by Steve Petusevsky
Director of Culinary Innovation
Native Foods Cafe
Tangy sauce tops off an Egyptian Kosheri
A few days back, I sampled one of the most interesting ethnic recipes I’ve eaten in a long time called kosheri, also kusheri or kushery. It is an Egyptian dish sold mainly by street vendors.
There are many versions, and I am told the dish may have originated in India, where it is called kitchri. It is a filling, inexpensive and nutritious dish combining pasta, usually elbow macaroni, with rice, lentils and chick peas. It’s flavored with a sauce called ta’leya, made of caramelized onions, chile peppers, tomatoes and spices.
I couldn’t stop eating it. I was so impressed with the flavor and character of this dish, I asked the woman who made it for her recipe.
She replied, “I can give you a recipe for kosheri, but not my recipe.”
Egyptian Kosheri I understood fully, and was happy to try this recipe in my kitchen, which is adapted from the one she gave me. I use canned chick peas to save time, but you can cook dried ones if you have time.
There are many grains, legumes and other ingredients that need to be prepared. You can make it easy on yourself by cooking them up to three days before assembling the dish. I’m told that in Egypt, they cook the lentils and pasta in the same pot, but it involves careful timing when the pasta can be added to the lentils. So I recommend cooking them separately, even if it means an extra pot to wash.
You can use canned lentils, but cooking lentils from scratch doesn’t take long, and they are much better tasting.
Native Foods uses this image courtesy of http://noshon.it
1 cup raw brown or green lentils, rinsed well
Salt, to taste
1 cup raw elbow macaroni
1 cup raw basmati rice
1 cup drained canned chickpeas, rinsed well and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 chili pepper, such as jalapeno, serrano or Anaheim seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup tomato puree
Place lentils in a saucepan and cover generously with salted water.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and gently boil 35 to 40 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.
In another pot, cook pasta in plenty of boiling water about 8 minutes until al dente; drain, rinse and drain again.
In another pot combine 1 1/4 cups water and rice. Bring to a boil and stir once. Cover tightly, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 to 10 minutes longer.
In a nonstick pot large enough to hold all the ingredients, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, chilies and turmeric. Saute 10 to 12 minutes until onions are well browned. Add the tomato puree and simmer 5 minutes.
Add the cooked lentils, macaroni, rice and the chickpeas; mix well. Add salt, if needed. Makes 6 servings.