Ameena’s Egyptian Kousa
Ramadan Mubarak everyone! I’m writing this on Friday April 24th, the first day of Ramadan 2020. Our family, like all other families in Australia, is in ‘family lockdown’ because of coronavirus and the COVID-19 restrictions. This means that school has closed and we are all being told that we must stay at home and not go out.
Normally, we spend the first evening of Ramadan at our Teta’s house with our family and all our favourite foods but, like everyone else in Ramadan 2020, we are not allowed to visit our grandparents and this year we have to make it the best Ramadan ever at home.
Teta is my grandmother on my dad’s side. She is a fantastic cook and says she learned how to cook from her mother, my great grandmother, who was Lebanese, and her father, who was Palestinian. Teta is the youngest of 11: 7 boys and 4 girls. She was born and grew up in Egypt in El Zagazig and Ismailia.
My sister Aisha and I dream of going to Egypt to see the Pyramids and to meet our grandparents’ relatives. I would like to see Zagazig and Ismailia where my grandmother is from and to visit Lebanon and Palestine to find out more about my dad’s family and where his parents and grandparents and great grandparents came from.
Teta has told me that Zagazig is a city in Lower Egypt, about 75-80 kilometres from Cairo, on one of the rivers that runs into the Nile. It is home to Egypt’s cotton and grain trade, and to Zagazig University, one of the largest universities in Egypt and to a branch for Al-Azhar University, the largest Islamic university in the world. Ismailia is in the north-east of Egypt on the west bank of the Suez Canal and in Egypt. My grandfather says that people call it ‘The City of Beauty and Enchantment’.
Teta married my grandfather Gydo and they moved to Sydney when my dad was just 4 months old. They moved because they were after a better life so Teta’s brother came to Australia first and one by one he brought our family here.
Like I said, Teta loves to cook. She loves trying all sorts of new recipes but she especially loves to cook Egyptian and Palestinian recipes. She doesn’t use a recipe book but seems to hold all the ingredients in her head. She has never written her recipes down but my sister and I have started asking her to teach us her favourite recipes – as well as our favourite recipes!
So today we rang our Teta and asked for her recipes and we would like to invite you to a virtual Iftar with us to share our favourite dishes: my mum’s lentil soup, Teta’s Kousa (stuffed zucchini) and our favourite dessert Teta’s Kunefa.
This is Teta’s Ramadan Kousa recipe from Egypt, a dish she used to make with her mother, our great grandmother.
Mum’s lentil soup recipe and Teta’s Kunefa cooked by my sister Aisha can be found in the recipes page.
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Core the kousa slowly.
Soak the rice in water for 40 mins—1 hour (we used 200g of rice).
Drain the rice. Season with salt and pepper. Add 3 tbsp of oil and mix well.
Mix the mince and rice together (we used 200g of mince).
Fill the kousa about 3/4 full with the mince and rice mixture and set aside.
Boil passata with water for 7-10 mins.
Pour the passata over the kousa and cook the kousa for 45mins –1hour on the stove top low heat