Egyptian cooking chronicles – Koshari

Koshari is a very popular dish in Egypt.  It consists of mixture of pasta, rice, chick peas and lentils, which are covered in a tomato sauce and topped with fried onions.  I’ve had the opportunity to try it a few times at restaurants, but I wanted to give making my own a shot.  I must say it turned out even better than I was expecting.  It’s a bit time consuming to prepare, but I can definitely see this recipe becoming part of our regular menu.

koshari ingredients

Ingredients (serves 4 people)

Koshari
1.5 cups ditalini dried pasta
1 14 oz can of chick peas (drained and rinsed)
3/4 cup brown lentils
3/4 cup rice
1.5 cups of chicken stock
1 tsp butter
1 14 oz can of tomatoes
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1 small onion (diced)
3-4 small cloves of garlic (minced)
salt and pepper to taste
hot sauce (optional)

Most recipes call for french fried onions to be used as garnish, but since I don’t like the pre-made ones, I decided to make my own.

French fried onions
1-2 small onions (sliced very thinly)
1 cup buttermilk (or use regular milk with 1 tsp white vinegar)
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
oil for frying

Directions

I started by making the french fried onions.  First I soaked the onion slices in buttermilk for about 10 minutes.

DSCF2564

I then put my oil in a frying pan on the stove top.  Apparently you want it to get to around 350 degrees, but since I don’t have a thermometer, I just winged it.

While I was waiting for the oil to heat up, I mixed the dry ingredients – flour, salt, pepper and cayenne.  I tossed the onions in the batter and made sure they were completely covered.  When the oil was hot enough I threw them in and cooked until they were golden brown.  They turned out really well.

frying onions

finished fried onions

After this I worked on the koshari itself.

First I mixed the chickpeas, red wine vinegar, cumin, coriander and cayenne together.  I let them marinate in the fridge while I worked on everything else.

chick peas
Next I moved onto the lentils.  You can follow the directions on the package for this, but since mine were in arabic, I just rinsed them and put into a pot with water and a pinch of salt and pepper.  I simmered them for about 30 minutes.
brown lentils
Then I prepared the rice.  For this I melted butter in a pot and then threw in the rice and cooked it for a couple of minutes.  I then added chicken stock and cooked for about 20 minutes more.

Then I cooked the pasta.

And finally I prepared the sauce.  To do this I added a little oil in a pan and cooked the onions and garlic for a few minutes.  I then added the canned tomatoes.  I found that my tomatoes were in a rather thick sauce, so I added a little extra water to thin it out.  And lastly I added salt and pepper to taste.
sauce, rice, and lentil/chickpea mixture
Next step was to assemble the koshari.  The recipe that I was using as a guide said to layer the pasta, rice, chick peas and lentils, which I believe is how it’s traditionally served, however, I wanted my chick peas warmed up.  Also my lentils had been sitting for a while so I wanted them a little warmer too.  So I just threw everything in a pot and heated for a couple of minutes.  We don’t have a microwave here, so sometimes you have to improvise!

I served the koshari by plating the pasta mixture and topping it with the tomato sauce and fried onions.  I also added a little hot sauce, which it is often served with in restaurants too. Delicious!

Koshari!

Koshari!

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