Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Koshari Mama: Egyptian Street Food

"The Hindi word khicri or khicra is assumed to descend from the Sanskrit krsara...which meant a mixture of rice and peas. This idea of mixing lentils (or peas) has spread during this century to the Near East as well, where rice and lentil koshari is now a popular cheap meal in Egypt."
--Los Angeles Times, April 27, 1995

Last Thursday, I planned to visit the Stoneham Farmers Market so I checked their website to see if anything special was scheduled that day. I saw a new vendor, Koshari Mama, and once I checked out their website, I was intrigued, hoping to taste some of their food.  

Koshari Mama was founded by a mother/daughter team, Sahar Ahmed and Dina Fahim. Dina graduated from Boston University’s Culinary Program, and worked at a number of local restaurants, before deciding to go out on her own. She wanted to embrace her Egyptian heritage, and her mother was a natural partner for her new endeavor. Based in Lowell, they currently sell their products at a number of farmers markets, including Stoneham, Melrose, North Andover, Davis Square, and you can see their schedule on their website.

One of the main foods they produce is Koshari, an Egyptian street food. It is a hearty vegetarian/vegan dish composed of rice, lentils, pasta, and chickpeas, topped with a spicy tomato sauce and fried onions. Koshari is available as a Mini (8 oz) $3.00, Small (12 oz) $5.00, Large (16 oz) $8.00, and Egyptian Size (24 oz) $12.00. The dish is prepared in front of you and you can choose how hot of a sauce you want.

Though many sources state Koshari was created in the 19th century, its roots extend back at least several hundred, if not more, years before that time. It has become an inexpensive and very popular street food in Egypt. After tasting this Koshari, I can understand the appeal. It presents a delicious blend of flavors and textures, from the softer macaroni to the crunchy fried onions pieces. It had a certain nuttiness to it, as well as a nice spicy flavor from the sauce. I tried the Mini, just to get a taste of it first, and my only issue is that the cup was so full, it was tough to mix up all the ingredients without spilling them over the side.

I want more, and will be sure to get some the next time they come to the Stoneham Farmers Market, unless I see them at a different Farmers Market. I highly recommend you check out Koshari Mama! I'll also note that they sell a few other items too, such as their homemade Hummus, which was also quite tasty, with a strong garlic aspect and a hint of lemon.

"Kosheri (also spelled kosheree, kochary, kushari, and kochari) is the only menu item sold in some specialty restaurants in Egypt. There is a saying about this nourishing rice, wheat and bean dish: You can have anything you want to eat, as long as it's kosheri."
--The Record (NJ), November 24, 2004

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