Koshari (Egyptian Rice, Lentils and Macaroni with Spicy Tomato Chile Sauce)

Egyptian Koshari

Koshari (also spelled Koshary or Kushari) is the national dish of Egypt.  It’s served in virtually every Egyptian restaurant, in every Egyptian home, and on every Egyptian street corner.  Street vendors serve the dish from carts to people eagerly waiting in line to eat this beloved and highly popular dish.  An unusual combination, Koshari mixes lentils, macaroni noodles and rice into a single dish and it’s then topped with a spicy tomato sauce that uses a special Middle Eastern spice blend, garbanzo beans, and fried onions.  The idea sounds strange…until you taste it.  Then you’ll know why this dish is a favorite among Egyptians.

Egyptians and tourists fondly speak of the “Koshari Man,” the title bestowed upon street vendors who sell the dish from their carts.  Aziz Awad, who used to be a Koshari street vendor and now works at a downtown restaurant, describes it this way:  “The Koshari man grabs a bowl, and scoops a little of each ingredient into the bowl….Each Koshary dish takes about five seconds to [assemble]. His speed can be surprising to you. I have worked here since we opened 10 years ago, and before that I sold Koshary on a street cart, so I have to be fast. My hands are accustomed to the same movements I do all day everyday, so you can say that I memorized the movements rather than think about them” (www.touregypt.net).

Every Egyptian knows and recognizes the sound of Koshari being made from down the street.  Heba Fatteen Bizzari explains, “As the Koshari man scoops, he knocks his metal spoon against the sides of the bowls, making the Koshari symphony that you won’t hear elsewhere. When the Koshari man prepares an order of more than four the restaurant fills with sound as if it was a rehearsal for a concert. The restaurants of Koshari are very noisy. One sits to eat while the Koshari man practices his drums in your ears” (www.touregypt.net).

Though it is Egypt’s national dish, it isn’t actually Egyptian in origin.  Neither rice nor macaroni are indigenous to Egypt.  It is believed that Koshari originated in India and dates back to the time of British Colonization.  The name “Koshari” is actually from the Hindu “khichri”, which refers to a dish of lentils and rice.  When the British arrived in Egypt in the late 1800’s they brought this dish with them – it was inexpensive and filling.  It didn’t take long before the dish was enthusiastically embraced by the Egyptian people.

The crowning aspect of this dish is the flavor-packed, spicy tomato sauce.  It’s made with a special spice blend called Baharat (Arabic for “spice”), an all-purpose spice blend commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine.  Just a pinch adds depth and flavor to sauces, soups, stews and meat.  I stocked up on on a myriad of Middle Eastern spices when I was in Jerusalem and have been making my own blends since.

The Daring Gourmet in Jerusalem

Unless you have a Middle Eastern store in your area or order it online, this spice blend can be challenging to find.  However, as with any spice blend, it’s much better made fresh in your own kitchen anyway and I’m going to share my recipe for it with you!

Baharat Recipe

Egyptian Koshari baharat garbanzo beans onions macaroni lentils

Here is another Daring Gourmet recipe using this wonderful spice blend:  Chicken Machboos (Spiced Chicken and Rice – National Dish of Bahrain)

Chicken Machboos Middle Eastern Biryani Rice

Now let’s move on to the Koshari.  This recipe is very authentic and very simple to make, but be prepared to dirty up a few pots!

Koshari (Egyptian Rice, Lentils and Macaroni with Spicy Tomato Chile Sauce)
 
The national dish of Egypt.
:
Cuisine: Egyptian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup medium grain rice
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 2 cups small macaroni
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 garlic clove, quartered
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Salt to taste
  • For the Sauce:
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 (15 oz) can unseasoned tomato sauce (cooked/pureed tomatoes)
  • 2 tsp baharat spice blend (see recipe here)
  • ¼ teaspoon red chile flakes (omit if you dislike spicy hot)
  • 1 tbs red wine vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Crispy Onion Garnish:
  • 2 large onions, finely sliced
  • Oil for deep-frying
  • 1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans
Instructions
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the rice and fry it for 2 minutes, then add the vegetable stock. Bring it to a boil, decrease the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
  2. Rinse the lentils under cold water and add them to another medium saucepan with 2 cups of water. Add the garlic, cumin and bay leaf and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Once cooked, add the salt and stir to combine. Strain any excess liquid if necessary.
  3. Cook the macaroni according to package instructions until al dente.
  4. Note: Prepare the rice, macaroni and lentils while the sauce is simmering and leave them covered in the pots to keep warm.
  5. To make sauce:
  6. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add the onion. Cook until soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until golden brown. Add the tomato sauce, baharat, salt and pepper to taste, chile flakes (if using) and red wine vinegar. Bring it to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. To make the crispy onions, heat the oil in a skillet. Add the onions and fry until dark brown. Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the oil and place them on paper towels to drain and cool.
  8. Add the rice, lentils and macaroni to a large bowl and toss to combine (or simply scoop out desired amounts of each onto the plates). Sprinkle a little baharat over each portion and serve topped with some of the spicy tomato sauce. Top with garbanzo beans, the crispy onions and another sprinkle of baharat. Serve warm.

 

Koshari Koshary national dish Egypt rice lentils macaroni baharat spicy tomato sauce

 

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42 Responses

  1. wrote on

    I feel like I just learned so much from this post! I love ethnic foods with warm spices and different ingredients, so this dish has me intrigued! I’m pinning it to my to try board!!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thanks, Julia! It’s really so much fun, isn’t it? To try new foods with new flavors and to simultaneously learn about the accompanying culture….It makes for great conversation around the dinner table while enjoying the dish you’re talking about.

      And this particular dish is so kid-friendly, too. Rice, lentils, macaroni, tomato sauce…what’s there not for a kid to love? :) (Just leave out the red chile flakes!)

  2. wrote on

    This is fascinating! I am always looking for different cultures to experience but I have never, ever tried Egyptian food! Thank you :)

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      You are so welcome and thank you for visiting!

  3. Joe

    wrote on

    Thank you for this recipe. I used to live in Egypt and every recipe I made prior to this did not use Bahrat. That made it taste just like I remember. Thanks so much!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      You are very welcome, Joe! I’m so glad that you found my site and tried this recipe. There are some other great North African and Middle Eastern recipes on here – and many more to come. I hope you’ll visit again!

  4. Christine

    wrote on

    I just made a batch of the spice mixture so that I can try both the kosheri and chicken recipes later in the week. Now my kitchen smells great!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Christine! Wonderful! I love the smell of freshly prepared spice blends! I’d love to hear what you think of the other recipes once you’ve made them!

  5. Jay and Kelly Young

    wrote on

    We made this tonight, and I had to stop myself from going back for thirds! Thank you so much.

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      SO happy to hear it, Jay and Kelly! Since you enjoyed both the Chicken Machboos and Koshari so much, I’ll need to make a note to post some more Middle Eastern dishes in the near future. Thank you so much for making this and for your feedback!

  6. Crystal

    wrote on

    Gosh, my pantry was bare, and I googled “tomato sauce and rice,” which is what I was down to, and this recipe popped up! I didn’t have the chickpeas, and used brown rice spaghetti that I broke into pieces, since I had no macaroni. I also made the baharat with the spices I had on hand. This was sooooo delicious! Very satisfying and comforting, not to mention cheap! This will become a dish in our rotation for sure. Thanks so much for posting it!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Crystal, that’s wonderful! You know what they say about necessity being the mother of invention and that goes for food, too! Some of the best recipes I’ve developed have come as a result of my determination to use a specific set of ingredients rather than let them go to waste. And yes, cheapness is one of the reasons this is Egypt’s national dish – it’s simple, easy, delicious and inexpensive. I’m so happy you found and enjoyed this recipe and appreciate your feedback!

  7. Salma Soliman

    wrote on

    Hi Kimberly,
    I was looking for a recipe for mango chutney when I found your site, which I like,its really daring and innovative. I present a cooking show in our middle eastern area, a channel called Fatafeat ,I liked your koshari recipe as am Egyptian,I tell you the recipe is quite right (save from the garlic in the lentil) and the photo looks truly authentic. Also loved your chicken with mango chutney,I didn’t try it before and will cook it soon at home . Thank you for the delicious site. :))

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Salma! I am so flattered by your compliments and truly appreciate your kind words. I am sure your cooking show is amazing! I am so happy you found my site, greatly appreciate your feedback (and most certainly welcome more!), and hope you’ll return often. – Kimberly

  8. Sally

    wrote on

    Not sure if I’m not reading the recipe right but when do you add the quartered clove of garlic and 2 onions finely sliced? Is it with the lentils?

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Sally! The garlic is added in step 2 with the lentils and the onions are added in step 6. The instructions for the crispy fried onions that go on top are in step 7.

  9. wrote on

    As an Egyptian I would love to say that you’ve done a wonderful job. The dish looks absolutely gorgeous! Can I please use this picture in Egypt’s Wikipedia page in the “Cuisine” section? It will be a fantastic addition to the page.

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thank you very much for the compliment, Yasser! I really appreciate that.

      As to the Wikipedia matter, as much as I’d like to say yes, I unfortunately have to say no. The reason being, any pictures submitted to Wikipedia become public domain and can be used by anyone at any time for anything (including commercial use) – without restriction. Still, I greatly appreciate your compliment and I thank you for visiting.

  10. wrote on

    what a great recipe – just waiting for the rice to finish cook and then I will be enjoying it for my lunch – I cook all types of global food and so glad to learn about this new recipe..thx

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thank you, Chef Mireille! So glad you’re making this and thank you for stopping by!

  11. jazz

    wrote on

    i tried your recipe and believe me it was fantastic…thanks for such an authentic recipe…i had kushari in saudi arabia and then in dubai and now i m in toronto and was craving for it and it really satisfied my taste buds…thanks once again:)

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Ah, that’s so wonderful to hear, Jazz! I work very hard to create the most authentic recipes possible and I’m always so thrilled to receive feedback like yours from people who are familiar with “the real thing.” Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know what you thought! Best, Kimberly

  12. wrote on

    […] It is a popular street food that is prepared by chefs that have become known as Koshari Men who serve it from several pots each containing the various ingredients of the dish. In fact, it is the national food of Egypt, but it is believed that the dish came together through Hindu and British means during the time of the British colonization in the 1800s (daringgourmet.com.) […]

  13. wrote on

    Ah how wonderful! I remember eating a lot of Koshary when I stayed in Cairo. I also remember just how huge the portions always were for such a filling dish. Will have to try making my own sometime with this delicious recipe :)

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      It’s true the portions are very generous in that region of the world. Very different than, for example, France where you leave the restaurant still starving! :) Thanks for visiting, Natalie, and enjoy the Koshari!

  14. Anonymous

    wrote on

    有机会的话,很想品尝下!!!

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Google Translation: “There is a chance, would like to taste the next! ! !”

      Excellent, happy cooking and enjoy!

  15. Emily

    wrote on

    There are 3 instances of onion called for in your ingredients (once in the main bunch, once with the sauce, and once with the crispy onions), but they are only in the instructions for the sauce and crispy onions bits. The “2 large onions, thinly sliced” are unaccounted for.

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Emily, thanks for pointing that out! The “2 large onions, thinly sliced” are for the crispy onions portion only.

  16. Matthew

    wrote on

    Koshari is great – and very healthy! High fiber, high protein, vegan, and if you measure your ingredients carefully (and omit the crispy onions), about 425 calories will fill you up. Thanks for getting this recipe out there!

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      So true, Matthew! But I couldn’t live without those crispy onions!! If it means an extra 10 minutes on the treadmill, SO worth it! :)

  17. Don

    wrote on

    Dumb question… is that two cups of cooked macaroni or uncooked? I assume uncooked but that seems like a lot relative to the amount of rice.

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Don! Yes, it’s 2 cups of uncooked macaroni. Happy cooking!

  18. Anonymous

    wrote on

    This was good! I will make again, next time either reducing the macaroni to a cup or increasing the amount of sauce. Also I caramelized the onions in a bit of butter or olive oil instead of deep frying them (I’m after the flavor more-so than the texture) and they added so much to the dish.

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Wonderful, I’m glad you enjoyed it! I’m the kind of person who likes a lot of gravy, sauce, ketchup, condiments, etc with my food, so when I make this I usually double the sauce. In keeping with tradition though, I’ve presented this recipe as it’s eaten in Egypt. Same with the onions. I love the texture of the crispy fried onions and that’s what I use for this dish, but I’m also a pushover for those marvelous slow-caramelized onions :)

  19. wrote on

    Great to see a good koshari recipe. I’ve also used your baharat recipe for a few dishes so far and keep looking for more ways to use it because it is a unique flavour. I’ve been making koshari (without proper baharat – until now) for years and found your blog while doing some research to find info on it for a blog post of my own on koshari: http://tinyurl.com/n2bv9ka . I’ve found myself coming back to your blog often since then. I’m keen to try your Spicy Moroccan Veggie burgers, Chicken Machboos and Balsamic Glazed Steak rolls in the next few weeks.

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thanks, Bunny, I’m happy you found my blog! Baharat really is a wonderful spice blend, isn’t it? Let me know what you think of the dishes you mentioned once you’ve had the chance to try them. Thanks again and happy cooking!

  20. wrote on

    Wow, made this for dinner yesterday – PERFECT! I just added a bit of sugar to the tomato sauce. Served all 6 of us

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Awesome, ptsorange! So glad it was a hit!

  21. wrote on

    I tutor a little Egyptian boy through our church’s tutoring program. So I have interest in what he eats. I made this today and it was fabulous. I ate 2 small bowls. Filling and the spicing mixture was the best compliment. I am taking a dish to his house today to see what they think. They are always so sweet and generous and their house smells wonderful as grandma cooks dinner.

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      I’m thrilled to hear that, thanks so much! What a neat opportunity to tutor this boy and to experience a bit of Egyptian culture in their home…next you need a dinner invite to sample some of grandma’s authentic Egyptian cooking :)

Trackbacks

  1. […] It is a popular street food that is prepared by chefs that have become known as Koshari Men who serve it from several pots each containing the various ingredients of the dish. In fact, it is the national food of Egypt, but it is believed that the dish came together through Hindu and British means during the time of the British colonization in the 1800s (daringgourmet.com.) […]

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