Way back in 2006, my mother in law took my husband and myself on a trip to Egypt. We went in a travel group with some of her friends and it was an amazing, once in a lifetime trip. We sailed down the Nile, walked in the great pyramids, smoked tobacco out of a hooka in a “men only” café ,rode camels, saw king Tut’s tomb, pondered how the Sphinx lost his nose, I even did Egyptian dancing in full regalia! It was fantastic, I do however have one regret…..I never ate Koshari. Even before our trip began I became obsessed with this high carb, no meat, street food that is on every corner from Cairo to Luxor. It’s a staple for the working folks there and it’s out of this world delish. Basically, it is rice, pasta, lentils, chickpeas, fried onions, and topped with “Shatta” which is an Arab tomato based hot sauce that they put on the top. As delicious as it is, it is also filling and affordable. I also noticed at the food stands they served rice stuffed pigeons, being in the height of the “bird flu” scare we avoided the pigeon. This amazing experience (which may never happen again) inspired today’s dish, but Koshari is one of those “use every pan you have” dishes, I being the sole dishwasher in the house decided to fusion it out a bit and mix the idea of koshari with my mom’s arroz con pollo (one pot chicken and rice dish). My mom would make this growing up, it made the house smell so good, she never had an exact recipe but it always turned out great and was ample enough to serve an army. Since the Egyptian’s used pigeons to stuff with rice, I figured one pot chicken with koshari flavors would be a no fail.
I first made shatta, there are many different recipes, I changed mine up a bit:
• 6 oz can tomato paste
• 1 Cup water
• 6 cloves garlic
• 2 tbsp Sambal (chili paste) you can use fresh chilies as well, but to simplify things and make sure it wasn’t too hot for the kids (some recipes insist on 15 Thai chilies!)
• 1 handful cilantro
• 1 handful parsley
• 1 tsp each salt, pepper, and cumin
Blend. Easy, they use this to put on top, but I just used it to add in the rice mixture.
• 1 chicken, I butterflied mine to get the most crispy skin as I could, salt both sides
• 1 Cup each, lentils, pasta (I used broken angel hair), rice
• ½ onion
• 1 carrot
• 1 rib of celery
• 4 cups chicken stock
• 1 cup of “shatta”
• 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
• 1 lemon
• 2 tbsp canola oil
Method: in a dutch oven, or large pot heat canola oil on high, add chicken, brown both sides, remove chicken, reduce heat to medium high add veggies, pasta, and rice sauté till pasta is golden, add shatta and chicken stock, add lentils (add a bit of water if your mixture seems to thick, maybe ½ a cup), chickpeas, lemon cut in half and juiced, a bit of salt, and your chicken. In a pre-heated 350 degree oven bake uncovered 60 minutes or chicken is crispy and fully roasted. Add a bit of lemon zest, and cilantro to the finished product and imagine the pyramids of Egypt!