One of my favorite pastimes is trying new restaurants. I love to try new cuisines and would love to travel all over the world one day and just eat my heart out. Until then, I will have to make due with what I have.
As you know, I started working at a new company last week. That weekend, I was invited to a party at one of the co-workers' home. It was an event for all of the co-workers and everyone was encouraged to bring a dish. I brought Pad Thai and Thai iced tea from the family restaurant. The host of the party was Russian and he had provided many Russian and Mediterranean dishes.
Another co-worker is Egyptian and he brought an Egyptian dish that his wife had made. I had never tried Egyptian food and I didn't even know what the staples to Egyptian dishes entailed. This dish, Koshary, as I would come to learn, changed everything. It was uniquely presented in a bowl with many meticulously placed layers and two of the many carbs that I would not be able to live without - pasta and rice (does it get any better than that?)!
Once I served myself a healthy helping, I was instructed to pour a grayish brown spicy liquid and mix. I thought the dish would be delicious enough without anything extra, but I had to listen to a native. So poured and mixed I did. I took the bite and was blown away! My tastebuds were delighted. It had a tomato sauce, none like I've ever tasted. It was not a marinara sauce that you put on pasta and it certainly wasn't a tomato sauce you serve on enchiladas. It was tangy and spicy, yet not overwhelming, you know what I mean? (maybe after this recipe you will). And the combination of pasta and rice was heavenly.
The Monday after, I was craving this dish. I asked my co-worker what it was called, "Koshary", he said and googling I went. I sorted through close to a dozen recipes before I chose a recipe that I felt was authentic and closest to what I had tried. I certainly found the winner. I didn't ask a native, but I thought it tasted pretty darn close to what I had had that weekend.
Koshary slightly modified and adapted from Hans at answers.yahoo.com
Note: I catered this recipe to the one I had at the party. I omitted the vermicelli noodies, fried onions and chickpeas. Though there are two sauces available, I chose the one that I thought would taste most like the one I had.
Use the smallest "Penne" you can find for this recipe, the perfect pasta is called "Ditanlini", which is a short straight tube no longer than 1/4 inch. Boil the pasta, seive it and mix it with 1 table spoon of oil and 1/2 tsp salt.
Rice (1 1/2 cup) with Vermicelli noodles(1/4 cup)
In a pot, stir fry the Vermicelli in 1 spoon of oil until dark brown, add the washed rice, stir for two minutes. Add 2 cups of boiling water, salt and paper. put on very low heat and cover for 20 minutes.
Boiled lentils (1 cup) -can be prepared the day before and heated in the microwave before serving. Use Black or green whole lentils for this recipe. Boil the lentils in 4 cups of water, strain and season with salt and peper.
Tomato Sauce with Garlic - can be prepared the day before and heated before serving
Stir-fry 1 minced onion with two garlic cloves in a pot with one spoon of oil. When yellow, add two cans of whole tomatoes or 1 KG of fresh ripe tomatoes cut to small pieces. Add a cup of water and simmer for 15 minutes. Blend the sauce until smooth and put back on heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Salt + pepper
Fried onions - can be prepared the day before.
This is the most anoying part of making a Koshary, because of the smell that fills the house when frying the onions. You may find in a Chinese Deli ready fried onions that can serve well for this recipe. just mix 1 cup of it with 1 spoon oil, 3 spoons water and 1/2 tsp salt. microwave for 2 minutes and here you go.
If you want to be authentic (recommended) cut two large onions very small, season with 1/2 tsp of salt and mix well to separate the onion. Fry in the widest pan you have in 1/4 cup of hot oil , keep stiring until very dark brown. Almost black. Pick the now fluffy and crunchy fried onions to absorbent paper. Don't get rid of the remaining oil - see my tips
Chickpeas - the easiest part of the recipe -
buy a can of chickpeas, open it and rinse it under running water!!!!
Hot paprika Sauce - can be prepared the day before no heating needed.
heat 3 spoons of oil in a small pan, remove from heat, mix two spoons of hot Paprika , add 3 spoons of tomatoe sauce which you already prepared. serve in a small bowl on the side
Garlic Lemon Sauce - again ..prepare the day before...
Mix 3 minced garlic cloves with 1/8 cup white viniger, 1 big lemon juice, 1 tsp cumin powder and 1 tsp coriander powder.
From Bottom up
2 Rice with Vermicelli noodles
3 Boild lentils
4 Tomato Sauce with GArlic
5 Fried onions
Do not use Olive oil for this recipe, it will change the taste
Use the oil you used for frying the onions to mix with the Pasta.
Serving: Scoop onto a dish and drizzle one of the sauces over the dish. Combine and enjoy.