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Onion Mechshi (Syrian Meat-Stuffed Onions)


Contrary to the belief of some European Jews, there are many Sephardic foods that aren’t spicy – they’re lemony, sweet, and sour. I learned this traditional Syrian recipe from my husband’s Sito (grandmother), translated from Arabic to English.   Watch All Spice with Shoshana Farhi for more classical Sephardic cooking!


Prepare the Onion Mechshis

1. Cut off top and bottom of each onion, and slice vertically until midway through.
2. Add onions to a large pot of water. Add one tablespoon of salt and boil until soft enough to peel layers, but not mushy, about 20 to 30 minutes. Once soft, drain and set onions aside in a bowl to cool.
3. In a separate bowl, combine chopped meat and washed raw rice. Add allspice, cinnamon, and salt to taste. Add half a cup of water and hand-mix to combine and evenly distribute spices.
4. Once cool, onion layers should separate easily. Peel away a layer and place a scoop of the meat mixture about the size of a large meatball inside, press down, and roll up as tightly as possible, then pack the onion rolls into the pot. Nestle them closely so they don’t have room to open up.

Prepare the Sauce

1. Mix all sauce ingredients except salt together, taste for balance of sweet and sour, and adjust to your taste. Then add the salt.
2. Pour the sauce into the pot and add water to just below the height of the onions. (Tip: put an upside-down plate on top of the stuffed onions to retain moisture, then cover the pot.)
3. Cover the pot and bring to a boil on the stovetop. Lower flame to medium heat, adding extra water as needed. Simmer for two hours. Check that the rice is cooked thoroughly.
4. Uncover the pot (and remove the plate with a spoon – it’ll be hot!). The sauce should be slightly thickened.



• Prior to cooking in sauce, the stuffed onion mechshis may be frozen on a tray.

• After cooking, the mechshis freeze well if they are in one layer in sauce.