BEING CLEOPATRA: Cleopatra's Culinary Adventures: Kushari

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cleopatra's Culinary Adventures: Kushari

To mark the Cleopatra exhibit with a special dinner, try Kushari, or Egyptian rice (above left), with Olive Salad (right). Shiny inexpensive costume jewelry bracelets make clever napkin rings, a la Cleopatra. Serve the food on plates with ancient Egyptian images such as these from Egyptian International Art in Mayfair mall.

Kushari (Egyptian rice)
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 cup brown lentils, washed
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup long-grain rice, washed
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 ½ cups warm water
4 large onions, sliced
1 cup cooked elbow pasta
1 cup cooked chickpeas
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
Hot sauce

In large saucepan with water, bring lentils to a boil. Remove pan from heat and let lentils sit, covered, 10 minutes or until all water absorbed. Transfer to a colander, rinse under running water and drain thoroughly.

In heavy pan, heat oil. Sauté rice and lentils over medium heat 2 minutes, until grains are well coated. Add salt, pepper, cumin, turmeric and warm water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally.

Mix in chickpeas and elbow pasta. Reduce heat, cover pan tightly and leave on low heat 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, deep-fry sliced onions in 2 batches in hot oil until caramelized, stirring occasionally and watching carefully so onions don't burn; this will take about half an hour. Serve fried onions and hot sauce as a garnish over the rice.

This recipe for a classic Egyptian dish comes from Azmi Alaeddin, chef-owner of Aladdin Middle Eastern Cuisine at the Milwaukee Public Market.

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