One of the lunchtime staples here in Egypt, or at least in Cairo, is koshari. It’s a giant carb overload, but it’s really cheap, so it’s quite popular, probably for both reasons. You start with a bed of tiny cylinder noodles, top it with some rice, and pile some lentils, chick peas, and fried garlic on top. Most places give you a seperate dish of tomato sauce to add yourself, but some will put that on for you as well. At every table, you get containers of hot pepper oil and garlic vinegar to add as you desire. While not high in vegetable content – garlic’s a vegetable, right? – it’s satisfying and one of the cheapest things you can eat in a restaurant.
Koshari places are always busy at lunch wherever they are, and are easily identifiable by the big silver vats full of the various ingredients near the front door. We’ve actually walked down streets just looking for this tell-tale sign of a cheap place to eat. It’d be hard to make for yourself due to all the prep, which is too bad, as I could see this being a really satisfying lunch sometimes.