Kushali is one of the favorite dishes of the Egyptians and is known as the “national dish” of Egypt. There are different theories as to its origin, the most common being that the dish was derived from the Indian dish “Khichdi”. It is said that Indian soldiers brought this dish to Egypt during World War I, and the dish of lentils and rice has been popular in Egypt ever since. Later, the Italians living in Egypt added macaroni to this dish. After combining the styles of Indian and Italian dishes, the Egyptians added new content to the dish, such as fried onions, tomato sauce, cumin powder, chili sauce, garlic juice, garlic vinegar, chickpeas, etc.
In the early days, kushali was usually sold on street carts, and now this dish has found its way into restaurants in Egypt. Kushali in different provinces of Egypt have slightly different ingredients. For example, in Cairo, the main ingredients of Kushali include rice, macaroni, black lentils, chickpeas and so on. Usually these ingredients are cooked separately and mixed together when eaten. According to personal preference, you can add tomato sauce, garlic juice, garlic vinegar, fried onions, chili sauce for seasoning. Shopkeepers usually make their own ingredients instead of using ready-made sauces sold in supermarkets.
In Alexandria, the black lentils are replaced by yellow lentils, and the rice is seasoned with curry and cumin, which enriches the overall color of the kusari. In addition, Alexandria’s Kushali will also add Egyptian egg rolls, and use pickled tomatoes instead of ketchup to make the taste more layered.
An Egyptian friend told me that the most important thing is to see if the fried onions and tomato sauce are well done. The main function of fried onions is to enhance the aroma, while the function of tomato sauce is to dissolve the greasyness of fried onions. The process of making delicious tomato sauce is very complicated. The raw materials include not only tomatoes, but also garlic, parsley, onions, red peppers, white vinegar, vegetable oil, etc. The tomato sauce made in this way can imbue every mouthful of rice, every bean, and every piece of macaroni with a special sour, fragrant and smooth taste, which makes people have endless aftertaste.