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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.
When it comes to dining in Cairo, Zamalek is the go to hub of restaurants. With so many of the newer restaurants aiming to bring something new to the market, good local cuisine is becoming harder to find. However, unswayed by the contemporary shift, the long-standing El Dessouki continues to serve Egyptian food as it has done for the past 70years.
Tucked away in a quiet alleyway behind Sufi, the outdoor seating area is strangely cosy, with basic plastic chairs and table-clothed tables.
Shortly after being seated, we were approached by a waiter with a profuse sense of typical Egyptian humour. When asked for a menu, he jokingly insisted that he was so well versed in the restaurants dishes that there was no need. He then proceeded to list everything they offer in quick succession.
Traditional Egyptian dishes are available including rice akawy with kidneys, molokheya (7LE), torley (7LE) – a vegetable mix with salsa – pan fried chicken (48LE), beef (30LE), black eyed peas (7LE), pasta béchamel (7LE), spaghetti (6LE), penne (5LE) and mooza (30LE) – tender, fatty thigh meat – amongst many more choices. Balady salad, baba ghnaoug and tehina are also on offer (2LE each).
We ordered one dish of rice, black-eyed beans, salad and dips along with pasta béchamel, half a pan fried chicken (24LE) and a plate of kabab hala (30LE), or pan cooked meat. Everything is pre-prepared and in no time we were enjoying Egyptian cuisine at its best. The pasta béchamel was a generous portion of penne pasta, prepared with a thick layer of cream and topped with flavourful salsa. The rice and black-eyed peas were a delicious combination, especially with the thick salsa sauce covering the beans. The salads were delectable, fresh and crunchy; the balady salad consisted of tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and, much to our delight, plenty of onions. While the tehina was smooth and topped with a decent shot of vinegar, the baba ghnaough had a strong eggplant flavour and was surprisingly spicy.
Unfortunately, Dessouki don’t offer grilled chicken – strictly fried. None the less, the juicy chicken was served hot, and peeling its crunchy skin made it all the more palatable. Slightly bland in comparison to the chicken, the beef was served in soft chunks, topped with a light gravy. Aside from the salads, everything served here is both greasy and a little too salty.
Grease aside, Dessouki offers a great, no-frills, traditional dining experience at moderately low prices, in arguably the most expensive neighbourhood in the city.