely Sudanese meal. One very important note...about a year after I started this project, South Sudan became the world's newest country, when it officially broke away from Sudan after two civil wars that spanned more than 5 decades, costing the lives of millions of Sudanese people. The map I have does not reflect this geographical shift, so I've drawn a (rough) line through Sudan to delineate the two countries (please don't hold me to exact cartographic accuracy). This blog post honors and celebrates both Sudan and South Sudan, it's people, traditions and culture.

The largest country in Africa (about the size of the U.S., east of the Mississippi River), Sudan borders the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya and Uganda.  The history of conflict between northern and southern Sudan, as well as conflict between the west and central parts of the country dates back thousands of years, and is marked by several civil wars. On July 9, 2011, South Sudan officially became an independent state. The young government faces huge economic, political, military and ethnic challenges and must now restructure and deliver basic education, health and utility needs (water, electric etc...) services to the more than 8 million people who make up this new country.This complex story can not be explained in a single paragraph, so those wishing further understanding of Sudan's history are referred to the following links: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5424.htm and http://www.goss.org/.

The country is mostly flat, with some mountainous areas to the north and south, and a troprical, humid climate to the south. Of great importance in the both countries is the Blue Nile and the White Nile, both of which provide water for agriculture, nomadic shepherds as well as transportation, trade and commerce. One of the most diverse countries in the African continent, the population is Arab/Muslim to the north and Black African/Christian animist to the south. Commerce in the country relies primarily on agriculture, oil cotton, gum for exports. Grain sorghum (dura), is the principle food crop, along with millet, wheat, sesame seeds and peanuts. Camel and sheep are exported to Egypt and other Arab countries. The country relies on imports for food, and is often beset by problems with transportation due to poor roads and mismanagement.

Sudanese cuisine varies widely by region, but includes indigenous cooking traditions, along with Arabic, Egyptian, Yemeni, Indian and Ethiopian customs. Red pepper, garlic, onions, tomatoes, okra, stews, rice, flat breads, porridge, fish and live stock are staple items.

Large, firm, slightly under-ripe tomatoes work best for this dish
Slice the tomato cross-wise, then scoop out seeds and pulp - a grapefruit spoon works well!
 All scooped out and ready to stuff
Brown beef, salt, pepper, garlic and dill
 Add one cup of cooked rice
Stuff tomatoes, and close up as best you can
 Saute on all sides until wilted and dark red
 This is not easy to do - the tomatoes kept rolling over, protesting all the way
 Mix tomato paste, water, cinnamon, garlic and salt, pour over tomatoes and simmer 15 min.
 Serve on a platter


Maschi (Stuffed Tomatoes)- Recipe courtesy of UPenn
This recipe makes 8, but I cut it in half

Filling
2 lbs. ground beef
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 cloves garlic, mashed (or 2 tsp. garlic powder)
4 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1 cup cooked rice
2 Tbsp. oil, for browning meat
8 large, very firm  tomatoes
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. oil

Sauce
2 6 ounce cans tomato paste
12 ounces of water
1 tsp. cinnamon
8 green olives (optional)

Filling Preparation
In a 9-inch skillet, heat oil then saute ground beef,  1/2 tsp. salt, pepper, 1 tsp. garlic and dill until meat browns. Add 1 cup cooked rice and blend. Cut a slit in 8 large tomatoes, half way across the center. Squeeze the sides to open the slit. Scoop out all the flesh from the inside of tomatoes with a spoon. Refill tomato with beef mixture and close tomato.

Melt 2 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet and saute the tomatoes carefully, rolling them gently until they become dark red on all sides. Remove tomatoes and place in a heavy casserole.

Sauce Preparation
Combine 2 6 ounce cans of tomato paste, thinned with 12 ounces of water, salt,  1 tsp. cinnamon and  1 tsp. garlic, then pour over tomatoes in casserole on a low flame for 10-15 minutes until sauce is cooked.
Carefully remove to a platter and top with green olives.

Final Assessment: For a relatively simple dish, sauteing stuffed tomatoes on all sides wasn't all that easy as they kept rolling over the wrong way.  Plus, the butter and oil kept splattering all over me and the stove. The taste is very mild, and will probably remind many people of stuffed peppers. Tomatoes can be substituted and stuffed for cucumbers or eggplant as well, which would probably be very good. A lovely, simple dish that goes well with flat bread or sliced cucumbers.

© 2010-2011, What's Cooking in Your World? Sarah Commerford/All Rights Reserved

10 comments:

H. A said...

Maschi –Mahshi- usually means 'stuffed' and you can pretty much stuff any vegetable you want. The way I've always seen it cooked, is this, in case you'd ever want to try it again :)

1.Cut off the head of the vegetable, and then scoop out the pulp inside. Place the cut off head to the side to use as a cover.

2.Use small rice, similar to sushi rice, don't cook it beforehand.

3.Add lemon and tamarind (remove seeds, melt down with hot water and strain) salt.

4.Cook minced meat to the side, adding spices, minced bell pepper and minced tomatoes and minced onions.

5.Combine rice and minced meat and stuff the vegetables. For tomatoes and others that don't have a hard shell, wrap them in foil after you are done.

6.Place vegetables in large pot, placing something at the bottom so nothing gets burnt (usually slices of potato) and set them in, tomatoes and bell peppers if used, stay at the top.

7. Pour the sauce of tomato paste, lemon, tamarind, over, making sure it covers the vegetables.

8. Set on low heat, covered and wait for rice to cook through and sauce to reduce.

This might not be the Sudani way, but it would be a shame if you could never enjoy exactly why this dish is so loved everywhere. :)

It takes a lot of preparation and a long while to cook, so it's not made on a regular basis. Common vegetables used in a Mahshi are zucchini, the small purple eggplants with a harder shell, bell peppers (any color, depending on how sweet you want the dish) some adventures people attempt potato, though it takes a while to cook.

It's all about timing, not over-cooking or undercooking, and having good spices in the meat, and a good base sauce to balance the flavors.

sadie said...

Many, Many Thanks, H.A! I rely on the kindness and generosity of readers like you to help me with genuine recipes. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it when I get the "real deal" from readers who truly know what the authentic dishes are! I've printed out your recipe and will absolutely try it! Are you Sudanese??

witchywoman said...

Pretty interesting and looks like it tastes great, too! I'm finishing up Chile tonight...we may be doing Suriname the same week depending on my vote goes...LOL! Great post, Sarah, I really enjoyed this! xoxo

H.A said...

No, I'm Kuwaiti, and I've been following your blog for quite a while!
I just love this challenge you've set up, and how kind and informative your tidbits of information are on all countries.

This how my mother usually cooks Mahshi, whom also told me that it's originally a part of Egyptian cuisine. So they all follow the basic same steps, and change occurs with the vegetables, sweetness, saltiness or sourness of the dish. There's also the no meat option.

You're very much welcome, and thank /you/ for all those wonderful recipes and posts. :)

sadie said...

Hi Laurrie! Looking forward to seeing what you're going to do. Wooh, whoo, witchy woman, see how awesome she cooksssss...Okay, so the Eagles would be horrified, but I'm always impressed with the amazing meals you put together. Still researching Suriname! xoxo

sadie said...

Hi H.A.!

I love that you shared your mother's special cooking technique with me! Please thank her personally :) If YOU have a special recipe from Kuwait you'd like to share with me, I'd love to make it and spotlight you and your special traditions. It would be my honor! Thank you again!! xoxo

food solutions said...

ohhhhhhhhhh my god..sooo yumy :)

sadie said...

Thank you! And thanks for stopping by, Food Solutions! :)

Lucia said...

Ottimi!!! :-)

sadie said...

Grazie mille, Lucia!!! :-)