History and Curiosity
Mutawam kusa is a grilled garlic zucchini sauce, and it is a great way to prepare zucchini in an original and tasty way.
Mutawam in Arabic means ‘seasoned with garlic’, while kusa is the word for zucchini.
Traditionally, zucchini were prepared in taboon ovens (photo 1). People used to grill zucchini using the oven’s residual heat after baking taboon bread.
An important note to ensure the success of this recipe is that the zucchini used in Palestine are different: they are paler and have a lower water content. Hence, they are crunchier than the super long, darker-skinned variety that is more popular in Europe. You can still use the other type of zucchini, but they will have to be grilled for longer.
To prepare this recipe, the zucchini are first grilled directly on the flame to make them soft and with a smoky aftertaste. Then, they are mixed with Greek yoghurt and labneh, garlic (a must!) and mint to balance everything with a pinch of freshness.
The real protagonist, however, is olive oil, the undisputed king of Palestinian cuisine. It might seem simple, but we promise you will be speechless after the first taste!
Wash the zucchini, remove the top and cut each one into four lengthwise. Then, grill the zucchini in the oven at 180°C for an hour and a half or two hours, depending on the power of your oven. Or, if you want to cook mutawam kusa the traditional way, you can also grill the zucchini directly over the flame.
Peel the zucchini, trying to remove only the skin, leaving as much pulp as possible. Finely chop the zucchini and then mix the zucchini with the yoghurt, garlic, mint, labneh and salt.
Once ready, place the mixture in the fridge in an airtight container for at least an hour to allow the flavours to blend.
Add olive oil when serving, and enjoy with warm bread and green olives!