Egypt

Koshari – Egyptian Lentil and Rice Pasta

December 16, 2016

Koshari, or lentils and rice, is considered a national dish in Egypt. Also containing chickpeas and pasta, this nourishing and nutritious meal is topped with fried onions and a homemade tomato sauce to create a satisfying experience for your taste buds! Vegetarian and vegan!

Koshari, or lentils and rice, is a national Egyptian dish. It also features pasta, chickpeas, fried onions, and a homemade tomato sauce. Healthy, filling, nutritious! #vegetarian #vegan| cookingtheglobe.com

Egyptian food is an often discussed topic among food lovers. Many say it’s not as good as in other Arab countries, such as Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey, others praise Egyptians for delicious ways of using legumes (fava beans, lentils, and others). I don’t feel experienced enough to participate in this discussion (in my opinion, you have to visit the countries in question and taste authentic food to make a proper conclusion) but I loved what I tried so far. For example, falafel. It originated in Egypt and it’s fantastic!

Today I made a dish considered as national in this African country. It’s a mixture of lentils, rice, pasta, and chickpeas called Koshari, or Koshary, or Kushari. All this goodness is topped with crispy fried onions and a flavorful tomato sauce! This dish is popular both in households where housewives prepare it at least once a week and on Egypt’s streets where vendors sell it straight from their carts or it is served in cafes and restaurants. Such a popularity is understandable: Koshari is cheap and really filling. Lentils are called “poor man’s meat” for a reason. What else do simple workers, among whom this dish is a hit, can possibly want?

Koshari, or lentils and rice, is a national Egyptian dish. It also features pasta, chickpeas, fried onions, and a homemade tomato sauce. Healthy, filling, nutritious! #vegetarian #vegan| cookingtheglobe.com

A Koshari selling cart in the capital of Egypt, Cairo. Photo by Thibaud Smerko.

It is believed, even though there is not too much evidence, that Koshari originated from an Indian dish Kitchari which consisted of rice and lentils. English colonials brought it to Egypt in the late nineteenth century. The Egyptians adapted it to their tastes and that’s how the dish we see today was born. It’s funny but when I tasted these Egyptian lentils and rice I immediately thought about the Indian Chicken Biryani I made some time ago. I guess it’s the fried onions that triggered my memories.

Koshari, or lentils and rice, is a national Egyptian dish. It also features pasta, chickpeas, fried onions, and a homemade tomato sauce. Healthy, filling, nutritious! #vegetarian #vegan| cookingtheglobe.com

While you will hardly find Koshari outside the Egypt, the dish is already taking its first steps in other countries. For example, a takeout and cafe dedicated to Egyptian lentils and rice called “Koshari Street” opened in London a few years ago. So awesome! I really hope that it will spread to other countries too.

Koshari, or lentils and rice, is a national Egyptian dish. It also features pasta, chickpeas, fried onions, and a homemade tomato sauce. Healthy, filling, nutritious! #vegetarian #vegan| cookingtheglobe.com

Koshari is also loved by vegetarians all around the world because it’s a perfect meatless nutritious dish. Chickpeas and lentils are packed with protein while rice and pasta with complex carbs. We need more of such healthy takeout instead of junk food big cities are full of right now!

Koshari, or lentils and rice, is a national Egyptian dish. It also features pasta, chickpeas, fried onions, and a homemade tomato sauce. Healthy, filling, nutritious! #vegetarian #vegan| cookingtheglobe.com

Traditionally, Koshari is prepared by cooking lentils, rice, and pasta separately and layering them only in a serving dish. However, today, many cooks shorten the process by cooking everything together and mixing in a bowl. So did I. This Egyptian creation can be served as a meatless main dish or as a side dish to a piece of meat. Try it guys and let me know how you liked it in a comments section below! Koshari, or lentils and rice, is a national Egyptian dish. It also features pasta, chickpeas, fried onions, and a homemade tomato sauce. Healthy, filling, nutritious! #vegetarian #vegan| cookingtheglobe.com

5 from 1 vote
Koshari, or lentils and rice, is a national Egyptian dish. It also features pasta, chickpeas, fried onions, and a homemade tomato sauce. Healthy, filling, nutritious! #vegetarian #vegan| cookingtheglobe.com
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Koshari - Egyptian Lentil and Rice Pasta
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

Lentils and rice is a national Egyptian dish. Also featuring chickpeas, pasta, and a homemade tomato sauce, it's a perfect vegetarian and vegan dinner!

Cuisine: Egyptian
Servings: 6 people
Calories Per Serving: 410 kcal
Author: CookingTheGlobe
Ingredients
For the Koshari:
  • 1/2 cup medium or short grain rice
  • 2 oz (60g) dried spaghetti , broken into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup macaroni
  • 1/2 cup brown lentils
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion , finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas , drained, plus more for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • salt , to taste
For the sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 15 oz or 450ml can chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Instructions
  1. The Koshari. In a large pot, boil water and add the rice, spaghetti, and macaroni. Cook for about 20 minutes, until tender and drain.
  2. While the first ingredients are cooking, in a medium pot, add 4 cups of water together with the lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook once again for about 20 minutes, until tender. Drain.
  3. In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Fry the onion until dark brown. When done, transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the rice, spaghetti, macaroni, lentils, chickpeas, cumin, cayenne, ginger, and coriander. Season with salt to taste.
  5. The sauce. In a skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and add the onion. Cook until golden. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more. Now add the chopped tomatoes and spices. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until thickened.
  6. Serve the rice and lentil mixture topped with the sauce, fried onions, and a few chickpeas. A simple tomato and cucumber salad can be also served with Koshari. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes
Adapted from In Her Kitchen by Gabriele Galimberti

 

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12 Comments

  • Reply Azlin Bloor December 18, 2016 at 10:41 am

    Beautifully done! I remember many a meal of Koshari from food carts as well as restaurants in Egypt. I simply adore your presentation, we do enjoy a meal of homecooked Koshari too.

    • Reply Igor December 21, 2016 at 5:29 pm

      I am happy you liked it!

  • Reply Christie December 18, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    This sounds like a recipe I would love. It is loaded with healthy ingredients.

    • Reply Igor December 21, 2016 at 5:29 pm

      It’s indeed super healthy, Christie 😉

  • Reply Lisa Bryan | Downshiftology December 18, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    What a delicious vegetarian dish – and brings back memories from my travels to Egypt!

    • Reply Igor December 21, 2016 at 5:31 pm

      I didn’t have a chance to taste Koshari in the original country until now but I surely will in the future 🙂

  • Reply Liz @ I Heart Vegetables December 18, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    Wow that looks great! I don’t think I’ve ever had anything like this but it definitely looks like the kind of dinner I’d enjoy. Lentils are such a great source of protein!

    • Reply Igor December 21, 2016 at 5:35 pm

      Yup, lentils are really good for your body 😉

  • Reply Sarah @ Champagne Tastes December 18, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    I’ve never tried this, but it sounds delicious! I just tried a similar dish (but no pasta) from a Persian cookbook I have and it was fantastic!

    • Reply Igor December 21, 2016 at 5:41 pm

      Yes, there is a similar dish without pasta in other Arab countries called Mujaddara 🙂

  • Reply Amira December 29, 2016 at 5:19 am

    Oooh IGOR, this is on my Friday menu :), my kids love Koshary and we won first place in a local competition here with this amazingly delish meal. I have to add that most people make the sauce without the onion, just garlic and we add vinegar to it too. There is also another sauce that is optional but highly recommended for Koshary called Kammoneya , it is a cumin sauce with vinegar and garlic as well. I love mine super hot. Thanks for such a lovely presentation of one of my country’s traditional dishes :).

    • Reply Igor January 1, 2017 at 7:47 pm

      Thanks for the interesting information, Amira! It’s awesome that there even are competitions for the best Koshari 🙂

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