Egyptian Rice and Lentil Pilaf (Koshari)
I have come to know and love koshari thanks to a blessed albeit shortly lived marriage of a cousin of mine to an Egyptian lady. I have vague memories of it in a version which, unlike this one, contained plenty of macaroni. I found this recipe in the Ottolenghi cookbook and thought it would fit the bill; and it did, in a big way. It was very tasty.
This wonderfully filling dish is a street food sold in large pots on stands or ambulant carts everywhere in Egypt. It is served in a bowl with a generous serving of spicy tomato sauce. It makes fantastic lunches that will keep hunger away for hours and hours. If you’ve ever had mujaddara, you’ll find this dish very similar.
KOSHARI / KOSHERI RECIPE
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 45 min
Koshari reheats well, tasting fresh and bright for many days so feel free to make a large batch of this leftover-friendly food.
I didn't make any changes to the recipe except that I only made half the amount of tomato sauce suggested below, which still yielded over two cups.
For the koshari
1 ½ cups green lentils, washed
1 cup long grain rice, washed and drained (I used instant brown)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces vermicelli noodles, broken into 2-inch pieces
1 ¾ cups chicken stock or water
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 white onions, halved and thinly sliced
For the tomato sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 hot chilies, seeded and finely diced
8 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups water
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Chopped cilantro leaves
To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the rest of the ingredient for the sauce except the cilantro. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until the sauce is thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro leaves.
Place the lentils in a large saucepan, cover with lots of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes, until the lentils are cooked but still firm. Drain and set aside.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the vermicelli and fry them, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Add the rice and stir to coat it with butter. Add the water or stock, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to very low, cover and simmer for 12 minutes. Remove the lid and turn off the heat. Set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onions and sauté over medium heat for 20 minutes, until dark brown. Transfer onto a paper towel to drain.
Add the lentils to the rice. Add most of the onions, reserving some for garnish. Toss to combine. Plate the kosheri in a bowl and top it with the remaining onions. Serve warm with the spicy tomato sauce.