December 27, 2010

Egyptian Cooking 101

My husband and I just got back from a 24 day vacation, a Mediterranean Cruise. We visited 3 continents- Europe, Africa, Asia. We enjoyed our days exploring Spain, Morocco, Grand Canaria, Madeira, Italy, Greece, Turkey (the Asiatic part), Egypt and Malta.

Between the delicious food on the boat, of course we dined on delicious local cuisine as well in most cities. However, there were certainly areas we couldn't eat for GI safety reasons - like Morocco and Egypt- so instead we've opted for cook books to bring a taste of the cuisine home with us.

Tonight was my first foray in to our Egyptian cook book. This book has so many delicious recipes that we really just need to make every single one.

Since we splurged on so many sweets and meats while we were away, we're trying to eat as light and vegetarian right now.

Tonight's dish was a super vegan dish. We both agree this is a make again, and often. And it makes so much that I'm certainly getting plenty of leftovers for lunches!

It seemed like an odd, carb-heavy, mix to me for a meal. But the flavors were fabulous and it was incredibly filling and hearty. I did make a few alterations, which of course I'll list here.

Do make this - it's such a great intro to Egyptian food- which really seems very similar to Turkish and other African type foods.

Kushari be'adds abu gibba
aka Brown lentils with rice and macaroni

For Daqqa (Sauce)
6 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup white vinegar
salt to taste
1 teaspoon chili pepper (or 1 teaspoon Siracha, which is what we used)
2 cups tomato juice (I used 1 8oz can tomato sauce and one can of water because it's what I had on hand)
2 T oil (I used barely 1 T)

1. Crush Garlic, salt and chili pepper together (I just crushed garlic and tossed with siracha). Fry in oil until light and golden brown.
2. Add tomato juice and cook until sauce thickens and oil rises to the top. Add vinegar and bring to a boil. Then let simmer until you're ready to use it.

For the main dish
1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked through
1 cup rice, uncooked
1/2 cup vermicelli (Please note I used 1 cup of Barilla broken pasta in exchange for opting out of using the 1 cup of small pasta in addition, it just seemed like too much starch)
1 cup small pasta like elbow or ditalini (again I omitted this and added the extra 1/2 cup of broken pasta)
1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed and warmed
2 large onions chopped
1/4 cup oil.

1. Slice onions and fry in oil until golden brown, then remove and set aside. Fry the pasta in the remaining hot oil until golden brown. Add 1 1/2 cups water and a little salt and bring to a boil. Add rice and continue cooking until water is absorbed and rice is fully cooked. **NOTE - This part used WAY more than 1 1/2 cups water, probably closer to 2.5 cups water and I had to keep a really close eye on it to make sure it didn't stick. I did cook it covered but kept stirring and adding water as needed. Still took about 30 minutes**

2. In another pot boil the lentils in 2 cups of water for about 40 minutes until tender then drain and rinse with water. Keep them warm.

3. In another pot, boil water and cook the small pasta until done, drain and rinse and keep warm.

4. To serve, layer in the following order: rice with vermicelli, macaroni, lentils, chickpeas, onions then the sauce.

Oh my gosh, heavenly good!! Enjoy!!!

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