After taking a month off last month, we are back with a bang with the MENA Cooking Club challenge! This month, we are cooking from Egypt.
Egypt needs no introduction. The land of the Nile and the Pharoahs, that’s how everybody knows it to be. It is a country that everybody would want to visit at least once in their lifetime, and that includes myself as well. For this month’s challenge, we were given three options: Macarona bin Bechamel – a macaroni dish, with beef and with bechamel sauce; Touly – also called the Egyptian ratatouille and Fateer, which is a delicious layered Egyptian bread.
Fateer is something that we buy from Union Co-op at times and eat it just like that. The bread is really greasy but you can’t stop it at one bite. I wanted to try it but looking at the amount of butter/ghee to be used to make the bread made me loose my interest.The Touly also sounded like an interesting dish, but I was not sure how I would make the folks eat it, even though it had meat in it as well. Then the only option that remained was the macaroni, which I knew would be accepted at home. So the macaroni dish, it is…
A dish with pasta, beef and bechamel sauce would not be really Egyptian in its sense of belonging, but the dish is said to be the perfect epitome of how Egyptians took foreign influences in their stride and adapted to make it theirs. While browsing for the recipe, I found this link which wrote in details how this basically Italian-Greek dish became a favorite to Egyptians. After browsing through the many options Google threw on me, I decided to stick to Chef Osama’s version as base and made my changes to it, as I felt the proportions were just enough for our family. My calculation was not wrong at all. 🙂
Apart from the multiple dishes to wash, this meal is a breeze to make. Boil the macaroni on one side, saute the beef on the other side, make the bechamel on the next, preheat the oven, dump all together and by the time it bakes, you will finish washing your dishes and be ready to have your meal! 😀 I am really sorry for the pathetic clicks. It was dinner time, we were hungry and I was also impatient. I have mentioned earlier, I am really not fond of clicking when my parents are around and try my maximum to be off it. But I couldn’t ignore this challenge, so almost made it up. 😀 Off to the recipe…
- 500 gm pack pasta
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium onions, minced
- 500 gm beef mince
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 100 gm mozarella cheese, or as required
- Dried parsley, as required
- FOR BECHAMEL:
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp flour
- 2 cups milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg, beaten
- Cook the pasta in lots of water till done, Drain, wash well and set aside.
- Heat oil in a saucpan and saute onions till witled.
- Add in the beef, cayenne, salt and pepper and cook for five minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and cook till the beef is done and the mixture is dry.
- Heat another saucepan and melt the butter.
- Roast the flour in it till it is a light shade.
- Add in the milk and continuously whisk till it becomes a homogenous and thick mixture.
- Season with salt and pepper. Switch off.
- Once the mixture is slightly cool, add in the beaten egg and whisk it in well, ensuring that the egg doesn't scramble.
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
- Divide the bechamel sauce into equal quantities. Toss up the cooked pasta into one half.
- Add three tbsp of the beef mixture into the other half and mix well.
- Layer a large glass pan with half the pasta. Then spread the beef mixture on top. Sprinkle some mozarella cheese.
- Spread on the top the remaining pasta. Pour over the other half bechamel sauce. Sprinkle more cheese as required and sprinkle some dried parsley.
- Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, till the cheese is melted.
- Serve hot!
2. You can use chicken mince instead of beef.
3. I baked only till the cheese melted, since my family is not fond of macaroni being too dry. You should be able to cut the macaroni, so bake for around 45 minutes.