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Kushari (Egyptian National Dish)

Kushari (Egyptian National Dish)

Featured Spices
1 onion, diced
2 – 4 garlic cloves, minced (amount of garlic to suit tastes)
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar
½ - 1 teaspoon red chile flakes (try Thai for more spicy or Aleppo for more flavor)
½ teaspoon salt
½ tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons baharat
2 tablespoons olive oil
pepper to taste

Crispy onions:
1 onion, finely sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ cups brown lentils, rinsed
1 ½ cups medium grain rice, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
½ cup spaghetti, broken into 1 inch pieces
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
water for cooking

Oh the lovely carbs. Kushari may be heavy in carbs but they are complex and oh so delicious. This very traditional dish is so well loved in Egypt that it has become the national dish, served by street vendors, in restaurants and in Egyptian homes.

This vegetarian dish is made with simple and nutrient-packed ingredients: lentils, pasta, rice, chickpeas, tomatoes and onions. Plus a small cadre of spices to kick up the flavor, and topped with crispy, caramelized onions for an added kick. Simple and delicious, we can see why Egyptians have made Kushari into a staple.

Grains and legumes

Rinse rice in cool water, agitating the rice with your hand. Drain and repeat the rinsing process until the water is no longer cloudy. Cover the rice once more in cool water and set aside to soak for 15 minutes.

Drain the chickpeas and rinse under cool water. Set aside for later.

Rinse the lentils and add them to 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring water to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the lentils are just beginning to tender. Drain the water out and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for later.

Drain the rice and transfer to a saucepan with the lentils. Add olive oil and heat over medium-high. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes and then add 3 cups water (or just enough to cover the rice and lentils).

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes (or until the water has been absorbed and the lentil and rice mixture is softened. Remove from heat and set aside covered.

Break the dried spaghetti into 1 inch pieces. Cook the elbow macaroni and spaghetti according to the package directions. Drain and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

Crispy onions

Cut the onion into thin slices. In a medium mixing bowl, mix flour and salt. Add the onions and toss in salted flour to coat all slices.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high. Add the coated onion and sauté until crispy and golden brown (about 15 – 20 minutes), stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside on a paper towel lined plate to drain.

Tomato sauce

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high. Sauté the onion about 5 – 7 minutes, or just until transparent and soft. Add the garlic and continue sautéing until aromatic (about 1 minute).

Mix in the following:
diced tomatoes (including the liquid)
red chile flakes (Aleppo pepper or Thai chili)

Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer over low for 20 minutes. Stir on occasion and add small amounts of water if liquid cooks off.

Serving Kushari

In a large mixing bowl, toss the rice and pastas to mix. Spoon a mound of rice/pasta mixture into serving bowls. Add lentils and chickpeas over the rice and pasta. Next, scoop the tomato sauce mixture over top of the lentils and garnish with crispy onion mix.

Serve warm.

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