koshari is egypt’s national dish. it’s a cheap eat and in cairo, you’ll often find it being served up at street stands, hole-in-the-walls, restaurants and basically everywhere. it’s carb on carb goodness that reminds you of your mother’s cooking…even if, like me, your non-egyptian mother never really made it.

whenever I make koshari, i think of a few years back in sayyida zainab, where i had the best koshari ever. seriously, nothing can compare. in egypt, koshari is almost always served in metal bowls and is assembled in lightening fast speed. the koshari man will dish it out for you in like, under thirty seconds. it’s amazing to see. truth be told, this metal bowl was the inspiration for making koshari as my first blogpost.

  koshari is equal parts lentils:rice:macaroni. use elbow macaroni. this may sound like a rigid expectation, and maybe it it, but it makes me incredibly sad when i see someone using spaghetti or penne or something.

what really makes koshari koshari and not mujadara or kitchari, (okay, other than the macaroni) is the topping of a spicy tomato sauce, or as my aunt calls it, salsa (no, this doesn’t give you license to describe koshari as egyptian chili, please, for the love of god, don’t, this also makes me very sad.) the sauce is very flavorful and you can up or lower the heat level to your liking. and if that wasn’t good enough, i now introduce you to the icing on the cake: fried onions. be generous with this step, my friends.

add chickpeas and bam! you got yourself koshari shami. 


1 cup brown lentils
2 cups of water
1 tsp ground roasted cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp of black pepper

1 box of elbow pasta (16 oz)

1 1/2 cups of egyptian rice (short grain rice also works)
1/2 tsp roasted ground cumin
1/2 tsp roasted ground coriander
1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp ghee

rinse brown lentils and place them in a pot with 2 cups of cold water. add salt, pepper and cumin and bring to a boil. cook until tender and drain away excess water.

in another pot, bring salted water to a boil and cook elbow macaroni till al dente.

rinse and drain egyptian rice. in yet another pot (sorry for all the dishes), heat the ghee and sauté the salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon until fragrant; add rice and sauté for two minutes. add 2 1/4 cups of water and bring to a boil. when water begins to boil, turn the heat down low and cover pot.

tomato sauce
1 can of 32 oz whole peeled tomatoes, chopped finely
1 tbsp of tomato paste
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp ground roasted cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp of black pepper
red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
1/3 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped (also optional)

sauté two cloves of garlic in olive oil.  when fragrant, add cumin and tomato paste. add chopped peeled tomatoes with sauce. add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. allow sauce to simmer for 15 minutes. before serving, add half of the cilantro to the sauce. allow the rest for garnishing

garlic vinegar sauce
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup of white vinegar
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of water
1/2 tsp of salt

mince garlic with a mortar and pestle or with the side of your knife. the garlic should be paste-like. combine garlic with vinegar, olive oil, water and salt. pour this sauce over koshari for an extra tang.

fried onions

2 yellow onions, thinly sliced into rings
1 clove of garlic, minced
4 tbsp of canola oil

slice onions very finely into thin rings. heat a pan with canola oil and caramelize/fry the onions. make sure you drain all liquids from the onions and stir to keep from burning. onions should be very deep brown to black in color. make sure to be attentive so as they don’t burn (been there, done that, not at all fun.)

i’m very specific about how i layer my plate, from bottom up: macaroni – rice – lentils – sauce – fried onions – garlic vinegar sauce. bam. enjoy!

egyptian flag


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