Muslim Matrimonials and More's Recipes


Stuffed Onion Rolls (Mahshi Bassal)


  • 3 very large Spanish onions
  • 1-2 Tbs pomegranate syrup or tamarind paste
  • 2-3 Tbs sugar
  • 3 Tbs sunflower oil


  • 750 g (1-1/2 lb) minced beef or veal
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 7 grams (1/2 cup) mint
  • large bunch of parsley, finely chopped

Peel the onions and cut off the ends. Using a sharp knife, cut from teh top to bottom on one side of each onion through to the centre only and no further. Boil for about 15 minutes or until the onions soften and start to open so that each layer can be detached. Drain and separate each layer carefully.

Knead the ingredients for the stuffing. Put a walnut-sized lump into each onion layer and roll up tightly. Line the bottom of a large, heavy saucepan with the unused small bits of onion and pack the rolls tightly over them in layers. Dissolve the pomegranate syrup or the tamarind concentrate in 300 ml (10 fl oz) boiling water. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and the oil and pour over the onions. Add more water to cover and place a plate on top to hold them down.

Simmer gently for about 30 minutes, or until the onions are very tender and the water mainly absorbed, adding a little water to cover, if necessary, during the cooking. Turn out the onion rolls and place them in circles in a large, flat ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and place them under the grill for a few minutes to give them an attractive brown colour and a carmelised flavour. Serve hot or cold.

Serves 6-8.

From "Mediterranean Cookery" by Claudia Roden


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