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Passport & Plate - Koshari

Egypt | Wednesday, 4 March 2015 | 2 photos

- 2 cups pasta (macaroni and broken-up spaghetti)

- 1 cup Egyptian rice, washed

- 1 handful vermicelli, crushed

- 1 cup brown lentils, washed

- 2 medium onions

- 2 tomatoes, juiced

- Tomato concentrate

- 4 cloves garlic

- 3 limes (or small lemons)

- Corn or sunflower oil

- Salt

- Pepper

- Cumin


How to prepare this recipe
Boil the pasta in salted water till cooked. Bring the lentils to the boil in water then simmer (20 minutes), taking care not to over-cook. Fry the rice and vermicelli briefly in a tablespoon of corn oil then add one cup of water. Bring to the boil and season with a little salt. When the water recedes so that it is just a film on the surface, put on the lowest possible heat and cook undisturbed for 20 minutes.

* For the sauce *

Put the juiced tomatoes into a saucepan. Heat some corn oil in a frying pan and dice one onion finely and fry till golden. Pour the mixture into the juiced tomatoes. Add one teaspoon of pepper and one teaspoon of salt. When the sauce has reduced nicely, add half a small carton of tomato concentrate and one and a half cups of water and simmer.

* For the tangy sauce - the "takhdi'ah"*

Peel and crush four cloves of garlic. Mix with the juice of the limes (or lemons). Season with salt and one heaped teaspoon of cumin. Add spoonfuls from the red sauce into the mixture. Start tasting after 12 spoonfuls. When you like the taste, stop. Add a drop of oil to give it a shine.

* For the garnish *

Slice one onion into fine crescents and fry it dry in a frying pan for about five minutes (this is to get rid of the water in the onion). · Add three tablespoons of corn oil and fry till dark brown. (You may, of course, heat the oil in another frying-pan and add the dried onion to it but it's not necessary.) Drain the onion of any excess oil and spread on some kitchen paper.

* How to serve *

Serve on a flat plate or in bowls. Put one layer of pasta, followed by a layer of rice, followed by a layer of lentils. Each layer is slightly smaller than the one below so you have a domed effect. Spoon over the tomato sauce, then add some takhdi'ah in the middle. Add the fried onions.


The story behind this recipe
I was in Egypt in 2011 and I met a very friendly guide in the hotel. After my friend and I visited the Museum of Cairo, we went back to the car, where the guide was waiting for us. When we got in to the car, the guide asked us if we were hungry and we said yes! He went out for few minutes and came back with this fantastic meal. He said was a traditional Egyptian food and we should try it! And was amazing! I loved it, it taste so good! I tried to pay for the meal and he didn't let me pay for it! He said that in Egypt, when someone wants to give you a gift you must accept it!

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