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How To Make Kushari! It's Vegan And Gluten Free!


Brrr, do you feel that chill in the air? It's most certainly winter out there. The short days and cold nights makes me think of warm and cozy casseroles! There's no better way to warm up than with delicious comfort food!

If you haven't heard of kushari before, it's an Egyptian casserole type dish that combines macaroni, rice, and lentils. It's warm, savory, and a little bit spicy. The flavors are so unique and engaging. It is without a doubt, love at first bite.

I first fell in love with this dish at an Ethiopian buffet, however, I had no idea what it was called. The hunt was on, armed only with the few ingredients that I could easily distinguish. After a few days of passive searching and actively asking my friends if they knew what it could possibly be called, I arrived at a recipe for kushari.



My first kushari experience (top right)

I did not have all of the exact ingredients. I was unable to buy baharat seasoning in my small Canadian town, so I decided to make my own version of kushari with ingredients that everyone can find! The kushari I had at the buffet was very oily, and while it was incredibly delicious, it did give me a stomach ache after. My version is a bit lower in fat, but retains the delicious flavors, so you can eat to your hearts content without feeling guilty. I hope you LOVE it. Please let me know what you think!

Ingredients

1 onion chopped fairly fine
4 tbsp olive or coconut oil
2 garlic cloves minced
4 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1 cup dry macaroni (corn macaroni can be used if making it gluten free)
1 cup cooked lentils OR 1 can of lentils (drained and rinsed)
1 cup dry basmati rice (washed)
1/2 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp Madras curry powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon (I prefer Ceylon cinnamon but Cassia works well too and is much easier to find)
1/4 tsp paprika (I prefer smoked paprika, but regular paprika will work perfectly fine)
black pepper to taste
salt to taste

Directions

Cook macaroni and rice according to package directions, drain, and set aside.

In a large pot heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium heat, add onion, reduce heat to medium low, cook onions, stirring frequently until caramelized. Onions will turn a rich golden brown and taste sweet almost like candy. Caramelizing onions does take a while, but be patient and don't rush it as this complex flavor is a very important part of this dish.



Stir in tomato paste, minced garlic, the remaining 3 tbsp of oil, water, allspice, garlic powder, onion powder, curry powder, cinnamon, paprika, salt, and pepper and cook for a few more minutes on low heat.



Stir in cooked lentils, cooked rice, and cooked macaroni until everything is well combined.

Heat on medium-low until hot throughout, stirring occasionally.



Serve immediately. Pairs very well with warm naan bread, pita bread, or roti. Forks optional! This recipe makes enough to serve 4-5 hungry individuals! :)

***HINT: As your palate adjusts to this new combination of flavours, you may want to increase the amount of spices to suit your now adapted taste buds. When I cook this at home, just for us, I tend to use quite a bit of spice, but if I'm preparing it for a potluck or for guests, I will scale back and use the amounts called for in my original recipe. The quality and freshness of spices will also determine how much you need to use. So, taste your cooking frequently! :)



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