Our ABC Culinary tour has arrived in Egypt and we’ll stay here hosted by Terry from Crumpets & co. until 12 April 2015.
I’ve been in Sharm el-Sheikh with Gokki (daughter n°3) and some dear friends years ago. But that doesn’t count does it? 😀
“Opinions often diverge in Egypt, but one thing almost every Egyptian concedes is that Kushari – a uniquely Egyptian medley of starches – reigns supreme.
This cheap, filling and healthy national dish
is so popular that some restaurants in Eygpt, particularly Cairo, specialise in this alone. But although kushari was the first Egyptian fast food, little seems known about its genesis. Educated conjecture suggests that it may have been created out of poverty – filling fare for people who couldn’t afford meat – or that, as vegan victuals, it was influenced by the vegetarian diet of fasting Coptic Christians. Whatever the case, meat – such as small pieces of fried liver, chicken or lamb – is now sometimes back in the bowl.
Kushari is a delectable, any-time-of-day, year-round whole that is far more addictive than the sum of its humdrum base parts: pasta, rice and lentils.
The magic finish comes from a spicy tomato-sauce topping and garnish of fried onions, all enhanced by garlic-vinegar or chilli.
Kushari is assembled in just a few seconds – but the experience is downright percussive. In kushari- specific restaurants, to which Egyptians of all
ilk frequently flock, the cooked ingredients are speedily doled out from what comes to be seen
as a drum set of food-filled basins. As it happens, the kushari composer raps and taps his spoon against the bowls and basins in a virtuosic display of rhythm. It’s loud but mesmerising, a Stomp-style performance that begs an encore. Or is it just that the kushari’s so good one bowl is never enough?
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼* TIPS *
Whether purchased in a specialised restaurant or from a street vendor, kushari is often alone on the menu; you need only say what size you want – small, medium or large. There’s also usually a choice of sauce: garlic-vinegar or a chilli sauce as spicy as it looks. Many locals also squeeze in some lemon.”
By Ethan Gelber for Lonely Planet.
The World’s best Street Food – Lonely Planet Guide books.
3 tbs extra virgin Olive oil
1⁄2 cup onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
400g (14oz) tomato puree
3⁄4 tsp ground cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp ground cumin (I used cumin seeds)
1⁄2 tsp salt (I don’t use salt)
1⁄4 tsp ground black pepper
1⁄4 tsp chilli flakes
1 cup rice (long-grain)
1 cup lentils (brown or black)
2 tbs white vinegar
1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
1⁄2 tsp garlic powder
8 tbs olive oil
11⁄2 cups onion, sliced
1 cup pasta (small macaroni or vermicelli broken into small pieces)
Start with the Tomato Sauce
1. Heat the oil and onions on a medium flame until the latter are golden brown.
2. Stir in the garlic and cook for two minutes.
3. Add the tomato puree, cinnamon, cumin, salt, pepper and chilli flakes. Increase the heat a bit and let simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens (approximately 15–20 minutes).
In the meanwhile prepare the Kushari
1. Simultaneously, but in different pots, cook the rice and the lentils. The lentils should simmer, covered, until tender (20–30 minutes); then, use a strainer to remove the lentils (leaving the lentil water in the pot), placing them directly into a mix of the vinegar, cumin and garlic powder.
2. Heat the oil on a medium flame; add the onions and cook, de- glazing as necessary, until they are lightly browned. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towel.
3. Stir the uncooked pasta into the same oil used for cooking the onions; saute pasta until lightly browned, then place in the used lentil water, bring back to a boil and cook until tender.
4. Assemble the kushari in eight bowls: lay down a base of rice, add a blanket of pasta with a few browned onions, and then a cover of lentils. Spoon the tomato sauce on top and trim with a few more onions.