The Universal Language of Food

 There’s a Jewish saying that all holidays end up with some kind of feast.  Whether you’re explaining Chanukah or Passover to your friends, it can all be summed up by: "They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat!"  In the spirit of the moment, we had what is supposedly a traditional Egyptian meal this evening.  The recipe came courtesy of the Arab-American news program I listen to each weekend on our local community radio station.  They said this is traditional, although I am suspicious of the noodles.  I KNOW I have made a dish with this name before – recipe from Nikki and David Goldbeck’s something-or-other Vegetarian Cookbook, which I used to use all the time, and it didn’t have the noodles.  I do remember frying the onions for it.  The sauce was a surprise.  Once made, it looked and tasted exactly like the spicy tomato sauce I had in the kebab shops in Italy.  This is great, because now I could make it to top some felafel, or anything else!

Egyptian Kosheri

1 1/2 c brown lentils, soaked
1 1/2 c white rice, soaked (I used basmati)
1 c elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat)
salt and pepper

a few onions, sliced
vegetable oil

Sauce
2 c crushed tomatoes (I just used the whole can)
1 c tomato paste
1/4 c  onions, minced 
10 garlic cloves, minced
Red pepper flakes
2 tsp. vinegar
1 T olive oil

  1. Bring the lentils and rice to a boil, add the macaroni, and simmer for awhile until the lentils are soft.  (The only lentils I had were tiny ones, and I think they would have softened and disintegrated much sooner had they been large brown ones.)
  2. Meanwhile, fry the onions until they are quite browned.  (This took a surprisingly long time.)
  3. Saute the garlic and onion mince in the oil for a bit to soften them.  Don’t let them brown.  Add the pepper and then the tomato and vinegar.  Heat thoroughly, or whatever.  It doesn’t have to cook long.
  4. To serve, arrange a layer of the lentil-rice-noodle mixture, then the onions, and top with sauce.  
  5. Serves a million people, probably.  It made a ton.  Adjust amounts for a small family.  The photo shows only some of the leftovers arranged photogenically in a casserole dish.  There was at least that much more that went into the refrigerator. 
  6. Viva Egypt!

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4 Responses to The Universal Language of Food

  1. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know anything about Egyptian food so I’ll take your word for this dish’s authenticity. It sounds tasty and satisfying. Is there really a cup of tomato paste?

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