Koshary, Egypt’s national dish, consists of chickpeas, pasta, rice and brown lentils, smothered in a spicy tomato sauce and topped with delicious crispy onions. This dish is a hearty Egyptian comfort food, found in most Egyptian restaurants and homes.
Koshary can be served from a large platter or the individual components can be served in separate bowls for guests to help themselves as they prefer. It can be served as a stand-alone meal, or with a side of salad or other vegetables.
This tasty vegetarian dish is suitable for making ahead and meal planning as all of the components can be prepared days in advance and stored until eaten. Just reheat in a microwave or in a pan for a few minutes, until it is hot throughout. However, the crispy onions are better when freshly cooked.
Origin & Cultural Significance
Koshary was introduced to Egypt in the mid-19th century by the British, inspired by the Indian dish called khichdi which is made of rice and lentils. During British colonization, khichdi was brought over to Egypt where the Egyptians adapted the dish by adding fried onion, pasta, chickpeas, cumin and vinegar.
Some believe that the pasta in koshary was influenced by the Italian communities in Egypt at the time. Every carbohydrate and spice that has been incorporated into the recipe makes it the delicious comfort food it is today.
Some regions of Egypt have different variations of koshary. For instance, Alexandrian koshary includes yellow lentils and Egyptian rolled eggs. Outside of Egypt, koshary has also gained popularity in Eastern Arabia and Yemen. Each country also varies the recipe slightly, for example by adding grilled vegetables or adding chicken.
Koshary, Egypt’s national dish, consists of chickpeas, pasta, rice and brown lentils, smothered in a spicy tomato sauce and topped with delicious crispy onions.
Crispy Onion Topping
- White onions, sliced into rings - 2
- Olive Oil
- Salt - to taste
- White onion, chopped - 1
- Garlic cloves, minced - 4
- Tomato passata/chopped tomatoes - 1 cup
- Coriander - 2 tsp
- Cumin - 2 tsp
- Chilli flakes - 2 tsp
- Salt and pepper - to taste
- White vinegar - 2 tbsp
- Olive Oil
- Brown lentils, rinsed - 2 cups
- Short grain rice - 2 cups
- Pasta (elbow/macaroni) - 2 cups
- Chickpeas, drained - 1 can
Crispy Onion Topping
- Heat oil in a large frying pan over a high medium-heat.
- Fry thinly sliced onion rings in oil for 20-30 minutes, until golden-brown and crisp.
- Remove onions from the pan and dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
- In the oil previously used to fry the crispy onion topping, sauté garlic for 2 minutes on medium heat.
- Add 1 chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes until translucent.
- Add 1 cup of tomato passata to the pan and bring to boil.
- Season with coriander, cumin, chilli flakes, salt and pepper.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the sauce thickens.
- Stir in the white vinegar.
- Cover the tomato sauce and keep warm until ready to serve.
- Place the washed lentils in a pot with boiling water and simmer for 20 minutes until cooked, drain and set aside.
- Add the rice to a pan of boiling water and cook for 15 minutes until tender. Remove from heat and cover.
- Boil pasta until al dente following the packaging instructions, drain and set aside.
- Heat the chickpeas in a pan with oil for 3-5 minutes and set aside.
- Combine the lentils, rice, pasta and chickpeas together in a bowl.
- Generously top with warm tomato sauce and sprinkle crispy onions on top.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 497Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 247mgCarbohydrates: 84gFiber: 14gSugar: 9gProtein: 20g