I once argued with my husband- who loves to stick with traditional well known, previously experienced food-, unlike me, I enjoy messy unmatched never tested before ingredients (A.K.A: disasters).
‘’the old well-known recipes are made by adventurers who wanted to try something new instead of the traditional, and that’s how new flavors come to life’’ that’s what I hypothesized!
‘’old well known recipes were invented by poor people, they didn’t improvise, they used whatever in hand to feed hungry mouths and fill empty stomachs’’ that’s what he said.
And to be honest, I found it pretty convincing.
This argument left me curious enough to dig and search for historic foods origins, and the internet agreed with my husband.
Yes, the world had never seen such luxury as the modern days; our ancestors survived wars, horrible economic situations and nature disasters. These days supermarket’s shelves are loaded with Nutella jars, hundreds of carbohydrates options, salad dressings, and sauces. People own more than one refrigerator in their homes and they don’t seem to be satisfied.
Every culture has its own share of popular food linked to historic era of crisis, wars..etc; the German’s love affair with potatoes; a plant that grew underground, where people sheltered during world wars I & II. think about pizza that is made of few basic ingredients; flat bread with simple toppings; a perfect economic solution. another example is beans for Egyptians are a staple food, easily grown anytime, and affordable for everyone.
Now let’s talk about our beloved Koshari, I wonder where it came from? Some sources refer to Indian origins; they believe that the meal came to Egypt via British colonization. some says it has Italian roots. But I have my own theory about koshari, maybe it has non Egyptian origins, but the real evolution of the koshari (the one we have on our tables today) is shaped by Egyptians in the dark times , when meat sources were non affordable, so they used whatever they had in their pantries to make a notorious satisfying meal.
I know some people who stuff koshari in bread and this would be their only meal for the day, I see labors and hard workers do this.
In the old days Koshari was served on carts in the streets only, now we have specialized and fancy restaurants competing with koshari verities menus, but for me the best koshari is the one made at homes by moms. P.S: I just realized I’m sitting across a koshari restaurant from where I’m writing this article.
The word ‘’Koshari’’ even became an idiom, when you refer to random non matched things; as the meal itself consists of rice, lentils, macaroni, chickpeas topped with tomato, spicy, and garlic vinegar sauces and crispy fried onions.
Just a thought came to my mind; would Aliens love koshari ? I don’t know, but maybe not. No one could ever understand the philosophy behind that beautiful mess! Only the pharaohs could!
Cooking koshari at home, I felt like I’m partying, although the party ended with piles of dishes! Trust me It feels good making it at home.
For someone who’s cooking for two only, I made sure to make a handful of each ingredient so we don’t end up with leftovers. I even measured everything with grams; I know it may sounds sophisticated. If my grandmother knew that I measured rice, macaroni and lentils with grams she would call a psychiatrist for me, so please don’t tell her what I did.
Enough talking, let’s make koshari,
It starts with onions, I peeled and chopped a large onion into rigs, deep fried them in oil. Then crunched them into pieces with my hands when they cooled down, and that was the fun part.
Don’t get rid of that oil, it’s bursting with flavors, we are going to use it with all the other ingredients, which is not the healthiest thing to do, but that’s how we do it.
After frying the onions, I used the oil to saute 100 grams of lentils (previously washed and drained), then poured one and a half cups of water over it. I left it to cook on a medium-low heat until all the water is absorbed, then I added 100 grams of short grain white rice (Egyptian rice), stirred with the lentils for two minutes then added a cup and a half of water again. When the water is decreased, I reduced the heat, put the led on and cooked for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, I cooked two shapes of macaroni separately, just like my mother-in-law do. I flavored the boiling water of the macaroni with the same oil of the fried onions.
Chickpeas were soaked in water overnight, so they took about 20 minutes to cook.
For the side sauces, honestly I am not a fan of garlic vinegar sauce; my advice is, unless you have a fire station next door, or your digestive system is immune to acidity go for it.
We are not fans of shatta too (the spicy sauce). No need for drama!
Tomato sauce is simple and easy, saute garlic in oil, and then add 250 grams of tomatoes puree, let it cook on a medium heat until the sauce thickens, spice with cumin, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. And that’s it.
Put all this mess together, eat, and give time to salute our hero ancestors, the ones who gave life to some boring rice,macaroni and lentils .
Adapted from: supermama.me/ar