Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wasted a Whole Day

& I do mean "Wasted". Not drunk "wasted" not lazing around "Wasted" But an Absolute Waste of an Entire Day !

Had to go to the passport office in the morning to get our visas extended. Since Marico has not yet been formed in Egypt, husband cant get an e-visa (employment visa) so we are on tourist/business visas, (kinda like the american B1/B2) which we need to get extended.

so off we went with this consultant in the morning to the passport office which turned out to be more crowded than the one in Bombay India. 45 different counters in a straight line, with barely enough place for 6 people to stand in each line before the line hit the wall & most counters except the Palestinian one had over 10 people per line. So it was quite chaotic.

It was also interesting to see people from different countries speking different languages all g]focused on a single goal "getting the attention of the person across the counter" Kinda like a plebian UN session :)

But given the pressing crowds & the pressing matter of our own visa, I couldnt dawdle & "people watch"

Unfortunately inspite of husbands effort of dressing in blazer & stuff, passport officer asked us to get another letter on a letterhead & appear again the day after tomorrow (baad bukra : bukra is tomorrow & baad bukra means day after tomorrow)

Another guy from the company & his family got their extensions done in ten minutes just yesterday with the same papers that we carried ourselves. My guess : the "consultant" who accompanied us as translator did not have a clue & was quite confused. Guess we drew the short straw on this one.

After that we saw another 15 houses on our house hunt. But all were a complete WAFWOT (David Dcosta to be credited for this term. ask him for the exact translation - basic translation : complete waste of time) We had told all estate agents that we were almost certain to be closing a house tomorrow, so all of them wanted "one last chance sir" We hoped the pressure would bring out the best houses with the lowest prices to snatch the deal. Unfortunately none of the houses they showed us today could compare to the one that we have almost finalised so the entire exercise was a complete WAFWOT.

Only silver lining today was I embarked on another food adventure. Walked up to a place called Abou Yoosef. Their menu was in Arabic. Everyone there only spoke arabic. I pointed to 2 items on the menu & patiently awaited opening my mystery suprise package. One turned out to be a chicken fillet sandwich roll. The other was some local dish.

Now the problem is I have no clue about the name. I do not remember which item I pointed to, so its going to take some time to figure out what we ate.

But let me try & give u a description. (no picture : we were too ravenous after the house hunt that we did not bother with wasting time on taking pictures) the dish is a mix of 4 types of pasta
1. a very short tubular pasta 2mm length
2. a circular spoke pasta 2mm diameter
3. short spaghetti
4. vermicilli
and some arborio rice. All boiled seperately with just salt & then mixed in almost equal quantities. The dish is then topped with some boiled whole masoor dhal & deep fried browned onions. & a sprinkling of chickpeas (chole)
A tomato based gravy was served on the side to be mixed into the dish. I was wearing a salwar kameez & bindi, so he realisd i was indian. pointed to my bindi & handed me a second packet which turned out to be a spicy chilli mix which we added to the tomato gravy before pouring it into the carbs.

The dish was really yummy & I doubt my description has done it justice. Also its a wonderful vegetarian option for veggies who come to this country & are forced to live on French fries. Next mission is to somehow describe this to a local who can tell me its name.


Cairogal said...

Koshari (kosharee, koshary, you get the picture). This is Egypt's national dish, in my opinion. You might notice restaurants dedicated strictly to this dish. Dirt cheap (around 3-5 LE for a massive bowl) and sticks to the bones!

Kim said...

Thanks Cairo Gal

Will try n upload some pics of this dish later, since it loks like i will be eating this a lot :)

So thats what the "Koshary" in the name of many restaurants means :)

Maryanne said...

One of the best koshari places is in old Cairo and Arzak in Maadi Grand Mall make a good version as well. Easy to do at home as well.

Cairogal said...

It's true, Maryanne! We went to Arzak often. But then you meet someone from Nasr City, and they know the best place, and someone from Heliopolis knows an even better place...

We make this at home when my husband is homesick. He's got a knack for the tomato sauce that no recipes reveal. Vinegar is our secret ingredient!

Kim said...

Hey Maryanne & Cairogal, Thanks for the tips on where to try koshary. & also for the tip on the vinegar.

Any idea on what is a good cookbook in "English" for Egyptian food ?

Since those are the ingredients most easily available, it would make sense to cook more local food.

I'm moving into our own place in the next 2 hours. I'm so excited & hope to have more time to blog after that :)


Anonymous said...

looks like you are getting along in Cairo..i guess soon you will be humming - "cook like an Egyptian" - Anshuman Mohapatra

Anonymous said...

most of the recipes I've used have come from online, Kim. THey always require a bit of tweaking, too.

One blogger shared this link:

And I've made lots of stuff off this site:
The basboosa dessert is super easy to make, and cheap, too. It's not all strictly Egyptian, but some of it is. I use the Koshari recipe, and then we play around w/ the sauce adding hot pepper, vinegar, garlic powder, and such, and cooking it until it reaches a thicker consistency. It's truly trial and error.

I think there's a recipe in there for foul medammes, too, which is easy and cheap to make (you can make it healthier). Another Egyptian classic!

Kim said...

Thanks Cairogal. Both the links were very useful. I finally found a recipe for Mahamara which I had eaten somewhere & really loved.

Thanks so much

balihai said...

loved reading thru your cairo experience. i spent a month around there some time back and could relate to what you said. kosharry was something that surprised me bout their diet. they used a lot of red-beans(kidney beans?) in the veg. food. much like the north indian rajma.
liked the article on supermarkets and niqab. the christian cairo made good reading as well.

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