We've brought you carbs on carbs. We've brought you carbs IN carbs. But never before have we attempted the triple: carbs on carbs on carbs. Ready yourselves, my friends, because today is that day. Koshari, an Egyptian street food, is a mountain of rice, macaroni, lentils and chickpeas, layered with tomato sauce and crispy onions. It's delicious. It may also require a nap afterwards.
Koshari is comforting without being stodgy thanks to its fresh flavours and spicy sauce. It's basically an Egyptian style chilli. It's believed to be related to khichri, an Indian dish of lentils and rice that British settlers brought to Egypt. (FACT: khichri also inspired kedgeree. Every nation loves a comforting bowl of rice.)
Most koshari recipes have you cooking the rice, pasta and lentils separately, but imagine the joyless pile of washing-up that would leave you with. I suggest you simply throw them into one big saucepan. Similarly, just buy tins of lentils and chickpeas. Street food is meant to be fast, and soaking pulses for hours only to find they're still rock hard is not part of the plan.
Koshari (serves 2)
You will need:
For the sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 75g basmati rice
- 75g macaroni or other small pasta
- 75g cooked puy lentils
- 50g cooked chickpeas
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- Start by making the sauce. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, then fry the garlic for around 30 seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes, chilli flakes and red wine vinegar, and let it simmer away for 15 minutes until it's thickened up. You can either blitz it to make it smooth, or leave it chunky.
- While the sauce is cooking, heat a little oil in another saucepan over a medium heat and fry the onions until golden brown and crispy. Set them aside on some kitchen paper to drain.
- Wipe out the pan and add the rice to it, along with 250ml of water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes until the rice is tender.
- Add the macaroni to the pan and simmer for another 10 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the macaroni is soft. Add a splash more boiling water if it's all been absorbed before the pasta is cooked.
- Add the lentils, chickpeas and spices, stir well, then pop the lid on and leave for five minutes for everything to warm through.
- Serve it by ladling the koshari into a bowl, topping with the sauce, and scattering over the onions.