MARCUS POP FOOD: Egypt

By Marcus Samuelsson

It's been incredible to watch history in the making, seeing new images, hearing the latest news coming out of Egypt every day.

In spite of the turbulence that has come along with the recent revolutions in North Africa, it's been encouraging to watch the people combine efforts and stand up for what they believe in.

When I think of Egypt, I think mostly of the country's legacy in food. The cuisine so seamlessly merges Mediterranean, Arab and African flavors. The simplicity always amazes me.

One of my favorite dishes from the region is ful, a simple plate of stewed fava beans that can be eaten as a snack when served with some toasted pita or as a flavorful accompaniment to some grilled chicken or fish (I've shared my version of the recipe below).

And I love the markets...by far the most exciting part of my visits there! The spices, dried apricots, figs and dates, they're all healthy, delicious snacks and/or flavor enhancers.

Egypt's food history is so ancient. Most people don't realize it but foie gras hails from the time and land of the pharaohs, as does beer.

Times are so clearly changing, especially in the online platform. I was amazed to learn about the government shutting down the internet, because it was such clear evidence of how powerful the web has become in recent years, especially social media.

As a chef, I use Facebook and Twitter to share my thoughts, give updates on my projects and connect through food. It's such a vibrant tool and it's expanding exponentially every day.

Lentil Stew Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 cup red lentils, rinsed well and drained 3 tablespoons of olive oil 1 medium red onion, minced 2 garlic cloves, minced 3 tomatoes, chopped 1/2 cup of canned fava beans Juice of 2 lemons 3 teaspoons berbere or chili powder 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley 1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Combine lentils with 3 cups of water in a large saucepan. Bring lentils to a boil in 3 cups of water, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until tender.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the tomatoes, lentils, fava beans, lemon juice, berbere, parsley, and salt and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the flavors have blended. The stew thickens up as it cooks.