Food talk

Koshari, the comfort food from Egypt

Koshari, the comfort food from Egypt

Koshari

Pushpesh Pant

EVER since the pandemic hit, our thoughts have been focused most of the time on immunity (or the lack of it). Foods supposedly having immunity-boosting properties are suddenly in great demand. Everyone is chasing the mirage of a magic bullet which can ensure protection from disease and (perish the thought!) death.

Truth be told, building immunity is a long-term project. It is not like amrit that if consumed even once grants immortality. One has to follow for months, if not years, a long dietary regimen to ensure that the body gets balanced nutrition and is fortified against infections. But, such are the frailties of human mind that one easily falls prey to myths about superfoods that promise an immediate boost in immunity.

We think it is much more sensible to look for recipes that act as delicious restoratives for those recovering from a bout of debilitating sickness, or have impaired natural immunity. Following this logic, we offer our readers Koshari — an Egyptian dish — a one-dish meal that is not difficult to prepare, is good to look at, is refreshingly different in taste and texture and is a mélange of ingredients: time-tested comfort food. It resembles many old friends — khichdi, veg pulav, Kabuli chana, dal-roti and pasta with home-made tomato sauce!

Koshari

Ingredients

Rice (soaked in water for 15 minutes, drained) 1 ½ cup

Arhar dal ¾ cup

Masoor dal ¾ cup

Chickpeas (soaked overnight and boiled) 1 cup

Pita bread (toasted and cut into large pieces,

may be substituted with khasta or missi roti) 2

Pasta (optional, pre-boiled as per instructions) 2 cups

Onion (peeled and sliced into thin rings) 1 large

Plain flour 1/3 cup

Sesame oil ½ cup

Onion (peeled and grated) 1 small

Garlic cloves (minced) 4

Coriander seeds (freshly ground) 1 tsp

Red chilli flakes 1 tsp/more

Tomato paste 2 tbsp

Malt vinegar 1-2 tbsp

Coriander powder ½ tsp

Salt and pepper to taste

How to prepare

  • Sprinkle salt on onion and dust with flour in a large pan. Heat oil in a pan over medium flame and cook the onion rings, stirring, until these caramelise and become crisp. Keep aside.
  • Heat 1 tbsp cooking oil in a pan. Put in the grated onion and stir-fry till these are golden in colour. Add coriander, garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir in the tomato paste and add a pinch of salt. Bring the mixture to simmer and cook until the paste thickens. Turn down the flame. Add vinegar. Cover. Remove after 30 seconds and keep aside.
  • Bring four cups of water to boil in a pan. Put the two lentils in it and cook till done to taste. Drain the water and season with a little salt.
  • Add soaked rice to the lentils in the pan, along with 1 tbsp oil, salt, pepper and coriander. Stir for 2-3 minutes. Then pour 3 cups of warm water. Cook uncovered on low medium flame till the liquid dries. Remove from stove. Keep aside. While the rice and lentils are cooking, add the elbow pasta to boiling water with a dash of salt and a little oil. Cook until al dente.
  • Mix rice, lentil, chickpeas and pastas. Fluff the rice and lentils with a fork and transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle all over with toasted bread, pasta and ½ of the tomato sauce. Add boiled chickpeas after heating a little. Spread half of the the crispy onions on top as garnish.
  • Serve the remaining sauce and crispy onions separately as accompaniment.

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