Category: Pasta with Vegetables
Difficulty: Medium Difficulty
Remember that kushary is a very simple working-class meal; there is nothing elegant to it, and you may wish to make and eat it for the same reason an Egyptian would--it’s satisfying, filling, and healthy.
You will be able to do steps 1, 2 and 3 at the same time if you are well organized. An easy way to serve kushary to a group of people is to leave the pasta in its colander from draining and rest it over a simmering pot of water. Place the mixing bowl of rice and lentils over another simmering pot of water to keep warm. Leave the tomato sauce in the saucepan you cooked it in and leave the onions in the skillet. Serve by spooning the cooked macaroni in a bowl and then spoon the rice and lentils on top. Spoon a quarter of the tomato sauce on top of the rice and then some onions. Serve the remaining sauce on the side. Eat with a spoon.
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Preparation Time: 2:30 hours in all
1. Slice the onions from the stem end into very thin slices, less than 1/16th inch. Arrange the onion slices on some paper towels, sprinkle generously with salt, and leave for 30 minutes covered with paper towels to absorb moisture.
2. Wash the lentils under running water. Put them in a medium-size heavy saucepan, add 1 cup water and 1 teaspoon of the salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are al dente, anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour. Check the lentils occasionally so they are not overcooked, since lentil cooking times differ; they should be ever so slightly hard, not completely soft. Add some water to the pot if it is drying out and the lentils are not yet cooked. Drain and reserve the lentils.
3. In another large, heavy saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, heat 2 tablespoons of the samna over medium-high heat, then cook the rice for 2 minutes, stirring continuously to coat all the grains, then add the remaining 2 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover while the rice cooks until the water is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes. Do not lift the lid or stir while the rice cooks.
4. While the lentils and rice are cooking, prepare the onions. In a large skillet, melt the remaining 5 tablespoons samna or heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion slices and coat with the samna or oil. Continue turning the onions as they turn from white to yellow to brown. Once they turn brown, 10 to 20 minutes, continue to cook until some turn dark brown, another 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the burner and quickly transfer the onions to a paper towel-lined platter to cool and drain. Once they are cool, they will have become crispy.
5. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of abundantly salted water to a vigorous boil and add the pasta. Cook until soft (not al dente) and drain well. Mix together the rice and lentils in a large metal (preferably) bowl with a pinch of black pepper, tossing gently with a fork. Serve according to the instructions above.
Note: Half the dry pasta should be short macaroni such as ditalini, tubetti, or small elbow and the other half should be spaghetti broken into 2-inch lengths. The 2 cups dry pasta should yield 4 cups cooked pasta.