People wax poetic about Moroccan and Tunisian food, but not so much Egypt. Why? I don’t know. It turns out that the food is very North African, of course, but perhaps a little more simple.
Cheap and filling is a common theme, reaching perfect form in Koshari, the National Dish of Egypt. At first glance, this is one of those recipes that doesn’t seem like much, but trust me, you want to make it. One negative: it’s a multi-pot meal, so enlist someone to wash the dishes for you. On the bright side, it’s easy, nothing but straight-forward ingredients, makes enough to feed a small army, and it’s vegan. Nice. Make sure you don’t forget the caramelized onions – they are essential.
I start browning the onions early in the process. I don’t know if there’s something wrong with me, but I can never cook up onions in the 5 minutes most recipes call for. If there is some trick I’m missing, please let me know.
In other areas, I definitely took some short-cuts like 10-minute rice and canned chickpeas; there are plenty of recipes out there that are more traditional, including the one I used for inspiration. Also, the size of pasta seems to be a personal preference; I just like having everything about the same size, but feel free to use what you’ve got in the pantry.
(adapted from EgyptianRecipes.net)
- 2 large chopped onions
- 4 cloves of minced garlic
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 1 bag of 10 minute brown rice
- ¼ tsp red pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 can of tomato sauce
- ¾ cup brown lentils
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup small pasta
- ½ cup white vinegar
- 1 15oz can chickpeas
- In a large saucepan, put the lentils in water and bring it to a boil.
- Simmer over medium heat for 25 minutes (or until soft) then drain and set aside to cool.
- In another skillet, heat oil and add onions, cooking on med-low heat until brown.
- While the onions are cooking, refill the pot used for the lentils and cook rice.
- Fill a separate saucepan with water, add a little bit of salt and bring to a boil.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until it gets tender, then drain.
- In a skillet or saucepan, heat some oil then add the garlic and cook until softened and golden.
- Add the vinegar to garlic and bring it to boil.
- After the vinegar boils with garlic, add the tomato sauce and some salt and pepper to taste, then add the cumin. Bring the mix to boil on high heat, then lower heat after it boils. Let simmer.
- Take a little bit of the oil used with the onions and stir it into the pasta.
You can mix everything together, or go the more traditional route…
- Put a layer of rice and lentils.
- A layer of macaroni.
- A layer of the special sauce.
- A layer of the boiled chickpeas.
- A layer of fried onions.
Kept it simple with ice water with lots of lemon to drink, and a cucumber feta salad on the side.
Cucumber Feta Salad
(adapted from Food.com)
- 2 large cucumbers, peeled
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 6 ounces feta
- 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice or 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- fresh ground black pepper
- Score the cucumbers with the tines of a fork, and cut them in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds – a grapefruit spoon or melon baller works well. Sprinkle the cucumbers with salt, and let them stand for about 1/2 hour.
- Rinse, pat dry, and slice the cucumbers into 1/2 inch chunks.
- In a medium serving bowl, crush the feta with a fork and mix it with the scallions, lemon juice, oil, and pepper.
- Combine the cucumber chunks with the cheese mixture.
- Sprinkle the salad with the mint.
- It can sit in the refrigerator before serving, but try not to hold it more than an hour or it will get watery.
For dessert, I made Zabadee el Mishmish, a traditional Egyptian dessert, finishing up with mint tea. The dessert was a big hit with my husband, so that means that the entire meal will be going into the normal dinner rotation. Thanks Egypt!
Zabadee el Mishmish
(adapted from Touregypt.com)
- 1/2 cup dried apricots
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese (non or low fat works fine)
- 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
- 1/2 packet unflavored gelatin
- Put apricots in bowl and cover with boiling water.
- Set aside for 1 hour to soften.
- Place drained apricots in blender, add honey and blend until smooth.
- In a small saucepan, dissolve gelatin in 2 tbls of water.
- Place on low heat and stir until all gelatin is dissolved.
- Combine cottage cheese and yogurt in a food processor and whip until smooth.
- Pour yogurt mixture into a bowl and slowly stir in the gelatin, the fold in the apricot puree.
- Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.