Time for a Recipe! Carrara’s Killer Koshari

Disclaimer: Don’t get used to finding recipes in my blog. Domestic diva, I am not! But if I am good for anything in the kitchen, it’s dishing out food so spicy it makes grown men cry. My recipe for koshari is no exception!

Since 9 out of 10 people don’t know what koshari is, I’d like to think of it as Egypt’s answer to Cincinnati Chili. Or, as Cooking Light magazine recently described it, “a starch-lover’s dream come true.” Served in street carts, fast food restaurants and in the home in Egypt, koshari is a mix of rice, lentils and pasta topped with a sweet-and-spicy tomato sauce. It warms the heart, fills the belly and satisfies your carb cravings AND your spice cravings in one fell swoop. Sound improbable? Don’t knock it ’til you tried it!

Everybody’s been asking me for my koshari recipe, so here it is. It’s based on a bunch of other recipes I’ve tried, with my own personal touch. Warning: I like it HOT ;) Enjoy!

Carrara’s Killer Koshari
Serves 6

The Carbs:

4 cups Knorr vegetable boullion
1 bay leaf
1 cup brown lentils
1 cup white basmati rice (don’t substitute regular rice! Basmati has an awesome flavor and texture)
1 cup uncooked small pasta (I like macaroni elbows, or you can use ditalini or small shells)

The Sauce:

2 large onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno or Serrano chile, minced (leave the seeds in for extra heat; omit them if you’re scared, girlie man)
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tsp. cumin (or more, to taste)
1 tbsp. crushed red chile pepper flakes (If you want less heat, start off with 1/4 tsp. or so and work your way up)
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Bring 4 cups of water and 2 cubes of Knorr vegetable boullion to a boil. Drop in a bay leaf and lentils. Simmer lentils, covered, for at least 15 minutes, or until they become tender.
2. Add rice and simmer until rice is cooked, adding water if necessary to keep it from sticking to the pan.
3. Cook macaroni in a separate pot; drain when it’s done.
4. Somewhere between step 1 and 2 (don’t laugh at my timetable!) you’ll want to fry the onions, garlic and jalapeno in about 2 tbsp. olive oil until they’re golden brown. Don’t just saute them – really let them get caramelized because this is what creates the sauce’s nice sweetness.
5. Add tomatoes, chili flakes, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper, tasting and adjusting the spice as you go along. Let the sauce bubble for 10-20 minutes, until thickened.
6. Buzz the sauce in a food processor until smooth, or leave it chunky. I think it’s far better smooth.
7. Mix all of your carbs (rice, lentils, pasta) in one pot.
8. Spoon some of the carbs onto your plate and top with the sauce. Sprinkle on more chile flakes, if you dare!

Tastes great with a simple arugula salad and some warmed pitas. Enjoy!

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