Sunday, 15 March 2009

Ahdaf Soueif's koshari

It's been a while since I tried a new recipe - as opposed to inventing my own - but when I saw Ahdaf Soueif's recipe for koshari in the G2 recipe swap in the Guardian the other day I was immediately intrigued. I'd recently got some feedback from the visitors to my student website that they wanted some more lentil recipes and thought it would fit the bill perfectly.

In fact I changed it quite a bit. I didn't have any vermicelli and thought it would be hard for students to find so I left it out. I used ordinary long grain rice instead of Egyptian rice (brown rice would be good I think too). I used canned tomatoes instead of fresh ones and slightly more of them than the recipe recommended and left out the tomato concentrate. I mixed the lime and garlic 'takhdi'ab' sauce with the tomato sauce as I thought it was more appealing that way. And I added fresh coriander both for the taste and the final appearance.

When I was writing it up for the website I also changed the running order of the instructions to make it easier to follow and ensure that everything ended up hot at the same time. If - or, rather when I make it again, as I loved it, I'll reduce the amount of lime a little to the amount I've suggested in my version of the recipe and maybe also add some toasted pinenuts. You could also serve it with a bowl of yoghurt (soy, if you wanted to keep it vegan) or some sautéed or steamed cauliflower or broccoli.

Harking back to the conversation we had a few weeks ago about whether to follow recipes or not this is very much how I would tackle a recipe these days. Not that I would claim in any way it's an improvement on the original but it's how I like it.

Do try it and put your own spin on it. It really ticks all the boxes. It's unusual, tasty, frugal (a great way of using up odds and ends of pasta packets), nutritious and a great communal dish to cook for vegetarian and vegan friends. What's not to like?

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