Koshari is Egypt’s famous national food. This classic dish is a much sought after item in many upmarket restaurants including Zooba in New York’s Manhattan.
Koshari straddles two worlds—as street food and a staple for home cooking. It is delicious and filling as a combo of complex carbs and proteins. It packs rice, lentils, chickpeas, and macaroni all with sauces with a topping of fried onions.
The famous cookbook ‘Kitab Abla Nazira” has documented two koshari recipes that use yellow lentils and brown lentils. Koshari has many versions even in Egypt. Some versions also offer egg and chicken livers as toppings.
An example of localized innovation with Koshari is seen at Lux in Berlin where koshari is served with jasmine rice, beluga lentils, and caramels than fried onions. Koshari’s history has a bit of mystery and many Egyptians believe the dish has links with khichdi, the yummy Indian dish. Now take a look at Koshari recipe and how we can cook this at home.
For the Crispy Onion Topping
• 1 large onion, sliced into thin rings
• 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup cooking oil
For Tomato Sauce
• Cooking oil
• 1 small onion, grated
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 tsp ground coriander
• 1/2 –1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
• 1 can 28-oz tomato sauce
• Salt and pepper
• 1–2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
• 1 1/2 cup brown lentils, picked over and well-rinsed
• 1 1/2 cup medium-grain rice, rinsed, soaked, drained
• 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
• 1/2 tsp coriander
• 2 cups elbow pasta
• Cooking oil
• 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed, drained and warmed
To make the onion topping, sprinkle the onion rings with salt, then toss them in the flour. In a skillet, heat up the cooking oil. Now cook the onion rings for 20 minutes until they turn brown. Ensure they remain crispy and do not get burned.
In a saucepan, heat one tbsp of cooking oil and the grated onion. Cook until the onion turns slight gold before the brown shade. Add the garlic, coriander, and red pepper flakes and saute until fragrant. Add tomato sauce and salt. Let it simmer until the sauce thickens. Now mix the distilled white vinegar and keep the heat low. Cover to make it warm until ready to serve.
Making of Koshari
Cook pasta that is spoonable like ditalini or macaroni. Or break up some spaghetti. Let the noodles boil. Warm-up cooked lentils, half-can of beans, and rice. In the second step, sauté chopped onions and garlic in olive oil until they tender. Now add chili flakes, fruity Kashmiri chile powder, cayenne or smoky chipotle. Add some cumin, coriander, and spices to bloom slightly. Tomato purée or diced plum tomatoes must be added.
Allow some low heating and add glugs of vinegar. Join up the pasta, beans, and grains in a bowl and pour tomato sauce. Finish up with a handful of crispy fried shallots or any allium.