Koshari

Koshari
Koshari

Koshari is the national dish of Egypt. I came to know about this recipe from my dear friend Srishti Sharma, as we were discussing different global cuisines that could be made at home for a family luncheon. This recipe struck just right as it is a yummy, wholesome meal that incoporates basic ingredients such as rice and lentils with a twist, that is, macaroni and tomatoes! So extremely high on nutrition scale.
Koshari, according to a majority of sources, fundamentally originated in India and was influenced by Italian cooking as well. When the British arrived in Egypt in late 1800s, they brought along with them the Indian recipe-Khichdi, that was inexpensive and to easy-to-make. However, the geographical influences of Italian cuisine, led to the creation of a new Egyptian recipe namely, Koshari, that was a hit with the local masses and went on to become the national dish of Egypt!
Here, I have tried to recreate the authentic Egyptian version of Koshari, that includes a particular Egyptian spice blend called Baharat. This spice mixture essentially converts an ordinary recipe to a heavenly experience!
As you can see in the picture, this recipe comprises of 6 layers of different elements; rice and brown lentils (Indian), macaroni and tomato sauce (Italian), chickpeas and baharat (Egyptian), that are cooked as separate entities and finally compiled together on a platter. This fact is the crux of the recipe that provides the unique texture and individual flavours!
So wait no more, enjoy this hearty meal perfect for a Sunday lunch, from the land of the Pharaohs! Bil-hana wiš-šifa! 🙂

Ingredients:
Serves 4
8 tbsp olive oil (to be used in 4 parts)
1 cup rice, soaked in water for 30 minutes
1 vegetable stock cube
1/2 cup brown lentils, soaked in water for 30 minutes
1 cup chickpeas, soaked in water overnight
200g macaroni
2 tbsp garlic paste
2 small onions, finely diced
2 large onions, finely sliced
400g tomatoes, pureed
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp green cardamom pods
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
2 dry red chillies, crushed (for the extra spice)
1 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1/2 cup rice flour
Oil for deep frying

Method:
Step 1: For the rice, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a non-stick pan. Drain the excess water from the soaked rice and add it to pan. Roast the rice till it acquires a golden-brown tinge. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes, till all the water evaporates. Do not allow it to burn.
Step 2: Mix the vegetable stock cube in 3 cups of hot water. Allow it to dissolve completely. Add this vegetable stock to the pan of rice. Let it come to a boil. Cover and cook for 20 minutes on low heat, until the rice is cooked.
Step 3: For the macaroni, boil them in water with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp salt. Drain and set aside.
Step 4: For the chickpeas, drain the excess water. Pressure cook the chickpeas in 2 cups water with 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and 1 tsp salt till 5-6 whistles. Drain the cooked chickpeas and set aside. Use the leftover stock for cooking the lentils.
Step 5: For the lentils, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pressure cooker. Add 1 tbsp garlic paste and 1 tsp cumin seeds. As they change colour, drain the excess water from the soaked brown lentils and add them to the pressure cooker. Stir for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and 1 tsp salt. Mix well.
Step 6: Add the chickpea stock from Step 4. Cover the lid and let it cook for 3-4 whistles. Allow it cool completely. Open the lid and mash the lentils so that the flavours are incorporated well.
Step 7: For the tomato sauce, first make the spice blend. Dry roast the black peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, green cardamom pods and cinnamon in a skillet for about 5 minutes. Next grind them all together with red chilli powder and nutmeg powder. Keep aside. This spice blend is called baharat.
Step 8: Next, heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a wok. Add 1 tbsp garlic paste. To that, add the finely diced onions and sauté till they change colour to golden-brown and become translucent. Then add the tomato purée, 1 tsp salt, crushed dry red chillies, vinegar, and sugar. Mix well. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Step 9: Next, add 2 tsp of baharat from Step 7. Mix well. Cook till the sauce gets a slightly thick consistency. Check and adjust seasoning. Remove from heat and set aside.
Step 10: Lastly, take the sliced onions and coat them rice flour. Heat oil in a wok and deep fry the onions till they turn brown and crispy. Drain the exess oil on paper napkins.
Step 11: Now for plating up, spread the cooked rice on the platter. Add the cooked brown lentils. Next add a layer of the cooked macaroni and cooked tomato sauce. Sprinkle the cooked chickpeas and crispy, fried onions. Finally, garnish the Koshari with the remaining baharat and serve hot!

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