Savour the bounty and tastes of Egypt with their national dish – Koshari rice. Typically made with layers of pasta, lentils and rice covered with an aromatic tomato sauce and lots of fried onions, Koshari is the perfect street food among Egyptian city dwellers. Here, in North American it’s a popular vegetarian dish.
Today’s recipe is a variation of the traditional koshari. Onion, although tasty, is quite fermentable in the gut. Nobody wants to feel bloated or gassy after their meal, so we have eliminated it.
Black beans are used to replace lentils in this version as they exceed the values of potassium, protein, iron, calcium and B6 vitamins. A few sweet corn niblets are included since it works so well with black beans.
A layer of feta cheese is added in the middle to include a full-balanced and hearty flavour throughout. This koshari satisfies the palate and includes all food groups.
As they would say in Egypt’s national language, Arabic:
bil haná wal shifá (may you have your meal with gladness and health)
- ¾ cup uncooked Basmati rice
- 1 and ½ cups small pasta (ditali, macaroni or small shells)
- ¾ cup corn niblets
- 1 tsp Garlic
- 1 tsp butter
- 1 tsp salt
- Tomato sauce (homemade is best)
- Black bean puree
- 1 and ½ cups crumbled feta cheese
- 2 fresh green chilies, chopped
To Make Perfect Basmati Rice:
Soak about 1 cup of basmati in a lot of warm water for about 15 minutes to 1 hr.
Rinse the rice several times by pouring the water through a siv, adding more water to the rice and straining through a siv – about 4 to 8 times.
ᵗ Removing as much starch as possible will make your basmati soft and fluffy.
Place your rinsed basmati in a pot of water (usually just a little less than double the rice amount – so for 1 cup of rice, use almost 2 cups of water).
Add 1 full tsp of butter and stir only once. After this, do not stir again (very important!).
Cover with a lid and bring to a very light boil.
Reduce heat to low-medium for about 10 to 15 minutes.
You know your basmati is done when 1 or 2 holes appear at the top of your rice.
Turn the heat off and leave it covered for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Then take a fork and fluff up the basmati by lightly running it along the top of the rice. Your basmati will instantly fluff up and the rice grains will separate.
- Cook the basmati rice in 1 and ½ cups of water and ½ tsp butter
- Grate 1 and ½ cups feta cheese and set aside
- Wash and cut up 2 chilies and set aside
- Warm up 1 and ½ cups of tomato sauce (see my recipe for homemade tomato sauce)
- Using a deep skillet, line the bottom with your pasta. Place the corn niblets over the pasta. Add the garlic, about 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp butter. Add about 3 cups water. Bring to a medium boil and cook until the pasta is al dente.
- Prepare your black bean puree
You can use a hand blender to puree a black bean soup, or mash up 1 can of black beans with fresh tomato chunked, about ¼ to ½ cup water, cilantro or flat leaf parsley, ground coriander, ground cumin, hot chilies and salt to taste. Add any flavor you like to the black bean puree.
Assemble the koshari rice:
- Using a slotted spoon, spoon out the pasta and corn into a 13”x9” glass (preferably) serving dish.
- Spread all the crumbled feta over the pasta
- Spoon the black bean puree over the feta.
- Sprinkle half the chopped chilies over the bean layer.
- Fluff the rice then cover the casserole with all the cooked rice.
- Use a ladle and drizzle some tomato sauce over the rice.
- Garnish with the remaining chopped chilies.
Try this meal with a cup of homemade Chai Tea:
In a sauce pot, boil 2 – 4 cups water with 2 regular tea bags (orange pekoe is perfect).
To the water, also add 4 or 5 whole cloves and 4 or 5 cardamom pods split open with a knife.
Boil the tea and spices together for about 5 minutes. Then add 1 cup of milk to the pot and continue to boil for another 5 minutes or so.
Sweeten with honey and a dash of cinnamon.
Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk about happy things.