Koshari and the Copt

Starting tomorrow, Coptic Christians will be observing the third week of lent. And you know what this means, we are running out of ideas for lenten meals! And as I finish typing that last sentence, I can not help but remember what our Bishop said a couple of weeks ago (when he was visiting us to celebrate the start of the Fast of Ninevah or what some call Jonah's fast) in regards to fasting. He said that to fast means to control all desires...desires of the ear, eyes, mouth, etc. Fasting is not only abstaining from food but abstaining from that which distracts us from God, and with fasting comes prayer.  And here is the real kicker:  he said that if you feel that after fasting nothing has changed, then you did not really fast. How true! I am sure that he has reached a level of spirituality that empowers him to be completely "full" while abstaining from all earthly desires. 

But because I am on the bottom rung of this spiritual ladder, I still care about things like food, clothing and sale items from J. Crew. Someday. Someday.

I wanted to share with you today how to make a delicious and fulfilling staple found in all Egyptian homes during this fast. Yep! You guessed it...Koshari. And if you didn't guess right, don't be disappointed. It just means you are not Egyptian. 

When I taught in Cairo with expats from Jersey, California and Maryland, I remember them bringing koshari for lunch the majority of the time. I would chuckle and tell them that koshari had an expiration date. That they just couldn't buy it from an eatery on day one and think it would last until day five. Surprisingly, they never got sick, but I did. I got sick of seeing them eat koshari. They LOVED koshari.

This is how I make koshari. And there are many different ways to make it. 

Let me know what you think.



I get my lentils from El Nouri in Patterson, New Jersey. I took my kids once, and they said the area reminds them of Egypt. No kidding. Almost everything is written in Arabic. If you miss the homeland, El Nouri is a good substitute. Rinse the lentils in water to remove all the impurities. And I don't measure anything. 

I render enough onions in oil (again, I don't really measure) to bring me to a full-fledged cry, not just tears. And then add the lentils. The lentils are cooked until they are almost tender.

Then add the rice, spices (cumin, salt and pepper) and enough water to cook the grains.

This is what it looks like when it is done.

Cook any kind of pasta you like. I like to use ditalini by Barilla. 

The koshari sauce is the key to a tasty dish. You need to render two or three garlic cloves in oil, and when they are golden, splash them with vinegar and add the tomato sauce. The sauce is seasoned with salt, pepper and allspice.

Dust sliced onions in flour and fry in oil. 

This is what the onions look like when they are done. In eateries, they refer to the fried onions as "el waard" or the flowers that decorate the mountain of lentils and pasta.

This is what it looks like when it is plated. Delicious...

And fulfilling!

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