Monday, January 23, 2012

Egyptian Kosheri - Cathy


Our 2 Vagabonds, Erin and Lisa are off again to new horizons--this time to parts of Southeast Asia that they have not explored before.  So in honor of their newest trip, I'm going to post one of our very favorite food discoveries from the countries they've visited.

I get to be the very lucky recipient of cookbooks that Erin brings back to me from their travels.  I have a great time searching through them, my own ridiculously large collection of cookbooks at home, and also online when needed to find interesting, authentic recipes to serve at the 2 Vagabonds open houses. We try to represent a tasting of all the many countries and cuisines they encounter in their travels.

Kosheri is a very common food in Egypt: available as street food, and also in restaurants specializing in it. We had it for the first time when we served it at one of Erin and Lisa's 2 Vagabonds open houses after they visited Egypt--and actually at every open house since then because it is always a hit--and many, many times at home, particularly for Meatless Mondays.  It is so delicious as to be addicting.  It's a hearty, satisfying meatless meal that is full of wonderful, assertive flavors (my favorite kind).

This particular version is from a fabulous cookbook, "Ottolenghi"--also a gorgeous restaurant in London by the same name (they have two other incredible cookbooks, "Plenty", and a new one, "Jerusalem" that are beautiful, simple and full of delicious, healthy food.  They are very much worth owning, and are available in local bookstores or  all available here).  If you would like a different, simpler version that is still delicious, check out the Tahrir Square Koshary recipe that was in this article in Saveur magazine last year. I have to say that I prefer the Ottolenghi version--a little more refined, and with some added spices, but both are delicious and give you quite a kick. I have had to translate amounts (hopefully accurately) from my British version of the cookbook; I know that American versions of the book are available here.

In the near (hopefully) future, look for this and many, many other recipes from the 2 Vagabonds Open Houses to be posted on their website.



what you will need:

For the spicy tomato sauce:
 4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 hot red chiles, seeded and finely diced
8 ripe tomatoes, chopped
(They say canned are fine--I use 1-28 oz. can and 1-14.5 oz. can of whole or chopped tomatoes)
1 1/2 cups water
4 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. salt (I use only 1-2 tsp.)
2 tsp. ground cumin
20g cilantro leaves, chopped
  (from 1/4 to 1 cup, depending on how tightly packed--use the amount you like, and I use tender stems, too)

For the rice, lentil, pasta base:
1 1/2 cups green lentils (just the cheap, common ones)
1 cup basmati rice
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3/4 cup or so vermicelli noodles, broken into 1 1/2 " lengths
1 3/4 cup chicken stock or water
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 white onions, halved and thinly sliced