Egyptian Kitchen: Delicious, nutritious Koshary Bowls

Egyptian Kitchen: Delicious, nutritious Koshary Bowls

by Morgan Marie
Blissful Eating

What is Koshary you ask? It’s Egypt’s national dish. It’s Egyptian street food. It’s Egyptian comfort food.

Koshary (also written koshari or kushari) is a dish of pure, unadulterated Egyptian deliciousness – and it just so happens to be naturally plant-based! When I visited Egypt as a sophomore in college, it was all I wanted to eat; which was great because, being that it is a staple food, there was a koshary shop on every corner.

This is how they traditionally serve a quick, yummy bowl of koshary in Egypt; the koshary man grabs a bowl and scoops a little of everything into it, creating a warm, fluffy bowl of spicy awesomeness. First there is a base layer of white rice, then a layer of macaroni pasta, all topped with spicy tomato sauce. The garnish is garbanzo beans, crispy fried onions, and spicy garlic-chili oil.

After Egypt in my college days and after, when I was living as a poor college student, koshary was my rock. It’s cheap, flavorful, hearty, and full of good nutrition (when made the way I make it). When I would travel and stay at a host’s house (for FREE through, I would make this dish for dinner as a thank you offering. 

• Ingredients:

• 1 cup of brown rice
• 2.5 cups of water
• dash of salt

• 1 cup of desired pasta (macaroni is traditional, I prefer gnocchetti)
• 3-4 cups of water
• dash of salt & olive oil

• 1 cup dried brown lentils
• 2 cups water
• 1/4 – 3/4 teaspoon salt {or SPEED ROUND OPTION: 1 15 oz can of cooked lentils}

• 1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes {organic best}, or about 2 heaping cups of whole tomatoes {DO NOT use the liquid} {or SLOW ROUND OPTION: 5-6 fresh medium tomatoes, 1 tablespoon tomatoes paste, 30 minutes cooked down}
• 2 – 3 cloves of garlic {depending on your love for garlic}
• 1 tablespoon of chopped ginger
• 1/2 medium yellow onion (about 1 heaping cup after chopped)
• 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
• pinch of cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon Liquid Braggs Aminos
• salt & chili flakes to taste

• 1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans
• cilantro (optional)
• garlic-chili oil (optional)
• sautéed onions (optional)

• Directions:

If you choose to make the garlic-chili oil as a topping Assemble this first to marinade
1. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a little bowl.
2. Smash one clove of garlic and add to the bowl.
3. Spinkle in a pinch or two of red chili flakes.

If cooking lentils from their dry state, start the lentils (takes about 20-30 minutes)
1. Clean the lentils and pick out any non-lentils you may find.
2. Take 1 cup of dry, brown lentils and 2 cups of water, and add them to a saucepan.
3. Once they reach a rapid simmer (at about a medium-high heat), reduce the heat to a gentle simmer (about medium-low heat, but this is different with every stove).
4. Cook the lentils very softly this way for 20 – 30 minutes, uncovered. Make sure the lentils are covered by water at all times (may add water to make sure of this).
5. Test the lentils between the 20 and 30 minute – mark, and strain them when they are soft, but not mushy.
6. Add a pinch of salt to bring out their flavor.

Immediately after starting the lentils to cook, start the rice (takes 20 – 30 minutes)
1. If using a rice cooker, add 1 cups of brown rice, 2.5 cups of water, and a pinch of salt to the cooker. Set it and forget it.
2. If cooking on the stove, find a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Add 1 cups of brown rice, 2.5 cups of water, and a pinch of salt to the pot.
3. Cover the pot and set the burner to a low setting, so that the water is gently simmering.
4. DO NOT REMOVE THE LID until 30 minutes has passed or until it looks like all the water has been absorbed. Try it to see if it’s cooked through. If not, add a bit more water and simmer a little longer.
5. When finished, flush with a fork.

For the sauce (takes about 25 minutes)
1. Chop up half a yellow onion. Be sure to peel the outer onion layer as well as the papery skin. Should make about one heaping cup.
2. Bring the saucepan to medium heat.
3. Add half a teaspoon of olive oil and heat until the oil runs freely over the pan. Do not burn the oil. Oil is warm enough when a drop of water sizzles when it touches it.
4. Add the onions to the pan and let brown (about 5 minutes). As the onion cooks, do the next two steps.
5. Mince the ginger coarsely and set aside about 1 tablespoon.
6. Smash/flatten 2 garlic cloves
7. After the onions have had a 5-minute head start, add the ginger and garlic. Allow 5 minutes to brown.
8. Add the cumin, cinnamon, & red chili flakes 1 minute before you remove the onions from the stove, to open their flavors.

Meanwhile, while the onions, ginger, and garlic browns, start the pasta (takes about 15 minutes)
1. Add the water, salt, and olive oil to a pot and heat until boiling.
2. Add pasta and stir every now and then to reduce sticking.
3. When the pasta is al dente after about 15 minutes (or however long the package of your chosen pasta says), strain and set aside.

Back to the sauce (only 5 minutes later)
1. Add the canned whole tomatoes (NO liquid) and the onion/ginger/garlic/spice mixture to a blender.
2. Add the Liquid Braggs Aminos and blend until smooth.
3. Add the sauce back to the pot and heat for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
4. Add salt and cayenne pepper or chili flakes to taste.

Arrange the toppings
1. Open up the can of garbanzo beans and strain.
2. Take a handful of washed cilantro and coarse chop.
3. The spicy oil should be ready to use now.

Now build your koshary bowl! This is the traditional order of layers, starting from the bottom
1. Rice
2. Pasta
3. Lentils
4. Tomato sauce
5. Toppings

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