A taste of Arabic culture was found in grape leaves, rice, onions, olive oil and tomatoes last Thursday.
About 20 people came to the UF Arabic Student Association’ first Mahshi Night. For more than three hours, students made and ate mahshi, a dish made of vegetables such as grape leaves stuffed with rice, at a member’s apartment.
The event celebrated mahshi because it reminded those of Arab culture of their roots and educated those who have never tasted the dish, said Ibrahim Ragab, a 21-year-old UF biology senior and president of the association.
“We wanted to bring a little bit of the Arab world home,” Ragab said.
The recipe differs across the spectrum of Arab countries, Ragab said. At the event, the group used the leaves of the grapevine plant, onions and tomatoes as their vegetables of choice.
Participants at the event started off by soaking the grape leaves for about two to three hours, then cooking the rice and adding seasoning. Once the grape leaves finish, they’re rinsed, drained, removed of stems and added with stuffing. They are then rolled tightly, much like a burrito. Once rolled, they are placed into a pan with added lime juice, tomatoes and olive oil. Lastly, they are baked in a oven at 325 degrees and left for about an hour.
The club spent about $160 buying supplies from Amazon and Publix, Ragab said. The Mahshi Night allowed association members to bond with students who have never made mahshi before.
“I loved that we got to show them our culture,” Ibrahim said. “With how Arab people are seen today it’s good for them to see us as normal people.”
Hassan Moussa, a 19-year-old UF chemistry sophomore who has been in the association for two years, led everyone in making the mahshi.
The dish is hard to make correctly, Moussa said. The cooking process is time consuming and meticulous.
“Many Arabs have had it before, seen their mothers make it but never learned themselves,” Moussa said.
Jasmine Iturres, a 18-year old UF chemistry freshman is Colombian but her roomate, who is Lebanese and Syrian, took her to the event. It was her first time having mahshi, and said she enjoyed experiencing a different culture while being able to devour a new food.
“It makes you more open minded as a person,” Iturres said. “I’ve learned about a food I’ve never heard before and made it by exposing myself to Arab culture.”
Ibrahim Ragab shows Adam Solomon how to properly roll Mahshi, a of stuffed grape leaves dish, last Thursday night.