The balanced, harmonious flavours of this cuisine combine to tantalize the senses from every angle with rich layers of flavour, playful textures, and brilliant color. Dishes like Bessara
– a creamy fava bean dip, and Knafeh
– a sugary semolina noodle dessert offer up an approachable way to celebrate and connect with the Egyptian Street Food Experience wherever you live.
TRY THESE EGYPTIAN STREET FOOD RECIPES:
Iman Moussa is the owner and operator of Koshary Corner
(Clarksville, MD), a vegan fast-casual concept with a focus on Egypt’s national dish: the Koshary bowl. Koshary Corner was founded with a progressive vision to spread compassion for the planet through plant-based cuisine and better the world one Koshary bowl at a time. Iman shows her unwavering commitment to this mission through Koshary Corner
’s partnerships with local food charities and employment of immigrant and refugee women.
Q&A WITH IMAN
Tell us when and how your passion for food and flavour began.
My passion for food was a gateway between connecting to my Egyptian culture and establishing my cultural roots in a new environment after I moved to America. I started the business itself in 2015 to get out of my comfort zone and overcome my fear of being from a different culture.
What is the concept of your restaurant?
Koshary Corner was created as a culinary experience around koshary bowls that feels culturally authentic but familiar and relatable. All over Egypt, people enjoy koshary bowls in street markets. Since it wasn’t possible to recreate that experience, I wanted to translate it into a concept that worked in America.
Even though I say the koshary bowl is the Egyptian national dish, I discovered it has so many ties to different cultures. For example, cumin and coriander, which we use in our koshary bowls, are also very common in India. The tomato sauce we use has a similar flavour profile to Mexican salsa. The grain bowl is also something Americans are very familiar with and love. Ultimately, I think the koshary bowl relates to different people in different ways, and that emotional connection is why they click with it.
The Flavour Forecast explores how cooking evolves over generations. As a chef/restaurant owner, how do you balance tradition with trends?
Even though I’ve kept the flavours very authentic, I also adapted the concept to expand the experience of Egyptian cuisine where customers can explore the flavours on their own terms. Even though I’m using plant-based alternatives that customers in the US are looking for, I’m still sticking to those original spice blends. You can play with those elements to find the perfect balance.
This year’s food story celebrates the power of women in food and flavour. What does that mean to you?
This is very near and dear to my heart because my signature tomato sauce is my mom's recipe, and she's the strongest woman I know. She raised me the way I am, and what I love about myself are also the best qualities in her.
What is your biggest piece of advice for those who have ambitions of entering the restaurant business?
Work in the restaurant business first. If I were a little younger, I would have definitely gained experience at another restaurant. Knowing how to cook and loving food is one thing. Running a food business is a whole different story.
Another piece of advice: you have to be a people person. Food is an act of giving, how can you get it if you don't genuinely love the hospitality? You have to be able to connect with people, because people don't only taste the flavours in a dish. They also taste the passion.