by Sophie Churchill
Koshari, sometimes called "kushari" depending on the translation, represents how one dish can be altered throughout time and place according to a nation's taste. What is now the national dish of Egypt does not actually originate there. According to The Daring Gourmet, the name comes from an Indian dish of rice and lentils known as "khichri" in Hindi. As rice is not native to Egypt, it is believed that this easy and affordable meal was brought by the British in the 1800s. It became popular among locals who already cooked a similar dish made without macaroni noodles called mujaddara, as stated in NPR's article. The macaroni was an addition made by Italians living in Egypt at the time while the fried onions were a local alteration, further making this dish a culmination of cultural taste. Koshari is now famously served by extremely talented street vendors referred to as "Koshari Men" who are praised for their almost dance-like movement when dishing up a portion. The sound of their carts can be heard throughout a town and brings in hungry locals and tourists alike. It has also been served in restaurants such as Abou Tarkek since the 1950s or is made at home. The vegan mix of lentils, macaroni, and rice topped with a spicy tomato sauce made with Baharat spice blend is popular during religious fasting days as well. Each ingredient is simple on its own but together provides a tasty and filling meal with a multicultural history.
Preparation Time: 1 hour
- 2 cups medium grain white rice
- 1 cup green lentils
- 1 cup small pasta
- 1 can chickpeas
- 2 white or brown onions sliced into rings
- ¼ cup oil
- Pinch of salt, cumin, and pepper
- 3 cups water
- 2 white onions, finely diced
- 1 green capsicum, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, diced
- 4 large tomatoes, diced
- 2 ½ tbsp tomato paste
- ½ cup vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 tbsp oil
- Pinch of salt, pepper, paprika and cumin
- Make sauce by mixing ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil on low heat for 15 minutes. Continue on to the next steps while the sauce is cooking.
- Rinse and boil the lentils in 3 cups of water, and ½ tsp of cumin for five minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Cut the onion into rings, and sprinkle with flour. Deep fry the onions until dark brown. Place them on paper towels and set aside.
- Boil the pasta and drain. Set aside.
- In a large pot, add the oil, lentils, rinsed rice, and a pinch of salt, pepper, and cumin. Add 3 cups of boiled water to the pot. Allow it to boil for two minutes. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes on low heat.
- Wash and drain the chickpeas then put in a frying pan for one minute on high heat. Add ½ tbsp of butter, a pinch of salt, pepper, and paprika. Stir for one minute, and set aside.
- Serve the rice and lentils onto a large plate.
- Rinse the pasta with hot water, and drain. Pour the pasta and chickpeas on top of the lentils and rice on the plate.
- Garnish with the fried onions, and paprika powder.
- Serve hot with a drizzle of sauce on top, and the rest of the sauce on the side.
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