Koshari is an Egyptian dish, traditionally vegetarian, made from rice, lentils and pasta, topped with a tomato sauce. All these ingredients should be available from even the most miserably depleted of shops but we’ve taken some liberties here and simplified our version, swapping the lentils for tinned chickpeas, to save on time (and washing up one more pan…).
It’s still not the quickest of recipes in this book (it may even be the longest…), but it is impressive, so it’s a great one to make when you have people round, especially if you have a helper on hand to be your sous chef. The yoghurt is in no way traditional but tastes really good.
- For the Koshari:
- 240g basmati rice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 medium-large onions, halved and sliced
- pinch of salt
- 40g spaghetti, snapped into short little bits
- 1 tsp groundnut oil or other neutral oil
- 1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 480ml boiling water
- 100g small pasta, like macaroni
- 20g butter, in small chunks
- handful of parsley, leaves picked
- For the tomato sauce:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 15g butter
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
- tiniest pinch of dried chilli flakes
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the yoghurt sauce:
- 3 heaped tbsp Greek-style natural yoghurt
- 1/2 garlic clove, crushed or finely grated squeeze of lemon juice
- sea salt to taste
First things first, start the koshari: rinse the rice in cold water to remove excess starch, then leave to sit in a bowl of warm water for 20 minutes while you get everything else ready.
Start making the tomato sauce. Add the oil and butter to a pan on a medium heat. When melted, add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes – as soon as the garlic starts to colour, add the cinnamon and leave to cook for a minute, before adding the tomatoes, crushing them through your hand as you pour them into the pan (or you could use a masher to help break them down once they're in the pan.) Add the chilli flakes and season with salt and pepper, then turn the heat down and leave to simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes.
Continue with the koshari. Add the olive oil to another pan – use one for which you have a lid, as you will cook the rice in this later. Put on a medium heat, then add the onions and a pinch of salt. Fry until brown and starting to turn a little bit crisp round the edges. Don’t be tempted to try and rush this bit by turning up the heat – it doesn’t work (we’ve tried…).
When the onions have reached the desired cooked-ness, remove from the pan and put on a plate to the side. Heat the same pan again and when hot, add the spaghetti strands. These will go crisp pretty quickly so keep the pan moving, and then remove them to the onion plate when they are brown, crisp and toasted (taste one to check if you’re unsure they’re cooked through).
Reduce the heat under the tomato sauce or take it off the hob if it looks like it is drying out too much; keep it warm.
Boil a full kettle of water for the rice. Using the same pan that contained the onions/pasta, add the groundnut oil and when hot, add the drained rice and the chickpeas. Cook for a couple of minutes, giving it all a good mix so that everything gets coated. Add the measured boiling water (from the kettle), turn up the heat and bring to the boil, then put a lid on the pan and turn the heat down to low-ish. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Do not open the lid to peek at the rice during this time.
In the meantime, prepare your yoghurt sauce by simply stirring all the ingredients together.
Fill and boil the kettle again, then fill a small saucepan with freshly boiled water, add salt and cook the macaroni for 10 minutes or as per the packet instructions. When cooked, drain and leave to the side.
When the rice cooking time is up, remove from the heat and leave it to stand for another 5 minutes without removing the lid.
Take the lid off the rice pan, dot with the butter and give it a mix, then add the macaroni, onions and crispy spaghetti (keep a handful back for the topping). Give it all a good mix and taste for seasoning. Serve on a platter, with the tomato sauce spooned on top, blobs of the garlicky yoghurt, the remaining spaghetti strands and parsley.