Saturday, April 26, 2014

Photo Essay: Cooking Koshary, The Egyptian Tradition

Author: Alaa Adel Elsayed

     Koshary is one of the dishes that is invented entirely by Egyptians. Its history of invention is what makes it unique. Egyptians are said to collect all the remaining uncooked food ingredients at the end of every month and cook them all together. This historical story, in my opinion, has an economic value as well as a cultural and traditional value. Economically, the story highlights a way through which middle-class households sustain their living during the last days of every month when their monthly salary is over as the case with almost all working classes. It also served as an investment in what they have remaining instead of throwing it away in the trash.  The story of inventing koshary has also a strong cultural meaning as it shows how working-class Egyptians tended to handle their living when they are almost out of money at the end of each month. Additionally, it highlights some of the differences between social classes in Egypt. It would not be surprising for upper-class people to throw these ingredients away and not to care much about their possible uses. But the perceptions that the working classes have for things are always different, which is shown through the Egyptians’ investment that yielded in a new Egyptian dish.
     Although koshary was originally invented by middle-class Egyptians, it has gained huge popularity and become one of the favorite dishes for all Egyptians. In specific, it is one of my family’s favorites. It is a family tradition that my mother cooks koshary for special events, such as Eid al-Fatr and Sham El-Nassem (the spring day). Although it is common for Egyptians to eat a certain type of fish during this last feast, my family eats koshary, the tradition that has become a traditional celebration of Sham El-Nassem. Accordingly, this year my mother has decided to cook koshary for us as part of our celebration of this day.
    Furthermore, the process of cooking koshary is interesting to examine. It is one of the dishes that has many components used to decorate the final dish. Not only that, these decorative components are also to be cooked first as the cooking process starts before cooking the main ingredient which is rice.

    The presented slideshow shall illustrate more closely the process of cooking koshary for lunch for my family in celebration of Sham El-Nassem.

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