Recipe: Egyptian koshari balls

Mostafa Mahmod, head chef at Khofo restaurant, shares a recipe using two of his favourite ingredients: garlic and cumin

Koshari balls. Courtesy Khofo
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Both garlic and cumin are known for their restorative powers. The former is a bulbous root vegetable and is a species of the onion genus allium, while the latter is a flowering plant from the apiaceae family, and can be used in both seed and powder form. Garlic, highly prized for its taste and medicinal qualities in Indian, Italian and Asian cooking, has a spicy taste and pungent smell, but it mellows and sweetens upon cooking. Cumin, on the other hand, is known for its aromatic flavour and earthy taste, which makes it a useful addition to spicy gravies and curries. Both ingredients are good for health, and can aid digestion and boost immunity, as well as elevate the flavour of dishes from most cuisines.

Mostafa Mahmod, head chef at Khofo, an Egyptian restaurant at Al Seef in Dubai, is very matter of fact when it comes to the two ingredients: “Garlic and cumin powder are two of the simplest ingredients to cook with, yet they have always been given the highest value for adding taste to all the dishes in my kitchen.”

Mostafa Mahmod, head chef at Khofo restaurant
Mostafa Mahmod, head chef at Khofo restaurant

Koshari balls

Ingredients and method for the crispy onions

200g red onion, cut julienne in thin rings

2tsp white vinegar

Salt to taste

½ cup all-purpose flour

Cooking oil

Rinse the chopped onion rings with vinegar and sprinkle with salt, then toss in the flour to coat. Shake off any excess.

Heat the cooking oil in a pan over medium-high heat, and fry the onion rings until they turn a nice caramelised brown

Ingredients and method for the tomato sauce

Cooking oil, preferably corn oil

200g red onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1tsp coriander powder

1tsp cumin powder

1tsp chilli flakes

1tsp black pepper powder

400g belled tomato sauce

Salt, to taste

2tsp white vinegar

Heat the cooking oil in a saucepan. Cook the onions on medium-high heat until they turns a translucent gold.

Add the garlic and coriander, black pepper and cumin powders, as well as chili flakes to the onions. Saute briefly.

Finally, stir in the tomato sauce and add a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens.

Stir in some distilled white vinegar and turn the heat to low. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Ingredients and method for the koshari mix

1½ cup black lentil, boiled and rinsed

1½ cup Egyptian rice, soaked in water for 15 minutes and drained

1tbsp cooking oil, preferably corn oil

Salt, pepper and cumin powder, to taste

2 cups elbow pasta or spaghetti, or a mix of both

Boil 4 cups of water, then add the lentils. Reduce the heat to low and cook until lentils are just tender. Drain and season with a little salt.

To cook the rice, first boil water on medium-high heat, and add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, salt, pepper, cumin and then the rice. Once it is cooked well, keep the pot covered for an additional five minutes. Finally, make the pasta as per package instructions with boiling water, a dash of salt and a little oil.

Ingredients for breading

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 cup bread crumbs

2 eggs

Cooking oil

To assemble

Combine the three parts of the koshari together and roll into balls. Dip each in the egg batter, then toss in flour and bread crumbs until fully covered.

Heat the oil in a casserole and fry the Koshari balls.

Serve on a plate topped with tomato sauce and fried onions.


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