I’ve always been a YUGE fan of carbs, especially pasta. But nothing on the entire planet beats the carbo-loaded awesomeness of the closest thing Egypt has to a national dish. It’s called koshari, and it’s ahh-mazing! Oh and it costs like 30 cents at today’s exchange rates.
Koshari looks like a super simple meal to make, but it’s more complicated than you would think. It requires a lot of cooking and boiling and stirring and TLC to get it just right, which is probably why I’ve never had good koshari anywhere but in Egypt. In the US I’ve searched high and low for real kosheri, but even the few Egyptian restaurants in the US that I’ve tried haven’t been able to make kosheri like you get from a cart or find in side street shop in Egypt.
The basic ingredients are simply Egyptian rice, elbow macaroni noodles, chickpeas, lentils, caramelized onions, and a special tomato sauce mixed with Arab spices. But there’s something about the mix of spices and the simmering that people outside of Egypt just can’t seem to replicate.
Tables in koshari shops usually also have a super hot sauce and a tangy lemony sauce too that you can add. I usually forego the hot sauce and drizzle a little tangy sauce over my koshari. Yum.
Koshari is the type of thing that would make the perfect drunk food if someone could figure out how to make it outside of Egypt, since Egypt doesn’t have zillions of drunk youth running around puking in the streets every weekend night like America and Europe do. It would be so much tastier than disgusting oily jumbo slice pizza at 2am.
Unfortunately, though, only those who venture to Egypt will get the privilege of experiencing the delicious awesomeness of kosheri. And when you’re in Cairo, my absolute favorite koshari place is called Koshari el Tahir just off Tahir Square. It’s on El Tahrir Street just off Talaat Harb Street. Any local will know it well.
Bon appétit, or in Arabic – bil hana wa shifa’.