When one visits a restaurant, one expects to be greeted with a menu of a selection of dishes under the appetiser/ starter, main dishes and dessert headings. To think that a restaurant could survive with only one dish as its golden prize is almost unthinkable in England, but Egyptian koshari restaurants are proving the notion wrong.
You could say that I was surprised when I visited one of Cairo’s best claimed koshari restaurants – Abou Tarek, in Downtown – and asked “What else do they serve?” and to be told “Two desserts”. If the place was deserted I would’ve understood why, but this joint was teaming with people huddling over steaming bowls of koshari.
For those who’re unfamiliar with this dish, koshari is a traditional Egyptian dish that consists of a strange combination of macaroni, spaghetti, rice, black lentils, chick peas, garlic sauce and a spicy tomato chili sauce, all topped with fried onions.
Image taken from: http://kosharirecipe.blogspot.com/
Yes, it sounds weird, and I scrunched up my face in distaste when I first heard about it a few months ago, but when the chickpeas are scattered over the carb-packed combo, then drowned with the tomato sauce, topped with the crunchy fried onions, mixed all together and finally ladled into your mouth, your face will soften into an expression of delight because it really is that good.
Koshari is extremely filling (are you surprised?!) and should be eaten slowly (easier said than done), and when the waiter asks you if you want rice pudding (ruz bil-laban), kindly tell him to come back a little later, to give your stomach time to get over the carb-tastic meal you’ve just devoured.
And you know what I love about the Abou Tarek restaurant apart from the cheesy water fountain with plastic ducks on the 2nd floor? Outside and inside you’ll find notices that says, ‘We have no other branches.”
– The Londoner