Sheikh El Mahshi, literally meaning king of mahshi, is made with spiced minced meat stuffed into roasted eggplants then oven-baked in a rich tomato sauce. This stuffed eggplant is rich in flavor, packed with nutrients, and also super easy to make.
A lot of people think this is a difficult recipe (maybe because of the name?) but it's actually quite easy. And if you like mahshi, check out this kousa mahshi recipe!
What I Love About This Recipe
This stuffed roasted eggplant in tomato sauce is gorgeous! This is one of those dishes that looks glorious coming out of the oven with layers of red tomato rings on top of a bed of cooked eggplants. I also love that it is really easy to put together. You just need to bring a few layers together and the result? A large casserole big enough to feed the entire family.
- Eggplants: Eggplants are the main ingredient for Sheikh El Mahshi. Use small eggplants like Japanese eggplant or Fairy Tale eggplant.
- Tomato: Use medium ripe tomatoes rather than fully ripe ones as the former taste better when roasted.
- Tomato paste: Any type of tomato paste works for this recipe.
- Minced meat: Use ground beef, ground lamb, or a mix of lamb and beef.
- Onion: Use brown onion, sweet onion, or white onion.
- Pine nuts: These are optional but are a great addition to the stuffing if you have them on hand.
- Spices: For the stuffing we use a mix of allspice, Lebanese seven spices, some ground cinnamon and salt. Use store-bought seven spices or a homemade seven spice blend.
- Butter: My grandma cooks the stuffing with a bit of butter. You can choose to do without it or substitute it with oil.
- Pomegranate molasses: I like to drizzle a little in the stuffing. I promise it adds a magical touch.
See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for quantities.
How To Make Sheikh El Mahshi
Start by placing the eggplants in an ovenproof dish and baking them in the oven for around 10 minutes at 375 ℉ (190 ℃) (just so that they get a bit of color and are half roasted).
Prepare the minced meat stuffing on the stove. Melt the butter, add the meat in and start breaking it up using a wooden spoon. Add in the onion, spices, pine nuts, and pomegranate molasses (if using). Set aside.
Create a cut down the center of each eggplant, spread it out a bit to make space for the stuffing. Place a large spoon of the meat stuffing in each eggplant.
Once all the eggplants are stuffed, start topping them with tomato slices until they're all covered.
Then mix the tomato paste with water and pour over the casserole until all the eggplants are covered with liquid.
Put the dish in the oven and bake 350 ℉ (180 ℃) for around an hour until the tomato sauce thickens a bit and the tomato slices are fully roasted.
Tips and Tricks
- Roast the eggplants in the oven before stuffing them with minced meat. I learned this trick from my grandma and it helps to ensure you get the most perfectly cooked final result.
- Pick small-sized eggplants. Large eggplants need more time to roast, and the eggplant to minced meat ratio will be off. Small-sized eggplants are about 2" in diameter and 8" in length.
- Don't overstuff the eggplants because the stuffing will end up falling into the sauce.
Variations and Substitutions
- Vegan sheikh el mahshi: In this version, you can substitute the meat stuffing with a quinoa/rice and vegetable stuffing. Vegetables you can use include carrots, peas, mushrooms and broccoli.
- Sheikh boats: I once made this recipe (and named it) when I couldn't find small sized eggplants. I simply cut a large eggplant in half, cored it a bit, stuffed each side with meat, topped my boats with tomatoes and popped the dish in the oven!
- Ovenproof baking dish: 9" x 13" glass, metal, or ceramic baking dish.
- Pan: Nonstick large frying pan.
- Good quality knife: To make the perfect stuffing pockets.
- Round soup spoon: To stuff the eggplants.
Stuffed eggplants should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. They last for up to 4 days. This recipe does not freeze well.
Sheikh El Mahshi literally translates into the "Chief/king of Mahshi." It gets its name because it's stuffed with more superior ingredients (meat, pine nuts) when compared to other mahshi dishes like kousa mahshi (which is mainly stuffed with rice and some meat).
A side of Lebanese vermicelli rice is the perfect companion to this dish. I also sometimes serve it with a cup of yogurt on the side.
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For the casserole:
- 2 lbs small-sized eggplants
- 6 large tomatoes sliced into rounds
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 cups of water
For the stuffing:
- ½ lb minced beef or lamb meat
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses optional
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon seven spices
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- salt to taste
- Wash and peel the eggplants. Place them in an ovenproof baking dish and half roast them in the oven 375 ℉ (190 ℃) for about 10 minutes or until they start changing in color.
- Melt the butter in a sauté pan. Add the minced meat. Cook for a few minutes until browned. Mix in the onions, spices, and pine nuts. Cook for a few minutes. Remove from the heat. Drizzle with the pomegranate molasses.
- Create a cut in the eggplants so that you have a pocket to place the stuffing in. Fill each cut with a spoon of stuffing.
- Top the casserole with the sliced tomatoes.
- Mix the tomato paste with water and pour over the eggplants until they're all covered.
- Bake the dish in the oven 350 ℉ (180 ℃) for around an hour.
- Serve hot alongside Lebanese vermicelli rice.