So I’m sitting here watching Anthony Bourdain’s new Egypt episode, full aware that at any moment I will be either insulted for being vegan or accosted by scenes that will make me want to gag, or both. What can I say, I’m a glutton for punishment I guess, and world food and travel fascinate me. Anthony Bourdain is pretty entertaining when he’s not deliberately being an asshole.
Anyhow, after making it through the scene where he’s enjoying eating stuffed pigeons, much to my surprise, he featured a traditional Egyptian food that is totally vegan… and boy did it look good. It’s called Kushari, described in the Wikipedia as:
…a popular traditional Egyptian national dish, normally eaten in specialty Kushari restaurants that serve this dish exclusively. It consists of a base of rice, brown lentils, chickpeas, macaroni, and a topping of Egyptian garlic and vinegar and spicy tomato sauce (salsa). Caramelized onions are commonly added as a garnish. Kushari is normally a vegetarian and usually a vegan dish, possibly reflecting the vegan diet of Coptic Orthodox Christians during Lent and other fasts. It is becoming common to add fried liver or shawarma meat as an additional topping. It is often found in fast-food establishments that also serve ta’meyya/falafel. Smaller restaurants may serve either Kushari or ta’meyya while larger ones (often chain restaurants) usually serve both. It is an inexpensive dish, and serves as a staple food. Kushari is one of the most common and most popular dishes in Egypt.
Other than the liver and such this sounds absolutely delicious, and I’ll admit that for once Anthony was actually eating something that I very much wanted to try. He also showed some street vendors selling Foul, a vegan dish made from fava beans (it’s pronounced like ‘Fool’) which I’ve had a lot of and really like (though they were serving them here topped with egg). Imagine that, Anthony Bourdain turning vegans on to new dishes! Crazy I tell ya…
Of course just a few minutes later we were treated to a scene of a goat being ritually slaughtered and consumed, so don’t get too excited about Anthony Bourdain’s momentary foray into veganism via grains and legumes.
Does anyone know of any Egyptian restaurants in Los Angeles serving kushari? I’d love to try the real thing before attempting to make it on my own, though I welcome you to share some of your favorite kushari recipes in the comments.
Update: I found a vegan Kushari recipe online and then the page I found it on soon after disappered. Since I can’t link directly to it anymore I’ll reprint it here. This seems like a very simple recipe, I’d be interested in finding out if there are fancier versions as well. Enjoy, and let me know how it turns out if you give it a try!
Egyptian Style Kushari Recipe
10 cups water
8 oz macaroni (dry from the box, or fresh)
2 1/4 cups stock
1 cup long grain rice (uncooked)
2 – 4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, minced
2 cups canned diced tomato
8 oz can of lentils
pepper to taste
salt to taste
1 bunch parsley, minced
Directions: In a large stock pot, pour in the 10 cups of water, and place on the stove over high heat. Place the lid onto the pot, so that it comes to a boil more quickly. In a separate deep sided pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat the stock over high heat.
Mince your onions. Open up the can of tomatoes and lentils. Do not drain the cans of their extra liquid! In a large, shallow skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. When the oil gets hot, add the onions, and a healthy sprinkle of salt and pepper. Let cook over high heat for about five minutes, or until soft. Turn down the heat to medium, and add the canned tomato and lentils.
By now, the stock should be boiling. Add the rice to the pot, and wait for the stock to come up to a full boil (uncovered). When the water is boiling vigorously, turn down the heat to a simmer, and cover the lid. Give the skillet with the tomatoes a quick stir.
By now, the ten cups of water should be boiling. Liberally salt the water, and add the macaroni to the pot. Leave the lid off, and allow the macaroni to cook fully according to your liking.
The rice should take a total of twenty minutes to cook. The macarnoi should take no longer than ten minutes to cook. By the time the rice and macaroni are cooked through, the sauce will be the perfect consistency. If it looks a little too loose for your liking, turn up the heat to high, and allow it to cook down for a few minutes.
Drain the pasta, and put it back into the large pot. Stir in the sauce. Stir in the cooked rice. Generously garnish with the chopped parsley.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Check out the delicious looking and super easy to make vegan Kushari recipe that just got posted over at the What Geeks Eat blog… I don’t think you’ll need to look any further…
Kushari – because carbs are good too