Serves a Crowd

Egyptian Street-Style Koshary (Lentils, Rice, Pasta and Garlic Tomato Sauce)

October 19, 2020
0 Ratings
Photo by Romeo Delshad
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 6 + leftovers
Author Notes

Koshary is the second most popular street food in Egypt, second only to falafel. Popular cafeteria-style restaurants serve this dish in every neighborhood, in every city, town and municipality across the country.

What is Koshary?
Koshary is a layered dish full of carb-loaded dreams. It's brown lentils and rice cooked in onion-flavored oil. Then, topped with pasta and generously bathed in a tangy, garlicky tomato sauce. This yummy combo is then covered in fried onions, chickpeas, and extra spice for those who can stand it.

The result? Garlicky, oniony, soft, crunchy, salty, vinegar-y incredible goodness that will have you filling your plate again and again. This dish is SO addictive, that Koshary joints offer a "kemala," or second serving, regularly on their menus. Because no one eats just one plate.

While it uses, like 4 pots and pans, 2 colanders, and takes over the entire kitchen, this dish is vegan, vegetarian, and is budget-friendly. In fact, you can probably feed 8 people for less than $10! Try it, and you'll be addicted, too.

Bel hana wel shefa (Arabic: enjoy it with happiness and good health)! —Hajar D.

What You'll Need
  • Koshary
  • 3-4 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  • 4 large onions
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 pound small-shaped pasta, such as Ditalini or elbow
  • salt
  • sugar
  • 1 can, chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Tangy Garlic Tomato Sauce
  • 1/4 cup oil (preferably the oil used for frying onions, above)
  • 1/4 cup freshly pressed garlic (about 8-12 garlic cloves, use more or less according to preference)
  • 1 can, tomato paste (5 oz)
  • 1 can, tomato sauce or diced tomatoes (15 oz)(14 oz)
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. Koshary
  2. Begin by peeling the onions, cutting them in half and slicing them into thin half moons. Place in a colander over a plate and rub with 1 tablespoon of salt, allow salt to extract excess liquid for a few minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a deep frying pan on medium high heat.
  4. Simultaneously, bring 3-4 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil in a medium non-stick pot. When the water boils, add the lentils (rinsed) and let boil for exactly 5 minutes, then strain in a colander and set aside. The lentils should still have some crunch.
  5. When the frying oil is hot, fry the onions in batches until they are light brown. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of sugar per batch at this stage, stir. Once they reach medium brown, remove and place on a paper towel-lined plate. They will continue to cook and turn a darker shade of brown (See photos).
  6. Cook pasta according to package directions in well-salted water. Drain and set aside, drizzling with olive oil and covering until ready to serve.
  7. Remove around 1/2 cup of the oil used for frying the onions into the pot where the lentils were cooked, along with a sprinkling of fried onions. Add 3 cups of water and 1.5 teaspoons of salt. Cover and allow to come to a boil.
  8. Add all of the lentils and 2 cups of rinsed medium grain rice. Stir well and cover, allow to come to a boil. This is the actual koshary :)
  9. As soon as the koshary mixture boils, reduce heat to very low and allow to cook, covered, until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and cover until ready to plate.
  1. Tangy Garlic Tomato Sauce
  2. In a (separate) medium saucepan, heat the oil on medium heat.
  3. Add the garlic, stirring frequently until it turns a light golden color.
  4. Add the can of tomato paste, stirring constantly. Continue to stir the paste, garlic, and oil until the tomato paste softens and separates a bit (about 2-3 minutes total). Add the vinegar (caution: it will splash).
  5. Add the tomato sauce or diced tomatoes, and an additional 1 can full of water. Add salt, pepper, and cumin.
  6. Stir to incorporate. Cover and allow to come to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat to low. Simmer until the oil rises to the top, about 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasonings, if needed.
  8. Now, it's time to assemble your Koshary Plate: In a wide bowl, add a generous portion of Koshary. Top with cooked pasta. Spoon tangy tomato sauce over the pasta and koshary. Sprinkle with crunchy onions. Enjoy! Optional: add chickpeas and crushed red pepper flakes.

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1 Review

Emily May 10, 2022
This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’ve always just guessed at the process and mine is much simpler (I just cook my brown rice and lentils together with a little vermicelli and sauté onions for the top) and tasty, but this is a must try!!!! And the sauce! With all that garlic, it must be so good!