Kushari

Kushari is also known as koshary, kosheri, and koshari. However you spell it, it is an inexpensive dish from Egypt that is popular street food. Apparently some consider this to be Egypt’s national dish, so I had to try it! At first glance it looks to be a bizarre combination of ingredients, but when put together in a bowl it is and unbelievably tasty dish that fills you up quickly! The basic elements of kushari are lentils and rice, then a layer of macaroni or ditalini pasta, followed with a chunky tomato sauce, and topped with chickpeas and loads of fried onions. At first I was a huge skeptic – rice and pasta in the same dish? I even contemplated omitting the pasta, but in the end decided to stay true to the spirit of the dish. And am I glad I ever did! The dish is like a mini casserole in a bowl, and the flavour profile is amazing. With red hot chilis in almost every component of the dish, there is some nice heat to the combination. The marinated chickpeas and vinegar in the tomato sauce make the dish nice and tangy. But what really won me over was the fried onion topping. With just oil and onion, the dish is transformed from a 4-star rating to blown out of the park! As an added bonus, all ingredients are most likely already in your pantry!

This recipe isn’t hard, but it will use every burner you have on your stove. If you’re not careful, it is possible to boil dry your lentils and rice like I did, but with some more water added the dish was none the worse for it! Simple enough for a weeknight but fancy enough for a weekend meal or company. Serve with a fresh salad and enjoy the street food of Egypt!

This recipe is a compilation of various blog notes that I could find. Most didn’t have quantities of ingredients, and none had the exact amount of each layer. This is my version of these various hodgepodge recipes – I did my best to maintain the spirit of the dish while amalgamating all of these comments. I was pleased with the result, but by all means build your bowl to your taste!

Kushari

Component #1: Lentils and Rice
1½ cups brown lentils
1½ cups short grain rice
1 tbsp. ground cumin
6-8 cups water
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

Directions:
1) In large pot bring water to a boil. Add cumin and lentils.
2) Lower heat to a simmer and cook lentils until half-cooked, ~15-20 min.
3) Add rice; stir. Cover and cook until rice is tender, ~20 min. If too dry, add water as necessary.
4) Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir.

Component #2: Macaroni
8 oz. macaroni or ditalini pasta
water

Directions:
1) In large pot bring water to a boil. Add pasta.
2) Cook pasta until al-dente, ~8 min.
3) Drain and set aside.

Component #3: Garlic Vinegar Tomato Sauce
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. garlic, minced
3 tbsp. white vinegar
2 (28 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste

Directions:
1) In saucepan sauté garlic in oil until fragrant, ~1-2 min.
2) Add red pepper flakes. Stir.
3) Add vinegar, tomatoes, salt, and black pepper. Bring to a simmer.
4) Simmer ~20 min, while pasta and rice are cooking
5) If too thick, add water as necessary

Component #4: Toppings
1 (14 oz.) can chickpeas, or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. ground cumin

4-5 large onions, cut into thick rings or strips
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
1) In Tupperware container mix chickpeas, red wine vinegar, coriander, cayenne, and cumin.
2) Place in fridge and let marinate until ready to use, shaking occasionally.

3) In large fry pan, sauté onions in oil until crispy and fried.

 Assembly:
To serve, layer components as follows:
1) ½ cup lentils and rice mixture
2) ½ cup macaroni
3) ¼ – ½ cup garlic vinegar tomato sauce
4) 2 tbsp. marinated chickpeas
5) 2 tbsp. fried onions

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