I had a bit of an Ottolenghi blitz the other weekend – the roasted vegetables with saffron yoghurt dressing you already know about, and I served this alongside their rack of lamb with coriander and honey plus kosheri and Moro’s wonderful fennel flatbreads.
It’s the kosheri I wanted to share with you today. This is a really interesting and complex dish – the heart of it is a mix of rice, lentils and noodles. A bit odd but it really works. In the Ottolenghi recipe it is served with a spicy tomato sauce, which was wonderful, but I’ve also been using the rice/lentil/noodle base on its own to make pilaf style dishes – most recently with the addition of leftover roast lamb, pomegranate seeds and herbs stirred through.
ottolenghi’s kosheri (serves 4-6)
300g green lentils (i’ve been using puy lentils as that’s all i’ve had in and have reduced the quantity to 200g so it is a more balanced dish)
200g basmati rice
40g unsalted butter
50g vermicelli noodles, broken into 4cm pieces (i use dried egg noodles)
400ml chicken stock or water
½ a teaspoon of grated nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons of salt
½ a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 white onions, halved and thinly sliced
for the sauce:
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 hot red chillies, seeded and finely diced
8 ripe tomatoes, chopped (tinned are fine – this is what i used)
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
20g coriander leaves, chopped
start with the sauce. heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the garlic and chillies and fry for 2 minutes. add the chopped tomatoes, water, vinegar, salt and cumin. bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 min, until slightly thickened. remove the sauce from the heat, stir in the coriander and then taste. see if you want to add any salt, pepper or extra coriander. keep hot, or leave to cool; both ways will work with the hot kosheri. just remember to adjust the seasoning again when cold.
to make the kosheri, place the lentils in a large sieve and wash them under a cold running tap. transfer to a large saucepan, cover with plenty of cold water and bring to the boil. reduce the heat and simmer for 25 min. the lentils should be tender, but far from mushy. drain in a colander and leave to one side.
in a large bowl, cover the rice with cold water, wash and then drain well. melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. add the raw vermicelli, stir and continue frying and stirring until the vermicelli turns golden brown. add the drained rice and mix well until it is coated in the butter. now add the stock or water, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper bring to the boil, cover and then reduce the heat to a minimum and simmer for 12 min. turn off the heat, remove the lid, cover the pan with a clean tea towel and put the lid back on. leave like that for about 5 min; this helps to make the rice light and fluffy.
heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and sauté over a medium heat for about 20 min, until dark brown. transfer to kitchen paper to drain.
to serve, lightly break up the rice with a fork, and then add the lentils, and most of the onions, reserving a few for garnish. taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. pile the rice high on a serving platter and top with the remaining onions. serve hot, with the tomato sauce.