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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Koshary El Tahrir: One of Cairo's Biggest Koshary Chains Opens in Maadi
In Egypt, the name Tahrir is synonymous with two things; the revolution and the best known koshary restaurant in Cairo. Right in the centre of the bustling El Nasr Street in Maadi, a new and extremely well-furnished branch of Koshary El Tahrir has opened. This new branch opened in the last days of Ramadan, and since then El Nasr Street has become even more crowded and congested because of people dining at its latest addition.
The Maadi restaurant itself is nothing like the koshary chain’s other modest branches; the restaurant consists of two floors with tens of tables and chairs that are very well-organized and comfortable. A sleekly designed banner and spotlights dispersed throughout the venue give the restaurant a modern and funky image that isn’t normally associated with a koshary restaurant.
The staff at Koshary Tahrir is very helpful and friendly, and the service is quite fast and efficient. The koshary itself is delicious especially after using their amazing da’a (lemon, vinegar and garlic dressing)and salsa (tomato sauce). Spicy food lovers beware; their shatta (spicy chilli sauce) is very strong.
The prices at Koshary El Tahrir are not that different from other leading koshary restaurants: the small size costs 3.50LE, medium size costs 5.50LE, the large size is for 7LE while the king size sells for 8LE, and the mega size (enough for three people) sells for 20LE. This reviewer found the king size portion more than enough for a hungry stomach. Additionally, extra tomato sauce, humus or lentils cost 1LE, and after such a heavy meal, you might want to try their delicious rice pudding or mahalabeya for 3LE to cool down.
As with all good koshary joints, the restaurant caters as quickly to those wanting to take-out as they do to those wanting to dine in, and have a swuft and efficient delivery service.
Soft drinks are available at Koshary El Tahrir, including a large cup of Pepsi for 4.50LE, and a small size for 3.50LE.
Even though legend always speaks of the great koshary of Downtown Cairo, Koshary El Tahrir’s latest branch in Maadi more than holds its own. Yes, it is uncharacteristically sleek and modern, but that hasn’t taken away anything from the authenticity of this staple Egyptian dish.
Since opening its first branch in Sheikh Zayed’s Arkan Mall, Baladina has come to foster a reputation for serving truly authentic Egyptian dishes – a reputation that is made all the more impressive when you consider the number of restaurants in Cairo that claim likewise.
The restaurant’s success has led to the opening of additional branches, including one in Maadi’s the Platform, with the most recent finding a home in Beverly Hill’s Westown Hub. The new branch replicates the restaurant’s rural Egyptian aesthetic to a tee; the waiters donning traditional galabeyas is the most striking of the eatery’s trademarks. As a venue, Baladina offers both indoor and outdoor seating as per all of the venues in Westown Hub and as soon as we were seated, we received two menus – one for food and the other for drinks, with the latter offering everything from teas and coffees, to juices, smoothies and even traditional Oriental drinks such as hibiscus, tamarind, et al.
As for the food menu, the set-up is as you’d expect – hot and cold appetisers, salads and soups are available, though the grill and tajin sections are where things get interesting – but let’s rewind.
To begin our meal, we ordered a basic vegetable soup (20LE) – we visited on a particularly chilly day – and rokak with meat (45LE). The soup was, by all intents and purposes, fine; there was nothing to be offended by, but there was absolutely nothing that would pull us to order it again – it was just a very simple, homely soup, though the portion was pleasingly large. The same can be said of the portion size of the rokak; the difference, however, was that we couldn’t enough of it. To those unfamiliar with rokak, it’s essentially a pastry, usually stuffed with minced meat and baked. Said minced meat was seasoned perfectly; it was full of flavour, though if there was one criticism – and it’s a strange one – it’s that there was too much meat and the whole thing was a bit messy to eat, subsequently.
Moving onto the mains, we ordered Circassian chicken (72LE) and a moussaka tajin (35LE), which comes with a side of rice. The former is a dish that uses walnut sauce was nothing short of delicious; the walnut sauce itself was rich and flavourful, while the strips of chicken were cooked to a perfect tenderness. We had few complaints about the mossaka, too; filled with slices of aubergine, onion and pepper, there was a enticing sweetness to the dish as a whole and, even though the onion and pepper outnumbered the aubergine, it was great when mixed with the rice.
Of the desserts, we went for a classic: Om Ali (30LE). The combination of puff pastry, milk and nuts was perfect, with the crunch of the nuts against the softened pastry adding a great textural contrast and it wasn’t blindingly sweet as can be the case among Cairo restaurants.
Washing our meal down with a glass of doum juice (20LE) – made of ginger palm root – we were full, satisfied and actually welcoming that feeling of being anchored down by your food, unable to move in any real way. Baladina’s new branch proved to be as authentic as its others and it should do well in a place like Westown Hub .