How to Make a Spicy Tomato Sauce for Koushari

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 25,059
    Internationally recognized culinary expert Amy Riolo explains how to make a spicy tomato sauce for a popular Egyptian dish known as Kushari.

    Amy Riolo: Hi! I am Amy Riolo. Today, I am making vegetarian lentils with rice and pasta and a spicy tomato sauce. This is called Kushari in Egyptian and our lentils are boiling. Because they take the longest, so started them first. While they are simmering, I am going to start our spicy tomato sauce.

    Now this is really a classic sauce in Egypt. As you know, Egypt didn't even had tomatoes until about the 17th century, but once they got them, they caught on and they became very popular. Now, this is a very traditional Egyptian street food, kind of, a dish.

    So I am going to add a tablespoon of corn oil. Corn is also a new world crop, that is very, very popular nowadays in Egypt. They raise a lot of corn. If you didn't want to use corn, you could use extra virgin olive oil. I am using an organic expeller-pressed corn oil, which is a higher quality and has been extracted with a cold extraction. So that you can make sure that you are not getting any kind of chemical residue in with your corn oil.

    So I am going to turn my flame on to low. As you can see, the oil is just coating the bottom of the pan. Thats the right temperature that we want so you can actually start to smell it. Now I am going to add one of our onions, the one which have diced. I am going to stir that right in.

    Traditional Egyptian recipes have a lot of onions and garlic. The reason because of this is, in ancient times onions were used as a traditional medicine and they were believed to have wonderful medicinal qualities and actual spiritual qualities. Many of you will believe that onions warded off evil spirits. Of course, as we know today, onions and garlics ward off a lot of illness. So they are great healthy thing to have. As you travel through rural Egypt and in Southern Egypt, you can see a lot of people actually hang garlands full of onions outside of their home. This is why they do that, in order to protect themselves from the evil spirits but there is tons of them in the recipe. So it makes them very, very helpful.

    I am just going to let that saute for a minute. This dish can be found everywhere now on the street. People go to what are called Kushari stands and they buy little bowls of it. What we are going to do is we are going to layer all of these ingredients together. So now our onions is just sauteing, it is releasing its aroma. I am going to turn our flame up to medium because I want this to get a little bit of color. Once our onion starts to color, I am going to add our garlic.

    Now 6 cloves of garlic. As I mentioned, Egyptians use lots of onions and garlics. So dont be afraid by this. I call this a spicy tomato sauce. It is not too hot spicy but it is spicy because we have got spices that we are adding into it. You can see how nice the onion and the garlic are just mixing together. Now I am not going to give a lot of color to the garlic because the garlic tends to become bitter as it gets a lot of color. So I am just going to combine them and let them release their aroma. It just takes about 1 minute.

    So it is time that I can add our tomatoes and here what we have our 2 cups of tomato puree. These are just strained pureed tomatoes which you can get in a can or in a box. I am going to add those right into this and this is the basis for our sauce. A lot of different Egyptian recipes use this, kind of, a tomato sauce. There is a dish called moo-sa-KAH, which is like Moussaka, made with eggplant and layered with minced beef. They also use this, kind of, a sauce in that. Now I am going to add a teaspoon of ground cumin and I will stir that in. I am also going to add cup of chili powder. If you don't want to use chili powder, you can leave that out. It is also traditional to put another, even more concentrated hot sauce on top of the Kushari itself. So they have two separate sauces sometimes and you can do that, if you like. If some people in your house like hot and some don't, just make a mild sauce and then serve more of a very hot sauce on top for the people who want spicy.

    Finally, I am going to add a little bit of salt and pepper. This is just to taste and then make sure that everything comes together. My sauce is already starting to boil very quickly. So I am going to turn it down to a simmer. Here is my crushed dried pepper. I am going to cover the sauce and we will let this simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until it gets reduced by about half.