*Koshari is the traditional Egyptian meal. It’s served in every restaurant, at every dinner table, and sold by any Cairo street vendor. Koshari is a very strange combination of noodles, rice, lentils, fried onions and chili sauce. Don’t be thrown by the ingredient list. For whatever reason this all-in-one meal is addicting. I love traveling in Egypt and seeing all of its wonders but it also stresses me out. Egypt is not an easy place to travel, by any stretch. Koshari is the food pill that makes you feel like you can conquer the mad chaos that is Cairo.
Ingredients for Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (to taste)
28 oz can of diced tomatoes, undrained
Ingredients for Koshari:
3 tablespoons oil
3 cups onion, thinly sliced
1 cup uncooked vermicelli (fideo), broken into pieces
5 cups water
1 1/4 cups dried lentils
2 cups long grain rice, cooked
1 teaspoon salt
1) To prepare sauce, heat 1 tblsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook 10-15 minutes until golden. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes. Stir in salt, pepper, and tomatoes. Cook 10 minutes to let thicken. If you have a hand blender, use it to puree the tomato mixture. If not, transfer mixture to a food processor and puree. Keep the sauce warm.
2) Combine 5 cups of water and lentils in saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes.
3) To prepare koshari while lentils are cooking, heat 3 tblsp of oil in pan over medium heat. I use the same pan as I did for the sauce and just wipe it dry with a paper towel. Add onions and cook 15 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove onions to a plate and set aside. Wipe pan and return to heat. Saute vermicelli for 2 minutes. Set aside.
4) When lentils are finished cooking, remove from heat. Add vermicelli to lentils and water and let stand covered for 10 minutes. Drain in collander.
5) Add rice and salt to lentil mixture. Stir. Add sauce and onions. Serve.
*Recipe by Shelley Neese, vice president of The Jerusalem Connection. Click here for her articles and videos.