05 February 2010

EZ 2B Vegetarian in Egypt


My very good friend moved to Spain. She laments that it is so difficult to be a vegetarian in Spain. They love meat.

I am always so happy to report about all the fantastic vegetarian options that I have in Egypt. Best of all, most of these foods are staples to an Egyptian diet.

Here's just a few fabulous vegetarian meals you will find plenty of in Egypt:

fuul beans, ta'miya (falafel), eggplant, labna (yogurt cheese), bisara (white bean), hummus (chickpea puree), babaghannuug (eggplant puree), and kushari.


Kushari is a mix of brown lentils, chickpeas, rice, macaroni, and onions.

Fruits and vegetables are fresh and found everywhere.

Mangoes and pomegranates are in season now.

Nothing tastes more fabulous that a fresh fruit.

Food, it's not just for eating!

I'm not usually fond of changing the subject when I'm discussing food, but since this is kinda food related, I'll digress.

Since I've moved to Egypt and away from the convenience of my one-touch shopping baskets at Ulta, Sephora, and Lush, I have had to become resourceful in keeping supply of high-quality beauty products.

I've started to making my own beauty products. Depending on le fruit du jour, I use the seeds, skins, or scrapings to make facial masks, scrubs, tonics, and body scrubs. Everything seems to work very beautifully. In fact, I'm enjoying better skin since I've gone natural. It seems to work in this overly polluted environment.

And now back to food. However you chose to translate it, here is a Koshary, Kosheri, Kushari Recipe to try. The measurements are in American measures.


Egyptian Koshary Recipe

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups uncooked white rice
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 (16 ounce) package uncooked elbow macaroni
1 cup beluga lentils, soaked in water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 onions, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
4 ripe tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

How to Prepare

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in rice; continue stirring until rice is coated with oil, about 3 minutes. Add 3 cups water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes.

Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir in the macaroni, and return to a boil. Cook the macaroni uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the it has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain well in a colander. Return macaroni to cooking pot, cover and keep warm.

Soak lentils for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse; drain again. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a pot and stir in lentils. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until lentils are tender 15 or 20 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onions in the oil, stirring often, until they begin to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Onions should be a nice caramelized brown color. Add garlic and cook another minute. Remove from pan, drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Place half of the onion mixture into a saucepan. Mix in the vinegar. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste, black pepper, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, cumin, and cayenne (if using). Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 12 minutes.

Serve by placing a spoonful of rice, then macaroni, and then the lentils on serving plates. Sprinkle with some of the browned onions, then top with tomato sauce.


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