Meatless Monday: Ottolenghi’s Kosheri


Starting Meatless Monday with this recipe from Ottolenghi’s cookbook, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.  This is a completely unfamiliar dish for me, so cooking this felt a bit like reading a choose your own adventure book.

So what is Kosheri? According to Wikipedia it’s:

Kushari, also kosharykosheri or koshari (Egyptian Arabic: كشرى, [ˈkoʃæɾi]), is an Egyptian dish of ricemacaroni and lentils mixed together, topped with a tomato sauce, some add spaghetti garnished with chickpeas and crispy fried onions. A sprinkling of garlic juice and hot sauce are optional. 

This is one of those recipes that is better when put together rather than consumed as separate dishes. The lentil has a lovely texture when combined with the cinnamon rice and the crunchy vermicelli. The rice and lentil mix nicely cuts through the tartness of the tomato sauce. It’s great served with toasted lebanese bread and yoghurt or cucumber raita, though that may dilutes the dish’s authenticity!

I made some slight tweaks to the recipe, reducing the cinnamon as I found it bit too overpowering and using ghee rather than oil. This definitely taste better the next day when the flavours have time to settle and mingle together nicely. I’m tempted to taste this dish in a restaurant and see what the real version tastes like compared to this version.

Kosheri ( adapted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook)

  • 300g green lentils
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 tbs. ghee
  • 50g vermicelli noodles, broken into small pieces
  • 400 ml water or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (I’ve reduced it from 1 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 4 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 white onions, thinly sliced

Spicy tomato sauce

  • 4 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 hot red chilies, seeded & finely diced
  • 370 ml water
  • 8 ripe tomatoes
  • 4 tbs. cider vinegar
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbp. tomato paste
  • Handful of cilantro leaves, chopped

1. Start with the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the garlic and chillies and fry for 2 mins. Add the chopped tomatoes, water, vinegar, salt and cumin. Bring to the boil, then reduced the heat and simmer for 20mins, until slightly thickened. Remove the sauce from the heat, stir in the coriander and then tastes. See if you want to add any salt, pepper or extra coriander. Keep hot or leave to cool; both ways will work with the hot kosheri. Just remember to adjust the seasoning again when cold

2. To make the kosheri, place the lentils in a large sieve and wash them under a cold running tap. Transfer to large saucepan, cover with plenty of cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 mins. The lentils should be tender but far from mushy. Drain in a colander and leave to one side.

3. In a large bowl, cover the rice with cold water, wash and then drain well. Melt the ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the raw vermicelli, stir, and continue frying and stirring until the vermicelli turns golden brown. Add the drained rice and mix well until it is coated in the butter. Now add the stock or water, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, cover and then reduce the heat to a minimum and simmer for 12 mins. Turn off the heat, remove the lid, cover the pan with a clean tea towel and put the lid back on. Leave for 5 mins; this helps make the rice light and fluffy.

4. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and saute over a medium heat for about 20 mins, until dark brown. Transfer to kitchen paper to drain.5. To serve, lightly break up the rice with a fork and then add the lentils and most of the onions, reserving a few for garnish. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Pile the rice high a serving platter and top with remaining onion. Serve hot, with the tomato sauce. 

3 thoughts on “Meatless Monday: Ottolenghi’s Kosheri

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