The Return of Kushari
By Tom // Posted 31 January, 2009 in: Minneapolis, Restaurants
Followers of my previous blogging efforts might remember a summary of food I was eating in Egypt and a particularly appetizing picture of the Egyptian delicacy known as kushari. To refresh your memory:
I haven’t had kushari since I was in Egypt, which was in the summer of 2006. It is not something I have ever tried to make at home since it involves making rice and pasta and lentils and chickpeas and tomato sauce and fried onions and is nowhere near good enough to justify the effort. Plus, in Egypt, a bucketful could be had for about 50 american cents. So imagine my joy when I walked into the Lyndale Grill & Grocery for a gyro but saw on the specials board “koushary”. Here it is, hot out of the microwave:
This was an especially felicitous discovery since I was working through a daunting hangover all day and there’s nothing better for it. Here’s a detail shot so you can see all the delicious ingredients:
So, how does Minneapolis kushari compare with the real thing? You can see that the only pasta here is rigatoni, whereas in the Egyptian version there were two kinds of vermicelli and something like ditalini. The smaller pasta shapes give the kushari a more cohesive texture. Also, one of my favorite things about kushari in Egypt was the vinegary hot sauces that came on the side and could be applied liberally. The tomato sauce on the Minneapolis kushari was very good and nicely spicy so hot sauce wasn’t strictly necessary but it would have been nice. On the other hand, the use of yellow (probably too much to call it saffron rice) instead of the plain white used in Egypt added flavor to a dish that is so heavy on starch that it leans to the bland side. Eating kushari out of a foam tray rather than a plastic bucket was not really the same, and a metal fork was no improvement over a plastic spoon but, such are the trials one must endure. In any case, kushari is not something to be analyzed, it is something to be shoveled down the hatch.