Friday, June 13, 2014

Koshari from Egypt

When I first saw a recipe for koshari, I thought you must be kidding me!  Rice, lentils and pasta?  Seriously?  And this is the most popular street food in Egypt and some even call it the national dish?  There must be a mistake.  The more research I did, the more I found it wasn't a mistake.  I was intrigued as to how it would all come together to make a tasty dish.  What I found out, was not only was it delicious but it was incredibly easy to make.  So here is my take on koshari, ideal for vegetarians and perfect for beginner cooks.
1 cup brown lentils
9 cups water
1 cup basmati rice
1 cup uncooked pasta (Macaroni or similar)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground bay leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
2 large onions thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon baharat spice*
Put 3 cups of water in a pot with 1 cup of lentils.  Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat.  Add in the salt, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon of garlic and cumin.  Cover the pot and let it simmer for 30 minutes.  Keep an eye on the lentils that all the water doesn't cook away.  If need be top up the water.  When the lentils are soft, add the rice and another 3 cups of the water and continue simmering for about 20 minutes until the rice is cooked.  In the meantime, cook the pasta in the remaining 3 cups of water in a separate pot.  Drain the excess water from the pasta when it is done and set the pasta aside.  In a frying pan, fry the onions and garlic until it is caramelised.  Add the tomatoes, chili powder, black pepper, vinegar and baharat spice and let it cook for 10 minutes until it forms a thick sauce.
The time has come to assemble your dish.  Place some of the lentil/rice mixture on each plate.  Put a couple of spoonfuls of pasta on top and finish it off with the spicy tomato sauce.
*baharat spice is a Middle Eastern spice blend.  If you don't have a Middle Eastern store near you it's quite easy to make yourself.  Fill a container with it to get that special Middle Eastern flavour in your cooking.  All you need to do is mix together: 2 teaspoons paprika, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves.
Cindy Vine is a South African currently living and working in Kyiv in Ukraine. She is the author of Hush Baby, Defective, C U @ 8, Not Telling and The Case of Billy B. All her books are available on Amazon in both print and Kindle format.

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