Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Koshari, Kosheri or is that Koshary?
What is in a word? Koshari is Egypt's answer to American Chili...kind of, sort of! It is made of lentils, rice, beans, some type of pasta & it has a spicy tomato sauce. It is a street food along the streets of Cairo, can be found throughout the Middle East & as far away as Hong Kong. The national dish of Egypt aka: 1st rate Egyptian comfort food intrigued me long before I tried it. I watched an episode of No Reservations where Anthony Bourdain visited Cairo & ate at a Koshari restaurant. I was decidedly intrigued then began seeking out a recipe & the ingredients to make this dish. My recipe incorporates a bit more heat but there are as many recipes of this online as our American Chili. Comfort foods tend to take up a life of their own. Making Koshari for the very first time while we were still living full time south of the border was not all that difficult. I would venture to say that many cooks have most of the ingredients on hand in the pantry save the Hot Siracha Sauce. I made a trip to our local Asian market to buy the Hot Siracha sauce. (Of course I think I just needed an excuse to visit the Asian Supermarket.) They seem to have one of the largest selections of products under one roof & I am always up for the slightly exotic shopping trip. Our large MT Asian Supermarket has groceries offered from around the globe with a nice selection of Middle Eastern products. Believe it or not there is actually quite a large influence from the Middle East on the foods in Mexico. We knew people in Mexico with Middle Eastern surnames & traditions. I believe I had mentioned this previously in another blogpost. The Middle Eastern dishes are quite popular with the younger foodies as many of the side dishes are vegetarian. They are both inexpensive to prepare as well as high in protein & a good way to change up the average meatless meal. I recently made this meal as a modest addition to Tangled Noodle & Savor the Thyme's Eating Your Words contest. I do not know that my meal is particularly challenging however if anyone had seen me trying to pipe the words of my Spicy Tomato Sauce for the Koshari I seemed plenty challenged. Why pipe it onto the plate one might ask? We tend to dab everything into the sauce & if a little is good on top of the Koshari, more is better!
The national dish of Egypt which may have found a permanent place on the Texas to Mexico table.
2 cups cooked Rice
2 cups cooked Vermicelli (Fideo) pasta*
2 tablespoons Cider Vinegar
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin , divided
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 cup cooked Lentils
1 1/2 can tomato sauce (16 oz)
1/2 cup Water
4 tablespoons hot Siracha Sauce from Asian grocery
1 1/2 tablespoons Sugar
3/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
1 15.5 oz can Chick Peas (Garbanzo beans), drained
2 med. Onions, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)**
1 Green Chili, roasted, seeded & diced
1. *In large saucepan saute Fideo or Vermicelli pasta in 1 Tbsp Oil till lightly golden, then slowly add water needed to cook pasta. Drain any remaining water from pasta.
Combine rice and pasta; spoon in bottom of large shallow bowl or platter.
2. Whisk together vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and garlic powder in a medium bowl. Add cooked lentils and stir to combine. Spoon over rice and pasta.
3. Combine tomato sauce, water, sugar, cinnamon, salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon cumin, hot Siracha sauce and red pepper in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally. At this point set aside & reserve 1/2 cup of the Spicy Tomato Sauce. Stir in chickpeas. Spoon tomato mixture over lentil layer. Partially stir tomato mixture into other layers, but do not completely combine all layers. If desired, prepare crisp-brown onions as directed below and add as a topping. To this layer I added Green Chili Peppers & served with the reserved Spicy Tomato Sauce on the side. I realize this takes Koshari into a Southwest direction but it is so very good. Omit the green chilies if you don't want the added heat.
**Cook onions in large skillet with 1 tablespoon oil over high heat, stirring frequently, until brown and slightly crispy, about 10 - 15 minutes.