Onion Mahshi (Onions Stuffed With Beef and Rice)

Nina Dahan

1 ½ hours

4 to 6 servings

Stuffed onions on blue plate
Photo by Dave Katz.

Stuffing onion sleeves requires a bit of practice and patience, but the reward is well worth it. These ones are filled with beef and arborio rice and then simmered in a sweet and tangy sauce made with pomegranate molasses and a touch of sugar. The recipe is from Nina Dahan’s family, who left Beirut for Western Europe in 1970 and later settled in New York City. They serve the recipe for holidays including Sukkot when stuffed vegetables, which nod to an abundant harvest, are traditional. 

Read more about Nina’s family on the Jewish Food Society and find a recipe for her stuffed zucchini here. 



  • 4 large yellow onions
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ¾ cup arborio rice
  • 1 tablespoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • For the sauce:
  • ½ cup pomegranate molasses
  • ½ cup water
  • 1½ tablespoon salt
  • 1  teaspoon sugar


  1. Fill up a large pot halfway with water and bring it to a boil over high heat.
  2. Peel and cut off the roots off of the onions. Make a slit lengthwise halfway through the onion (cutting to the center but stopping there).
  3. Once the water is boiling, add the onions into the pot and boil for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the onions soften and their layers start separating. Drain the onions and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  4. Make the stuffing: Place the beef, allspice, rice, and salt into a bowl and mix until combined. 
  5. Gently peel the layers of each onion, making sure each layer stays intact and does not tear.
  6. Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture along one end of the inside of a piece of onion. Roll up the onion layer to seal the meat mixture and create a torpedo shape. Repeat, filling and shaping the remaining onion layers with the meat mixture.
  7. Preheat the oven to 360°F.
  8. Make the sauce: Place the pomegranate molasses, water, salt, and sugar into a bowl and mix until combined. 
  9. Place the onions into a medium sized baking pan. Pack the stuffed onions tightly, stacking them into two layers if needed.
  10. Pour the sauce over the onions. Add enough water to cover ¾ the way up the onions. Cover the baking pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the rice and meat is cooked. Uncover and continue cooking for another 15 to 20 minutes until the sauce thickens. 
  11. Serve hot.

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