Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kushari

I had never heard of Kushari before, but stumbled upon it when I was looking for meat free recipes to make over Lent. Kushari (or Koshary, kosheri, or koshari) is a popular dish in Egypt made from rice, noodles, lentils and sometimes chickpeas.
The recipe I used for kushari was from the blog Whats 4 Eats.

I really enjoyed this dish, although it did make quite a lot and I was glad when the leftovers were over.  The recipe does take up all 4 burners, with cooking the rice, noodles, lentils and onions, so that was a bit of juggling that I was not used to. I was pretty proud of myself that I managed to time the cooking so that everything was ready at the same time.

The recipe says to cook the lentils for 30-45 minutes and the directions on the lentil bag said that they only needed to be cooked for 20 minutes.  I figured overcooked lentils would be better than undercooked ones, so I cooked them for 45 minutes.  Mrblocko and I both thought that the texture was a little more al dente that it should be, so next time I'll cook the lentils for a full hour.

I'd also double the sauce and onions for topping.  I wished there was more of both.  I might try adding garbanzo beans next time too.  If I make this for dinner, not for Friday over Lent, I'll add a few diced chicken breasts to the mix as well.

Kushari slightly modified from Whats 4 Eats
1c uncooked Rice (I used medium grain)
1 c uncooked Macaroni pasta (ditalini would be great too)
1 c uncooked Lentils
1 bay leaf
2  T olive oil
1 Onion, chopped finely (increase this to 2 next time)
2 cloves minced Garlic (increase to 4-5 cloves next time)
1 15 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes (use 2 cans next time)
1/2-1 t Pepper flakes
1 t cinnamon
1 t cumin
Salt and pepper -- to taste
Oil for frying
2 Onion, sliced thinly into half moons

Start with the lentils.  Simmer lentils in 2 c water with the bay leaf (don't forget to remove the bay leaf after the lentils have finished cooking!), covered for 45-60 min until tender.

About a half hour into the lentil cooking time, cook the rice in 2 c water, covered for 20 min until done.  Also boil the water for the pasta and prepare per the package directions. 

Heat about 1/2-inch of oil in a heavy skillet. Add the sliced onions and fry until they turn brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels.(I started this at the same time as the lentils, and once the onions were cooked I started preparing the sauce.)

While the rice, pasta and lentils are cooking, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions and garlic. sauté until the onions are translucent and wilted, 4-5 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce,pepper flakes, cinnamon and cumin, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, add a little water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Place the rice, macaroni and lentils in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper and stir together gently with a fork. Portion the mixture into individual bowls and spoon some tomato sauce over each portion. Top with crispy fried onions and serve hot or at room temperature.

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