Category Archives: Egyptian

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


Molokhia Soup

Molokhia Soup, also known as Melokhia, Jute Leaf Soup, or simply “Egyptian Green Soup” is an interesting taste sensation. I stumbled upon the existence of a green soup from a traveller blog and then found the actual recipe in the comment string from a completely unrelated blog. Curious, I decided to give it a go, not really knowing what it was. Molokhia leaves were easily located in the frozen food section of Superstore, which was a surprise. The package available to me already had the leaves cut (shredded more like), and looked a lot like the frozen spinach block used for the spinach dip in sourdough bread. When I was cooking it I noticed that the leaves have the same slimy texture as okra slime, which combined with the visual of a bubbling green pot made me think of a witches brew, as well as question my sanity. However, don’t forego your efforts just due to some bubbling green slime! The molokhia leaves are subtle in flavour but distinct. The spices and heat from the extra hot peppers really shone through, and I slurped up the bowl in record soup-eating time. Absolutely delicious and worth a repeat! I guarantee you will be rewarded with this soup taste profile, plus you will have bragging rights of being able to slurp down some slimy green soup next time the subject of ‘gross foods’ comes up at the water cooler.

*Note* If you can’t find Molokhia leaves in the frozen section, a Middle East grocery should stock them. If all else fails or you want the soup to be pantry friendly, frozen spinach could be easily substituted with similar delicious results.

The recipe below was taken from a couple of comment threads from various travel boards. However, aside from the molokhia leaves, every single ingredient listed was optional. This is my version of the optional ingredient list. Feel free to make your own version! 

Molokhia Soup

6 cups vegetable broth
1 lb. (400g.) frozen molokhia leaves, thawed
2 hot chili peppers, minced
1 bay leaf
1 small onion, diced
black pepper, to taste
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp. lemon juice
cayenne pepper, to taste

Directions:
1) Chop molokhia leaves into strips: roll a handful in a cigar shape and slice into think strips
2) In large pot bring vegetable broth to a boil.
3) Add molokhia leaves, chili pepper, bay leaf, onion, and black pepper. Stir. Reduce heat and simmer ~20 min.
4) In small bowl mash garlic and coriander into a paste.
5) In small fry pan, sauté garlic paste in olive oil until garlic slightly browed.
6) Add paste and remaining oil to soup. Stir.
7) Add cilantro, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper. Stir and let simmer ~5 min.
8) Serve hot over rice.


Ful Mudammas

This week’s culinary adventure took me to Egypt. I felt the urge to expand my food repertoire of Indian, Moroccan, Ethiopian, and Asian. Knowing nothing about the cuisine of Egypt, I set off on a research mission. I ended up making four dishes: Ful Mudammas, Molokia Soup, Kushari, and Banana-Date Ice Cream with Tahini-Molasses topping and pistachios. To be honest, the ice cream is a stand-by that turned out to be Egyptian-ish, so I did cheat a little. I found it very challenging to find information about Egyptian dishes, but my efforts were rewarded ten times over with each dish! As I have never been to Egypt, nor have I eaten at an Egyptian restaurant before, I will not claim that the recipes are 100% authentic. But what I will guarantee is that they are 100% delicious and different from the standard trinity of Indian, Moroccan, and Asian!

Ful Mudammas, also known as Ful Medames, Ful Muddammis, or Ful Medames (thank you, Wikipedia), is a fava bean mash that is often served at breakfast with some pita bread. I broke from tradition and ate it for dinner with some injera, but it is delicious! My avocado masher came in handy again, and the tomato, onion, garlic, bean mash was delectable and the perfect consistency. It is a very simple dish to prepare and quick to throw together. I think it could also easily be a salad if it’s too hot to use the stove, or you could blitz it in the food processor to make Egyptian hummus. It doesn’t look like the most appetizing dish, but what it lacks in presentation it makes up for in flavour. It now joins the ranks of tabbouleh as my favourite breakfast food!

This recipe is a combination of a fava bean salad recipe from AllRecipes.com, a fava bean breakfast spread recipe from AllRecipes.com where most comments started with “I am Egyptian and this is …”, as well as some liberal interpretation of my own from my Ethiopian W’et bean mash cooking.

Ful Mudammas

1 (15oz.) can fava beans
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 large tomato, diced
1 tsp. ground cumin
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup lemon juice
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
1) Saute garlic and onion in oil until onion translucent, ~5 min.
2) Add fava beans. Smash a bit with back of spoon. Cook until heated, adding water if too dry as necessary.
3) Add tomato, cumin, parsley, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium. Simmer ~5 min, smooching mixture as required
4) Serve warm with pita, topped with a drizzle of tahini or chili sauce


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