Friday, January 18, 2013

Egyptian Food

William has inspired me to resume our round-the-world cooking project and over the past six weeks we have cooked food from Egypt, Israel, Persia, and Pakistan.  

I haven't talked about our family project for quite awhile, so if you are new let me bring you up to speed. About four (or possibly even five) years ago I decided to expand our culinary horizons.  We were stuck in a dinnertime rut of eating the same things over and over again. I decided to mix things up by cooking our way around the world - and you know it has worked as I have added many new fantastic recipes to our family favourites   Not only have we found new recipes we like, but everyone has enjoyed learning what foods and recipes are made in other countries.  

Here's how it works. I decided we would start in Ireland and work our way from one country to the next around the world.  We have cooked our way through northern Europe, over to Russia, back through central and southern Europe and then across northern Africa.  I search for traditional recipes on Google from the country we are in and then make them for dinner. I also try to set the table using something that reminds me of the country (not that it is always possible, but I just have fun picking a colour or pattern that reminds me of the area).

We were doing well and sampling a new country every few months when we hit Libya.  Right after I cooked Libyan food the country exploded into civil war.  I was posting the recipes I made on the blog as we did them, but I just couldn't post about something so frivolous as cooking food when people were dying in Libya.  It rather took the wind out of my sails and I didn't cook any more countries for well over a year.  William mentioned this fall that we really should keep going ... and so we did.  Now William Googles the recipes and helps me cook them which makes it much easier.  He has even decided he wants to try and make some bread from each country too.  Oh, and he has also decided we are doing cultural groups not countries (did you notice Persia listed above?).  It's all fine with me as the fun for me is trying new recipes.

A few weeks ago we made Egyptian food (well I hope it is pretty authentic anyway).  I have been to Egypt, but when we were there we mostly ate chicken and falafels and shawarmas.  One of the dishes that was frequently mentioned when we Googled traditional Egyptian food was koshary so that is what we made.  It is a lentil and rice dish with several yummy toppings (I adapted the recipe from here).  We also made two kinds of salads and some Egyptian bread.  


16 oz package of ditalini pasta
1 1/2 cups short-grained rice, rinsed
1 1/2 cups brown lentils 
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp butter
 3 cups chicken stock

1.  Cook the pasta according to directions on the package, drain and set aside.
2.  Combine lentils with enough water to cover and season with salt and pepper.  Boil for about 45 minutes. Drain
3.  Cook the onions and garlic in the olive oil until translucent (about 5 to 7 minutes).  Add the crushed tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook.
4.  Melt butter in a pan.  Add the rice to the butter and cook over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes stirring constantly.  Pour the chicken stock over the rice, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and cook until rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed (about 20 minutes).
5.  Mix the rice and lentils together on a large serving platter.  Spread the cooked pasta over the rice and lentils.  Spread the tomato mixture over top.  Serve with seasoned chick peas and caramelized onions.

Seasoned Chick Peas
1 14.5 oz can chick peas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Combine ingredients, cover, and store in refrigerator while preparing the rest of the dish.

Caramelized Onions
3 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tbsp oil (or more if needed)
pinch of sugar
Cook in oil for 25 minutes stirring often.

My son made some Egyptian Garlic Yogurt Cucumber Salad (adapted from this recipe) which was fantastic (even better the next day).

Egyptian Garlic Yogurt Cucumber Salad

4 oz plain yogurt
1/2 cucumber, grated finely
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp dill
salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients, cover, store in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

William made some ancient Egyptian bread using this recipe.  It tasted great and was perfect for dipping into the yummy yogurt cucumber salad.

And finally, I made this Egyptian Salad. Although it looked great and tasted fine, I made too much and we preferred the koshary and the cucumber salad.  

And here is the whole shebang on my plate.  It was hard to get many photos as everyone was hungry and wanted to eat. The koshary was a big hit, as was the cucumber salad and the Egyptian bread.

I like to record the recipes we have tried (and especially if we have enjoyed them) here on my blog as I find it an easy way to locate them again.  I'll try and get the other countries posted soon.  We are now in India and that will take us awhile as William is keen on sampling many of the foods from the varied cultural groups in India.

Also in case you were interested in some of the other foods we have cooked, here is a list (although the list is not complete because some of the countries were cooked in my pre-blog days):

Ireland - Colcannon
Norway - Fiskesuppe
Italy - several dishes (not our favourites)
FranceSalade Nicoise and Seafood Stuffed Crepes
Spain - Paella
Morocco - Casablanca Couscous and Moroccan Chicken with Apricots

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  1. This looks so fabulous. My mother used to make something called Egyptian Stew that included ground beef...similar to your first recipe though...we LOVED it as kids. That salad has my mouth watering.

  2. This sounds like such fun---I've been exploring Middle Eastern food myself lately, but I haven't delved into anything specifically Egyptian yet.

  3. I think I had koshary when I was in Egypt! I am pretty sure that's what it was. I would love to try to make it at home - thanks for sharing!

  4. What a great thing to do for your family.
    You have inspired me!
    Combining family, food, and learning something culturally new is wonderful.

    White Spray Paint

  5. I forgot that you were doing this and I think it is such a good idea. I am definitely in a cooking slump! I think I will start with the Moroccan recipes.

  6. You always have the best food parties Grace! I love this! I wish I had the gumption to do this, but I do have 2 picky eaters who do not care for ethnic. Wishing you a wonderful week! Angie xo

  7. I remember some of these recipes. I need to use the links and check them all out! I love Egyptian food. My across the street neighbor is from Egypt, and she can bake the best cakes!

    Super post. It's fun to get out of our comfort zone in the kitchen from time to time!