recipe for “hardcore” lent–koshari

DSCF2095I was watching No Reservations a few weeks back. It was the episode where Bourdain visited Egypt. There were several dishes on that episode that meet the requirements of "my “hardcore” Lent. One of these was a dish called Fül—it consists of mashed up fava beans and several other ingredients. I will post the recipe for it when I get it worked out.

The second dish was a dish called koshari. I based my recipe off of a recipe I found online. I made a few modifications, but kept it mostly the same.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 3/4 cup uncooked rice (white)
  • 3/4 cup brown lentils
  • 1 cup shell macaroni (elbow macaroni works too)
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas (at least) dried work too, if you feel like cooking them
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Sambal Oelek
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • vegetable oil
  • water (at last 4 cups)

The first day

I cooked the chickpeas the day before everything else. I bought them dry, because dried chickpeas are cheaper. Cooking them is simple. I soaked them in lots of while I was at work and running errands for a total of about 12 hours. I then drained the water. I then simmered the chickpeas in plenty of new and salted water for a little over two hours. When they were finished, I drained them and put them in the fridge.

Cooking the koshari (the second day)

In a saucepan, put the lentils in plenty of water and bring it to a boil. (Make sure it is salted.) Once the water starts boiling, drop the heat to medium-low and simmer the lentils for 25 minutes. Drain the lentils after they’re done cooking.

Add the lentils back to the saucepan, add at least four cups of water and the rice (and a little salt). Bring the water to a boil, drop the heat and simmer again. This time, simmer the rice and lentils for 20 minutes.

At this point, cook the macaroni according to the package directions. You will want to cook it until tender, not al dente.

In a skillet (or a saucepan), heat about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil until it shimmers. Add the garlic to the oil. After a minute or so, add the tomatoes, cumin, sambal and vinegar to the pan. Bring the sauce to a boil. Once it boils, drop the heat and simmer the sauce until everything is ready. Make sure to crush the tomatoes well when stirring the sauce occasionally.

In yet another skillet, heat some more oil. (You’ll want maybe 3 or 4 tbsp this time.) Once it’s ready, add the sliced onions and brown them. Once they are brown add some water and continue cooking the onions. You’ll want to repeat this a few times until the onions are caramelized.

At this point, you should have five separate dishes. These are traditionally layered in the following order: rice/lentil mix, macaroni, spicy tomato sauce, chickpeas and finally onions.

Enjoy!

“hardcore” Lent

I decided that I wanted to take Lent seriously this year and do something that I would notice and might do me some good. A good friend of mine said that last year he did the Orthodox Lenten fast. He told me a little about it, so I decided I should investigate it a little bit.

It basically boils down: no meat, no fish with backbones (shellfish and squid is ok), no olive oil, no dairy/eggs and no wine/hard liquor. According to one source, this actually includes all oils and all alcohols! So, I did some more research on the topic, and I found that before the 20th century, the Catholic Lenten fast was much closer to the current Orthodox Lenten fast. It essentially bars eating meat and dairy products. Both traditions (the current Orthodox and former Catholic) make exceptions for the ill, pregnant, young, etc.

So I decided I would use older Orthodox food restrictions (i.e. beer and non-olive oil are acceptable) with the common fasting tradition. The Orthodox Lenten tradition also calls for totals fasts on several days, but recognizes that it is very difficult for most working people to complete these. The Orthodox tradition also does not completely relax their restrictions on Sundays and Holy Days during Lent, which I think is partially due to the different method of counting the days of Lent used by the Orthodox churches.

So, my Lenten sacrifice, which I like to call “hardcore” Lent (because it sounds cool) and many people I know like to call “you’re crazy” Lent boils down to the following:

  • No meat
  • No fish (excepting shellfish)
  • No olive-oil
  • No dairy or eggs
  • No alcohol (excepting beer)
  • No eating between meals
  • One full meal a day and two smaller meals that do not add up to the larger.

So far, it’s been rough for me. I haven’t quite gotten my meal sizes figured out yet, but I’m carefully monitoring and adjusting them. I’ve also cut down my workouts a bit due to the decrease in calorie intake. My current workout schedule is:

  • Monday: run 2 miles
  • Tuesday: Leg weights
  • Wednesday: Arm weights
  • Thursday: Leg weights
  • Friday: Arm weights / run .5 miles

So far I’ve already lost more weight than normal with this Lenten diet. I also look forward to Sundays and obligatory feast days a lot more than I used to. (The two feast days during Lent that we are taking off are St. Joseph’s feast day on March 18 and the Annunciation on March 25.)

new gym routine

I’ve explained my workout before, but the amount of time that it takes has always bothered me. I don’t really like spending more than an hour at the gym. My weights days were taking around 1:15 to 1:30 every time, while my cardio days only took about 45 minutes. I came up with a plan to even the days out a little more, which I’ve been following for the last two weeks. Continue reading “new gym routine”

planting more things

Basil PlantsBasil CloseupLast year, I attempted to grow a basil plant and a dill plant. The dill plant did not fare so well, and most of the basil plants died, but two of them stuck around. My new apartment has a lot more natural sunlight exposure than the old one, so the basil is doing better even with the reduced light in winter than before, when the best I could provide was grow lamp. Continue reading “planting more things”

go to the gym? me?

Something that I wanted to do as part of my lifestyle change was to get in better shape. I was, and still am, convinced that exercise alone won’t fix your weight problems. You also have to change what you eat to lose weight. That being said, I do think that exercise is helpful. For me, exercise relieves stress and just makes me feel better in general. Continue reading “go to the gym? me?”

a new diet

The coolest thing right now is that after losing almost fifty pounds, people are noticing my weight loss and they are commenting on it. That feels good, and makes me realize that I am changing my life for the better. Sometimes, people ask me what I am doing to lose all the weight. I tell them that it’s pretty simple: I eat less and exercise. Essentially, that is what I’m doing, but it is a bit of a high overview. To be honest, I don’t have a traditional diet in mind when I decided to lose weight. I’ve read about lots of diets and they all seem to either fail after a while or cause health problems. I didn’t want this to happen to me, so I came up with my plan. Continue reading “a new diet”

tracking my progress

I’m an engineer. I went to Electrical Engineering school, and they gave me a piece of paper that says I can call myself an engineer. I even took a really annoying test (the Fundamentals of Engineering) so I can call myself an Engineer-in-Training. Because of this background, I like to collect data on things. After coming up with an idea on how to accomplish my weight loss goal, I figured that the only way to ensure I was making progress was to make a record of my progress. Continue reading “tracking my progress”

the plan

I kicked off my diet in late July by cutting out soda and cutting down on alcohol intake, but I knew that this probably wouldn’t be enough. I had to come up with some semblance of a plan to lose 170lbs. In fact, at this point, I didn’t even have a goal other than ‘weigh less’. All I really knew was that I weighed too much and I needed that to change. Continue reading “the plan”

Turkey and Rice Stew

I had some leftover turkey in my refridgerator and a bunch of veggies I needed to cook, so I decided to make a stew. I’ve formatted this recipe a little different. Enjoy!

Step 1: Gather the ingredients.

They include: Carrots, Scallions (Green Onions), Turkey, 2 cans of Low Sodium Chicken Broth, Chinese Five Spice, Ground Ginger, Thyme, Rosemary, Celery Seed, Salt, Minced Garlic, Pepper, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Cornstarch and Rice.

Continue reading “Turkey and Rice Stew”