I count Fayda among my friends in Dublin. Her husband happens to be Egypt’s ambassador to Ireland. Fayda is warm, very open and the sort that will always try to make time for you. In a potluck lunch she had brought along this Egyptian dish that was delicious. It was called ‘Kosheri’–a kind of layered rice,pasta(interesting!) and lentil dish. Of course, since these days I think largely about my blog for a good part of my waking and sleeping hours- I asked her immediately if she would give me a class just for my blog. In her usual generous fashion she agreed and said she would do a two for one deal and show me how to make Kosheri AND real, old fashioned Baklava as well !
I am so excited about both these recipes. They have a chef–a real one. He is Egyptian,grew up cooking Egyptian food in his mother’s kitchen but is also trained in Italian cooking. So Mohammad Reda or ‘Mimo’ was the one who demonstrated . Here he is efficient and ready to go-
Fayda was born and brought up in Cairo. She got her own fabulous cooking skills from her mother– and grew up eating good, classic,home cooked food. In a house full of relatives and friends they would eat Kosheri at least 3 or 4 times a month. This dish is also street food in Egypt and is available everywhere. The first time she ate Kosheri outside her home was when she married her husband Sharief –she confesses she liked it a lot–it was spicier–and Fayda loves spicy food !
Here is the recipe:
KOSHERI (for 4 to 6 people)
3 medium onions (sliced), 2 cups brown lentils (whole masoor daal) , 500 gm rice (jasmin rice orany non-sticky rice is alright), 1 cup elbow pasta (or any other small variety), 1 cup vermicelli, 1/2 cup cooked or tinned chick peas, about 3 tbsp ground cumin seeds, 1 tsp chilli flakes, salt, oil
Ingredients for sauce:
2 pods of garlic (peeled and crushed), 2 tbsp vinegar(any white or malt), 2 cups fresh tomato (put into a blender and made into a pulp)or tomato puree out of a tin is also alright,1 tbsp cumin powder,a big pinch of chilli flakes.
Heat about 6 tbsp oil in a pan. Deep fry the sliced onions till brown and crisp. Remove and put on kitchen paper.Separate the strands with a fork.
Here are the frying onions-
Here is what they look like fried (fancy chefs call it ‘caramelised’-sounds better ,I suppose? )-
For the sauce:
Take 1 tbps oil from the oil in which onions were fried (very important–this is what lends the fried onion flavour to the different layers of the dish).Heat in a pan. Add the crushed garlic. Fry till light brown.
Add the vinegar. Then the tomato pulp. Stir. Add cumin powder , chilli powder and salt. Let it simmer for 20 mins.
Rice: heat 2 tbsp oil from the fried onions (always this oil!). Add the rice. Fry for a few mins. Add salt to taste. Add double the amount of water (So if it is 3 cups of rice-add 6 cups of water). Let it come to a boil. Cover and cook till all the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked.( It should not be mushy or watery but should be like an Indian pulao ).
Pasta: Put in boiling water and cook till done (like any pasta). Drain. Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cumin powder, pinch of chilli flakes.
Vermicelli: Heat I tbsp oil from onions. Add vermicelli and roast till brown. Add about 1/2 cup of water(or a little more) and cook till water is absorbed and the vermicelli cooked through.Add salt. Stir.I loved the way Mimo tossed the vermicelli in the pan – good chef style-looked all professional !
Lentils: Put lentils in a saucepan. Add enough water to cover lentils. Add 1/4 onion(chopped),1 tbsp salt,1 level tbsp cumin powder. Boil and cook through, adding water if necessary. If you have added too much water and the lentils have softened-no problem–just remove the excess (and drink it!)
That’s it ! Now all you have to do is assemble it and EAT it !
Put a layer of the rice on a plate. Add a layer of pasta. Then lots of the lentils, the vermicelli. Finally top it with the tomato sauce and finally, the fried onions. Scatter chick peas on the sides.
Well, me,Indian, would add an extra pinch -a big pinch-of chilli flakes ..
Happy eating–simple, wholesome and delicious !
Thank you so much, Fayda, for sharing and Mimo for demonstrating !