Koshary is one of the best, cheapest meals in Egypt. Almost nobody makes it at home because it is so cheap to order it and it is labor intensive. I used Samia Abdennour's recipe from her book, Egyptian Cooking, A Practical Guide. Then I made some additions to make it more like I had at the restaurant.
1 cup brown lentils
1 cup rice (I used Basmati. It is a long grain rice that they use or a combo)
1/8 kg macaroni (dittalini pasta is the closest but use whatever small pasta or elbow macaroni you have)
2 large onions, chopped
2 tablespoons oil
2 cups tomato sauce
hot chili (optional), salt
Cook lentils in salted water until tender. Strain. Cook rice in salted water until tender. Strain. Cook macaroni, preferably the small, round variety, strain, rinse, and strain again.
Place these three ingredients in a cooking pot. Fry onions (in a separate pan) to a rich brown (almost black), then remove the onions onto absorbent paper and strain the oil into the lentil mixture. Return the pot to the flame and cook for 7-10 minutes, tossing often to prevent sticking.
Serve by topping each individual plate with tomato sauce and fried onions. Sprinkle with hot chili.
Recipe for Samia's Tomato Sauce
2 cups tomato juice (or any tomato product, I used whole peeled tomatoes b/c I got a ton of them on sale and then just pureed later)
1-2 onions, chopped very finely
5-7 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon vinegar (white vinegar)
cooking oil, salt, pepper
Saute onions until soft, then add garlic and fry to a pale brown. Add tomato juice and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until sauce is cooked and becomes dark. Add vinegar and seasonings and cook 2-3 minutes longer.
This dish is usually served with two side sauces: a cumin, vinegar, garlic sauce and a spicy, tomato/chili sauce. I decided to just add some red pepper flakes to the dish, but I did make the cumin, vinegar, garlic sauce:
Take garlic cloves and hit the with the end of the knife, but don't break them up. Add into white vinegar. Add some cumin and coriander into the vinegar. Stir and let the flavors meld. I think they use whole seeds because when you get the sauce, you can definitely taste the cumin, but it just looks like a clear, slightly yellow liquid.
The keys to this dish are the fried onions and that cumin, garlic vinegar sauce.
I combined everything together and it tasted pretty authentic. It can be spicier in the restaurant, but I didn't spice it up too much so that Ian could eat it. Also, unlike other areas, Egyptians don't like things very hot anyway. As I was looking around for recipes, I saw one that said their was hot paprika in that chili sauce as well.
I added some extra salt to the lentil mixture. Egyptian cooking is all about oil, salt, onions, garlic and cumin. You can't have too much. I also added chickpeas which are usually in this as well.