kousa bi laban (Zucchinis in yogurt)

kousa bi laban or Zucchinis in yogurt  is a traditional and delicious syrian and Middle Eastern main dish specally in Ramadan.

It is Cored and stuffed baby zucchini, filled with herbal spiced rice mixtures and cooked in a garlicky yogurt sauce. The sauce is a combination of Arabic laban, which is fermented sheep’s milk and regular full-fat yogurt, giving it a really unctuous flavor. If you can’t find sheep’s milk yogurt, using 100% regular full-fat yogurt works as well.

In south Syrians, it is called (kousa mehshi) and in the south is (sheikh al mehshi), but both of them are cooked exactly the same.




- 1 kg baby zucchini

- 1 kg ground meat

- 2 medium-cup rise, rinsed until water runs clear

- 2 tsp 7 spices

- 2 Tbsp dried mint, divided

- 1 Tbsp safflower

- 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp minced garlic

- salt

- 2 tsp black pepper

- 1 kg yogurt

- 1/4 c corn starch

- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil

- A couple sprigs of fresh mint for garnish



- Prepare the baby zucchini by coring them with a corer

- In a large mixing bowl, combine the rinsed rice, meat, 7 spices, 1 Tbsp dried mint, 1 tsp minced garlic, safflower, salt and pepper.

- Put the filling into the baby zucchini until about 3/4 of the way full.

- Bring the water to a boil and add 1 Tbsp of garlic and 1 Tbsp dried mint. Add the stuffed zucchini, cover, reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes.

- Drain the zucchini, reserving the liquid.

- Combine the corn starch with 2 Tbsp water.. add yogurt, cornstarch and water mixture and vegetable oil and cook over high heat, whisking constantly, until it comes to a boil. Then, add the stuffed zucchini, and cook for about 15 minutes.

- Place in a large serving bowl and garnish with fresh mint. Be sure not to cover the yogurt until completely cool.


Lara Khouli