koshary

Koshary

I’ve been thinking a lot about Egypt lately since the news coming out of the Middle East is intense to say the least. Since, lately, the news has been all bad, I wanted to share something amazing to come out of Egyptian culture - Koshary. Koshary is a staple street food in Egypt and is beyond delicious.

“Koshary originated in the mid 19th century, during a time when Egypt was a multi-cultural country and the economy was booming. The lower-class’ usually limited pantry became full with a myriad of ingredients: lentils, rice, pasta, chickpeas, tomato sauce, onions, garlic, oil, etc. At the end of the month, families would usually have a little left of everything, so families would use it up by putting it all together into a tasty dish.”*

This recipe is a little time consuming, but the results are worth it!

Ingredients:

  • 2 (14.5 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed**
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ (16 ounce) package ditalini pasta
  • 1 ½ cups short-grain rice, rinsed
  • cold water, to cover
  • 1 ½ cups dark brown lentils
  • water, to cover
  • 1 pinch salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (14 ounce) can crushed tomatoes**
  • 1 tablespoon oil (canola, olive oil, vegan margarine)
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 (3 ounce) can French-fried onions
** I doubled the amount of chickpeas and crushed tomatoes and I think it was just the right amount. You can adjust that according to your taste.   Directions:
  1. Combine the chickpeas, vinegar, coriander, cayenne pepper, and cumin in a resealable bag or container with a tight-fitting lid. Store in refrigerator while prepping remainder of dish, shaking occasionally.
  2. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Cook the ditalani pasta in the boiling water until cooked through yet firm to the bite, about 8 minutes; drain and set aside.
  3. Combine the rice with enough cold water to cover; allow to soak for 20 minutes. Drain.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the lentils with enough water to cover in a pot; season with salt and pepper. Bring the lentils to a boil and cook at a boil until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat; cook and stir the onion and garlic in the hot oil until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, reduce heat to medium-low, and maintain at a simmer while preparing remainder of dish.
  6. Add the oil to a pot over medium-high heat. Add the rice to the oil, increase heat to high, and fry for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour the vegetable stock over the rice; bring to a boil. Season the rice mixture with salt and pepper, reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and cook until rice is tender, and the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  7. Mix the rice and lentils together on a large serving platter. Spread the cooked ditalani over the rice and lentil mixture. Serve with the marinated chickpeas, the tomato sauce, and the French-fried onions as condiments.

* From Wikipedia

via: All Recipes

Kushari

Considered to be the Egyptian national dish, it consists of pasta and tomato sauce, among other items, including rice, lentils, caramelized onions, garlic and chickpeas. Having four sources of carbohydrates has made it the most popular lunch item in most common food outlets in Egypt for over 100 years. Interestingly enough, Kushari’s origins are not Egyptian at all, in fact it was a dish brought in by the British army in Egypt in the 19th century: the pasta was imported from Italy, the tomatoes are from Latin America and the rice from Asia, however the idea to mix them all together in one extremely delicious and vegetarian dish was conceived in Egypt.

A Haiku Ode to Koshary, My Favorite Egyptian Food

How Do I Love Thee, Koshary?

Let me count the carbs:

Spaghetti, macaroni

Rice, lentils, chickpeas!

[With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning.]

I’ll spare you any further faux-etry other than to say that koshary - an Egyptian street food dish that I like to pretend means “Festival of Carbs” in Arabic - speaks right to my soul.

Because really, why shouldn’t you put all the carbs together in one dish? Who says you can’t mix pasta and rice? Why wouldn’t you enjoy a dish for which the sponsorship slogan could be “Koshary: Brought to You by Carbs.”

To these and other questions, the Egyptians say tafaddali (go on, gurl). And especially in light of recent events, I am not one to argue with the will of the Egyptian people.

Koshary is not a dish I’ve seen much outside of Egypt, but if you live in Dubai you can now get half-decent koshary delivered right to your doorstep courtesy of Zaroob on Sheikh Zayed Road. Order some manakish while you’re at it and you can have yourself a proper little pan-Arab feast

And remember… you’ve got the culinary predilections of 80 million Egyptians backing you on your undeniable right to excessive carbs. 

(Pictured here with leftover Garlicky Roasted Chickpeas from that recipe that everyone on Tumblr’s been raving about lately. I felt fairly “meh” about them… but then again, who needs side dishes when you’ve got ALL THE CARBS?)