Egyptian Lentils, Rice & Pasta (Koshari)

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This kitchen-sink of a vegetarian dish was most likely invented in Egypt in the mid-1800s when Cairo was a major multicultural trade port, which could explain the similarities to Italian spaghetti as well as the Indian rice-and-lentil comfort food khichdi. Three toppings–a spicy tomato sauce (shatta), crispy onions and a garlicky vinegar (dakka)–are added to the koshari before serving, but in Cairo most people like them in separate bowls so they can season their bites one at a time.

Ingredients

Koshari
Shatta
Fried Onions
Dakka

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • To prepare koshari: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 2 teaspoons cumin, 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 2 2/3 cups water and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the rice is tender, about 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, prepare shatta: Combine tomatoes, chopped onion, sliced garlic, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 6 tablespoons cumin, 3/4 teaspoon salt, pepper and 1 1/3 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to maintain a lively simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in red-wine vinegar and cayenne.

  • Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Break spaghetti into 1- to 2-inch pieces and cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.

  • To prepare fried onions: Heat oil in a large skillet to 350 degrees F. Toss sliced onion with cornstarch in a medium bowl. Add half of the onion to the oil and cook until golden, about 6 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining onion. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

  • To prepare dakka: Combine water, white vinegar, minced garlic, cumin and salt in a blender; puree for 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl.

  • Transfer the shatta (tomato mixture) to the blender and puree until smooth.

  • Gently stir the spaghetti and lentils into the rice. Serve the koshari topped with chickpeas, the shatta, fried onions and dakka.

 

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