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!

Egyptian Koshari

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.


Tangled Noodle said...

Thank you for this great entry, not only for its sauce-y message but also for introducing this dish! I've never heard of koshari before but going through the ingredients list, everything looks familiar. Egyptian comfort food sounds delicious!

Thanks for joining us in Eating Your Words!

Dee said...

Tangled Noodle, it was fun. I am glad I was able to introduce this favorite to you. I love that we almost always have most of these ingedients in our pantry. Me trying to make the words was comical at times. Once again you made it fun! Eating our words was a joy!!

Chef E said...

I saw that episode of Anthony! I love him and his food tryin' ways!

Intriguing, now I will have to try this too. I also got a jar of spice from the middle east that I have not used yet, and will have to write about one day many post, so little time these days...

Dee said...

Chef E- Yes, I love his food trying, tongue in cheek albeit; sassy travel commentaries. I used to wonder what he would have said or done in the wilder situations we saw on a daily if not weekly basis down in Mexico.
If you make it to Austin you MUST visit the MT Asian supermarket. Can't wait to see what you come up with next.

mangocheeks said...

I am so intrigued.

Thank you for introducing me to Koshari. One I am bookmarking. I love my spices, so have no doubt I will enjoy this meatless Egyptian dish.

You paragraph on piping the words with the sauce made me giggle to myself. Thanks for letting me imagine you being plenty challenged.

Now I am off to check out Eating your Words!

Nirvana's Kitchen said...

As an Egyptian, I am glad to hear you like koshary! It's quite addictive, isn't it? :)

Dee said...

Mangocheeks, it was hilarious with me trying repeatedly to get the words to fit into the space I needed & the sauce kept sputtering & spewing!! Never a dull moment in the kitchen. It was a fun challenge though!

Nirvana-it is indeed a great addiction to have:)) I look forward to trying a few other Egyptian favorites. Now if only some Food Channel celeb would introduce us to a few more....LOL!!

ClaudiaH said...

The dish seems to be Kosher, too! Lucky for that, or who knows what kind of war it might have started!

Cardozo said...

My 12 year old son and I saw the same episode and decided to make the dish as part of his summer homework to study Egypt. He did most of the chopping and cooking and even made a side dish of Hummus. We added a dish of stuffed grape leaves and olives with fresh Pita bread and had a wonderful family feast. My three other children enjoyed the meal which will now be a family staple. This is an easy and enjoyable meal.

Dee said...

Cardozo, so glad your entire family seems to enjoy this dish. We have it frequently in our home. We saw Anthony Bourdain recently in Dubai & saw dishes very similar to this on the show.