Koshary El Tahrir

I'd never heard great things about the food in Cairo. So my expectations weren't high when I arrived at Koshary El Tahrir, a bustling restaurant off Tahrir Square in the city that specializes in the vegetarian dish called koshary. At first glance, koshary doesn't look like much. Served in a plastic or metal bowl, the food is many shades of brown: a mixture of toasted pasta, rice, lentils, chickpeas, and fried onions — perhaps a staff meal creation of some hippie distance runner just enrolled at the Natural Gourmet cooking school. But pour on a little of the garlic-vinegar and tomato-pepper sauces that sit on every table, and you've got some seriously delicious comfort food. Complex, earthy flavors from the legumes mingle with toasty, nutty pasta and the rich, caramelized swetness from the onions, all offset by the zingy sauces. Some postulate that koshary was created by the Coptic Christians during Lent, or that it was born of poverty; either way, it is deeply satisfying, even to an omnivore like me. —Anita Lo, Annisa, New York City

Koshary El Tahrir
12 Youssef El Gendy St.
Bab El Louk, Cairo
tel: 02 279 58418

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