One of Egypt’s most popular meals Koshary is ready to be prepared around the world for international food lovers to try. This inexpensive meal is commonly served on street stalls that are found all over the country.
Koshary is a vegetarian dish that has a base of pasta and rice topped with chick-peas, lentils, fried onion and a mix of tomato, spicy and vinegar sauces.
Abo Tarek, a popular place which prepares Koshary, is located in the heart of downtown Cairo, and is known for its quick yet delicious service.
But a funky new restaurant on the upmarket island of Zamalek is seeking to bring this national favorite to a new audience.
Cairo Kitchen is based on Koshary but its chef says it broadens the recipe to include ingredients more often found in traditional home-cooking with a contemporary twist.
Said Hassanein, executive chef of Cairo Kitchen, explains they serve traditional koshary as well as ‘wellbeing koshary’ using brown rice and whole wheat pasta; Alexandrian koshary which uses a king prawn tagine on rice; as well as a fareek version, using cracked wheat topped with spicy chicken liver.
Customers are offered a different variety that they can choose from to satisfy their taste buds.
The executive chef has won several awards in Egypt as well as internationally.
Having worked in Saudi Arabia, Hassanein received an opportunity to take his expertise in Koshary to another level. He was contacted by Cairo Kitchen owners, Nadine Beshir and Suzanne Zeidy.
‘‘People used to always ask me ‘What’s Egyptian cuisine and what kind of food do you eat in Egypt?’ And I always felt that Egyptian cuisine is very much under-rated and under-offered and not very well presented to the world,’’ said Beshir.
‘‘Street food is one of the most flavorsome foods to eat, you know, and koshary is a very common food, and it’s a street food, everybody eats it and we wanted to just provide that in a more contemporary, upbeat setting,’’ added Zeidy.
Beshir and Zeidy are planning to open a similar restaurant in London and possibly New York.
‘‘I’ve been here now for three and a half years as an ambassador of the Netherlands in Cairo and I’m enjoying in general the food, but what I ate today I think was excellent because often I’m afraid it’s too fatty the food, but the food here was so light,’’ said Susanna Th. Blankhart, Dutch Ambassador to Egypt.
‘‘That’s what I liked very much, it’s traditional food, you have a big choice, first of all, so we had Koshary, the traditional Koshary, but also made in different ways with some excellent healthy foodstuff - and we really have to take care of our health these days,’’ added Blankhart.
Everyday street food is consumed by millions of Egyptians as it is more affordable for everyone to buy from. However, the cost of Koshary at a restaurant caters to a wealthier crowd.