If you walk the streets of Egypt, you will find many street-sellers selling kushari, or koshary (too many spellings, but I believe ‘kushari’ is the most frequently used in the English language so I’ll stick with that). Kushari is a genuine Egyptian meal that actually used to be considered a poor man’s meal because of how inexpensive it is (since it doesn’t contain any meat). However, it’s no longer considered a low-class dish because now people of all standards in Egypt enjoy this hearty meal. I thought this meal especially would be fitting to share, not only because it’s delicious, but also since the revolution had been shared by the poor as well as the rich.
Kushari consists of four things:
- Lentils + Rice
- Garlic Vinegar Tomato Sauce
- Fried Onion Topping
It must be in this order for it to be kushari! :)
This was surprisingly my first time making it (though my trillionth time eating it), and I was surprised at how easy it was! This meal will have you using all 4 spots of your stove. It requires 2 pots (one for the macaroni layer and one for the lentil layer), 1 saucepan (for the sauce), and 1 frying pan (for the onion topping). And if you use your time wisely (like cutting and frying the onions for the topping while you’re waiting for the lentils to cook), you can probably finish this entire meal within an hour.
You should also know that a small hill of onions is involved for the onion topping…
Yup. Many tears were shed during the making of this kushari. But if you have a fan in the kitchen and turn it on medium-high speed, you won’t tear up as much. I thought of that mid-cutting and it worked like a charm.
If any of you want a taste of Egypt, you should make this meal without hesitation. And don’t forget the order! :)
Kushari Recipe (adapted from Miss Anthropist’s mom :D )
Serves about 8 people, so you can either halve this recipe for your family or eat it for dinner twice in one week…which I’d totally recommend.
- Bag of lentils (maybe a cup and a half?)
- 1 and 1/2 cup rice
- 5 to 6 cups of water
- 1/2 to 1 cup Filini (it’s called shi’riyya in Arabic. It’s a short thread-like pasta…if you don’t have, it’s alright)
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: Red pepper flakes (if you want some spice, but not too much)
- Put 6 cups of water in a large pot and add about 1 tablespoon of cumin. Boil the water and then add lentils. Close lid and leave it boiling for about 15-20 minutes (Note: While you’re waiting, you should peel and cut onions for the fried onion topping. Directions below)
- After the lentils are half-cooked, add rice and stir. Reduce heat to medium-low and leave until rice is cooked, about 20 minutes, and then turn off heat. (Note: If you have already finished peeling and cutting onions, you should begin frying to save time, since it takes about 10-15 minutes per frying and you will have to do it in intervals)
- In another small pan, fry the filini until golden brown. Add it to cooked rice and lentils. Add salt and pepper to the mixture.
- Macaroni (preferably a small kind, like elbow macaroni or ditalini)
Prepare macaroni as instructed on your box until al dente.
Garlic Vinegar Sauce
- 2 and 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 and 1/2 or 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 2 cans of tomato sauce (or paste)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Red pepper flakes (to spice taste…perhaps a teaspoon?)
In a skillet on medium-high, heat garlic with some vegetable oil for a minute or 2. Add tomato sauce and then add vinegar. Add as much water as desired (depending on how thick you want the consistency to be), and stir. Stir on heat for a few minutes, until it boils.
Fried Onion Topping
- 4 or 5 large onions, peeled and cut into rings or strips (not diced). You can cut more if you’d like.
- Flour (just lightly coat the onions with it)
- Vegetable oil (for frying)
Add salt and flour to cut onions. In a frying pan add vegetable oil and on medium-high, fry (you can add some minced garlic if you wish) as many onion rings and strips in pan as possible (you will probably fry 4 or 5 times total) for 10-15 minutes until deep golden brown. If you want them a little crispier, leave on heat for a minute or two but try not to burn it.