Koshari Street: Egyptian treasure in the heart of London
Egyptian cuisine may not be as internationally recognised or acclaimed as its Levantine and North African neighbours, just think, when was the last time you saw an Egyptian restaurant? But things could be looking up for the culinary heritage of the Arab world's most populous nation.
In a world full of high-protein diets, the time has come to meet one of Egypt's most beloved street foods, a retort to the carb-phobic heath regimen: the king of carbohydrates known as koshari.
Throw together generous portions of rice, macaroni, vermicelli and lentils topped with chickpeas, deep fried onions. Douse all that in tomato sauce, garlic sauce and chilli, you have yourself possibly the most heart-stoppingly starchy national dish.
And now you can have a go at this meal, originally designed to keep labourers content and full of energy, in London at the appropriately named Koshari Street.
The branch we visited was the restaurant's first store, located on central London's busy St Martin's Lane, where we were warmly greeted in true Egyptian fashion by Samir.
|The koshari was 100 percent authentic [TNA]|
The Australian of Egyptian origin quickly served up a large bowl of their "Klassic Koshari" with extra fried onions and a side of baladi salad and I immediately felt like I was back in one of the many hole-in-the-wall fast food joints in the overcrowded streets of Cairo.
The koshari was truly delicious and authentic – minus the metal plates and glass bottles of chilli and garlic sauces on the table – enough to make any Egyptian homesick.
The salad on the other hand, was not the same as back home. Although very fresh, it had too many green onions and not enough dressing, making me wish I hadn't tried to be slightly healthy that day.
Next I tried Egypt's second-most famous street dish, taamia, the country's take on the classic Arab falafel – with fava beans switched in for the usual chickpeas.
The Spicy Taamia Wrap was decent, but again, after having just had my near-perfect koshari bowl it fell short of my high expectations.
The deep-fried balls were not crunchy or bright green on the inside, but then again I have yet to taste any falafel in London that could compare to what you would get from the cheapest, dirtiest vendor anywhere in the Middle East.
For dessert, the rice pudding was a pleasant surprise, not too sweet and topped with sultanas and almonds, it was a great way to end the carb-fest before I fell into the inevitable post-meal coma.
If you want to have a great vegetarian or vegan meal, find out why Egypt is one of the world's most obese countries and enjoy great cuisine not often available – then Koshari Street is definitely worth a visit.
Alcohol served: No
Follow Koshari Street on Twitter: @KoshariStreet