Libb il Kusa with Fresh Mint Recipe
For some reason my sister and I have been reminiscing about our belated grandmother, sharing memories and recollections of our summers at her Mamlouky house in the old quarters of Damascus. Tete Amneh was one of those grandmothers a lucky child would be blessed to have. She was loving, caring, giving, nurturing, patient and selfless. She made sure we were loved, happy, attended to, fed and enjoying being children, a gift she was never afforded as a child orphaned at the age of 8 taking care of her two siblings and growing up during the depression era. This is what made tete Amneh the umbrella that protected everyone she loved.
As a child, the Islamic celebration of Eid was the day we all patiently waited for. It was collection day for us, where relatives traditionally give children money to spend on whatever they fancied. Tete always gave us a one Syrian Lira bill that was new from the bank (or khlinge as we say in colloquial Arabic). It was not much but for her it was a lot, and for us it was enough to visit Abu Ahmed (meaning the father of Ahmad), sitting in his small two by two candy shop on his stool waiting for his daily wee customers like us.
The first day of Eid is also dedicated to visiting the relatives starting with tete. Everyone loved tete, who was the mother that glued our big family together. The first day of Eid was a full house of over 50 relatives from 4 generations. All the ladies would roll up their sleeves and start preparing simple inexpensive delectable dishes such as Mutabal, babaghanouge, hummus, fasuliah bil zait, bulgur banadoura, fried vegetables, lentil soup, radish salad and more, some of which I have already shared with you and others I will be in due course. Tete Amneh passed away 30 years ago on 18th Ramadan. Her legacy continues to live one way or another through those whom were touched by her blessing. I have been kindling her legacy this Ramadan by honouring her dishes and sharing them with you.
Libb il kusa is an authentic Damascene vegetarian dish that we love, which, for some reason, one would never find served at a restaurant. It is usually cooked using the core of the zucchini prepared for stuffing with rice and meat. Of course, nothing goes to waste, so the core (lib) is cooked using five simple ingredients that carry together a lot of weight in flavour. The addition of the garlic and mint at the end lifts the dish to a higher level, as the aroma of the garlic and mint would instantly bring that smile to your face and tantalise the taste buds. I can’t say enough to describe this dish but once you try it maybe you can finish describing it for me.
I have prepared this dish by shredding the zucchini; this way I don’t have to wait for the day I am making stuffed zucchini to have it, but rather as and when I fancy it.
Don’t forget to send me you photos of the dish you prepared.
Servings: 1 as sharing platter
1/2 kilogram zucchini (kusa)
1 cup onions, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh mint, chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
1. Wash the zucchini and cut off the top and the bottom parts.
2. Coarsely shred the zucchini and set aside.
3. Fry the onion in a pan with the olive oil until translucent, then add the shredded zucchini and salt.
4. Cook on medium heat stirring every now and again until the zucchini is soft, the liquid has evaporated, and it is starting to slightly scorch around 20 minutes. At this point adjust the salt and add the mint and garlic then cook for a further 3 minutes.
5. Serve warm or cold with Arabic bread and raw onions.
* Dried mint can be used when fresh mint is not available.
* Eat warm or cold and drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil.
Per Serving : 879 Calories; 82g Fat (80.7% calories from fat); 9g Protein; 35g Carbohydrate; 11g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 31mg Sodium.