I recently saw Janet's yummy-looking post on taste space about a kitchari that riffs off the original ayurvedic dish, but adds both an eastern European spin (with dill, cabbage, and carrots) and a neo-western-foodie/macro element (ginger, soy sauce, miso, quinoa--and yes, I know quinoa is actually really ancient, South American, etc...).
It got me thinking again (as I posted about once before), about how kitchari/khichri became kedgeree (Anglo-Indian) and kushari/koshary (Egyptian)... did the British bring the dish (and its name) to Egypt, or does the cross-pollination here precede the British completely, as Clifford Wright suggests?
And then I wondered some more... where does it end? Maybe a dish that combines a legume and a grain is one of the most basic dishes ever, anywhere. Even wikipedia is like, "...consider also Mujaddara, Hoppin' John, and Gallo Pinto... and... and..." I'm both cautious of and excited by the politics of a universal food culture. In any case, it often seems that by swapping out one component for an equivalent (vinegar for citrus, pomegranate molasses for tamarind paste, mung beans or lentils for pinto beans, bulgur or quinoa for rice), you might be able to play a kind of culinary word golf across the entire world. Which in turn means, you can have congruent dishes all over the place that actually share no ingredients! a la Theseus's ship.
In other news, my brother Colin is back in Cairo and loving it. And eating a lot of kushari. Interestingly, "Colin" appears to mean "young creature" in Gaelic while the Arabic name he goes by in Egypt--"Khalid"--means "immortal."