Zhajiangmian

Grandmas Project - Mehchi

In this piece from the Grandmas Project, Mathias cooks stuffed lebanese grape leaves called Mehchi in Arabic, with his Grandmother Rosa in Brazil. A true cross-cultural influence! Mathias was born in 1982 in São Paulo and grew up in Paris. His grandma Rosa personifies his unbreakable connection to Brazil. Rosa Milan, who was born in 1917 in a family with Lebanese origins, believed in hard work as a way to face the death of her beloved husband at age 48. While cooking Rosa discusses what it was like growing up in a patriarchial Arabic household. Rosa says to Mathias, "this food represents your childhood." Though the family was based in Brazil, Rosa never wanted her children and grandchildren to forget their Lebanese heritage. In this recipe for Mehchi, you will need: 

  •     1kg of vine leaves
  •     500g minced meat
  •     1 glass of white rice
  •     Salt & Aleppo pepper
  •     2 tomatoes
  •     Butter or olive oil 

1. Boil some water and add vine leaves for 5 to 7 minutes. Then, leave them to cool. It’s an important step to make them smooth and be able to roll them after.

2. Mix the minced meat and the white rice. Add salt and Aleppo pepper.

3. Cut the leaf stalks, place them in the vein in front of you.

4. Set down a spoon of meat on the bottom of the leave; put down the two slides of the leave into the middle, roll until the end of the leave.

5. Fill the bottom of a pot with the vine leaves in order to easily turn them out at the end. Arrange them very tight and in circle. That way, they won’t fall apart during the cooking time.

6. Peel the 2 tomatoes, cut them in slices and put them on the top of the stuffed vine leaves.

7. Poor 7 fl oz of water in the pot, a trickle of olive oil and a knob of butter.

8. Cover the pot and let it cook at least 2 hours. Add some water if needed.

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