Koshari is famous Egyptian street food and the national dish of Egypt, also written as (Koshary or kushari). Sold in food carts. It is layers of rice, lentils, pasta, fried onions, and chickpeas. Egyptians serve koshari with three sauces, tomato sauce, hot sauce (shittah), and cumin sauce. This vegan dish is delicious and the rice mixture is made in one pot. The recipe I’m sharing with you here will save you time. Watch the video and read the notes on the recipe card for guidance!
What is Koshari made of?
Before telling you what koshari is made of, let me tell you a little about its origin. The recipe for koshari was created in the 19th century. People claim that the British brought an Indian dish popular in India called khichdi was to Egypt at that time, so the Egyptians adopted it and then made many changes to it including adding pasta.
Koshari is made of rice mixed with pasta and green lentils, topped with fried onions, and served with tomato sauce along with cumin and chili sauce; finally, it is garnished with chickpeas.
Is koshari good for you?
Well, this Egyptian street food is loaded with carbohydrates but not so high in calories, and consuming it moderately is good for you. Koshari was the main meal for laborers and truck drivers; it fills and provides energy.
Go ahead and enjoy your koshari but be moderate, this dish is so delicious, and you might have a little more than what you should! It is similar to a Lebanese vegan dish called Mujadara.
What ingredients do you need to make it?
Short grain rice – I use regular short-grain rice or Egyptian rice. You can go for basmati but do not use short-grain sticky rice.
Green lentils – There are two types of green lentils, one is small, and the other is large; I use the large, it cooks faster.
Cooking oil – We will use a lot of oil in this recipe to make the koshari and the sauces, so if you decide on using olive oil, then only use it to make the sauces and not for frying the onions. You can also use ghee but not for all the steps, or the dish will turn out really rich. I have used corn oil.
Small elbow macaroni – vermicelli – spaghetti.
Onion – You can go for yellow onion, but of course, I went for red onion for more flavor. Some add flour to the onion before frying it to keep it crispy, but there is no need for it in this recipe.
Chicken or vegetable bouillon.
Tomato puree – I have pureed a fresh tomato, but you can use canned.
Tomato paste – Get the plain one with no flavors.
Red chili powder – The chili powder I have used is not the one sold in American stores with mixed spices. It was pure red chili powder.
Cumin, and coriander powder.
Salt and black pepper.
Minced garlic – I suggest you use fresh garlic to mince and not use the one in jars, the flavor will be different.
How to make koshari Recipe and save time?
To make the authentic koshari, you have to follow the recipe as written in the recipe card and in the same order. More details are in the recipe card!
To make the koshari
- Wash the green lentils and then soak them in hot water for an hour.
- In a saucepan, the oil, and when it’s hot, fry the onion until brown. Please make sure not to burn it, or the koshari will taste bitter. Remove the fried onion from the saucepan and distribute it over a kitchen paper towel; it will dry and get a little crunchy.
- We will use the onion oil (the oil left in the saucepan after frying the onion) in the coming steps.
- Wash the rice and let it soak in warm water for 7 minutes.
- In a large pan, add onion oil and when it’s hot, add the vermicelli and fry until it is brown, then add the washed and drained rice and fry for a minute or two on medium heat. Add the previously soaked and drained green lentils and fry for a few seconds.
- Add the elbow macaroni and mix, then add the chicken or vegetable bouillon. Pour the boiling water and mix for a few seconds making sure the bouillon is mixed well with the water.
- Add the spices, then break the spaghetti into three and add it. Mix well and cover the pan. Cook on high heat until the water is no longer visible on the surface.
- Uncover the pan, give the mixture a quick stir, reduce the heat to the lowest, cover and cook for 12 to 14 minutes. Turn off the heat but keep the pan covered to allow the pasta and rice to cook further slowly. Fluff the rice with a fork.
To make the tomato sauce:
- In a saucepan, add onion oil and when it’s hot, add the garlic and fry for a few seconds.
- Pour the tomato puree, mix for two minutes, and add the spices, salt, and sugar. Add the water, and cook until the sauce is reduced a little, thicker, and the oil is showing on the surface.
To make the cumin sauce:
- In a saucepan, add water, and when it comes to a boil, add the garlic, spices, and salt. Mix well, then add the vinegar.
- When it comes to a boil again, turn off the heat.
To make the red chili sauce (shatta):
- Add onion oil to a hot pan, then add the chili powder. Careful, if the red chili is too hot, the smoke from the oil will make you cough, so keep the windows open, or after the oil is hot, turn off the heat, then add the chili powder, when it’s about to sizzle add a spoonful from the tomato sauce and two spoons from the cumin sauce. Mix well and turn off the heat.
To assemble the koshari plate:
- First, add a layer of the rice on a serving plate, then pour the tomato sauce; on top of it, pour the red chili sauce, then the chickpeas/garbanzo beans, and then the fried onion. You can add the cumin sauce at the end if you wish.
How to eat koshari?
You can eat koshari as a whole meal, but if you wish, you can have salad on the side or serve it as a breakfast along with Hummus, falafel, and foul. You can add protein by serving it with boiled eggs.
How to store the leftovers?
Refrigerate the koshari for up to 4 days, you can also freeze it for two months; but in both cases, you have to store it first in an airtight container to prevent any other smell in the freezer or the fridge to sneak into it.
Egyptian Koshari Made in One Pan
To caramelize the onion
- 1 large onion thinly sliced
- ½ to ¾ cup cooking oil
To make the koshari rice
- 1 cup short-grain rice or Egyptian rice (Read the notes)
- ¼ cup green lentils. Wash and soak in very hot water for one hour before using in this recipe
- ½ cup small elbow macaroni uncooked
- ¼ cup vermicelli uncooked
- 60 gm spaghetti break in half or to three
- 3 tablespoon onion oil leftover oil from frying the onion
- 1 cube chicken or vegetable bouillon
- 3 ½ cups boiling water
To make the tomato sauce
- 1 large tomato pureed or two medium tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder
- ¼ teaspoon cumin powder
- ¼ teaspoon coriander powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoon onion oil
- 1 cup water
To make cumin sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
To make chili sauce or chili oil (Shattah)
- 2 ½ tablespoon onion oil
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 to 2 tablespoon tomato sauce previously prepared
- 2 tablespoon cumin sauce prepared previously
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas use canned
To caramelize or brown the onion
- In a saucepan, add the oil, and when it is hot, fry the onion slices. Make sure to stir the onion now and then to help brown the onion evenly. When the onion turns brown, turn off the heat because it will start to darken fast. Remove the onion from the oil using a slotted spoon.
- Spread the onion on a kitchen paper towel and let it cool, do not cover. The onion will get a little crispy.
To make the koshari rice
- Add the onion oil (the oil we fried the onion in) to a large pan. When the oil is hot, add the vermicelli and fry until brown. Now, add the washed and drained rice and fry for another minute or two on medium heat.
- Drain the green lentils, add to the rice, mix for a few seconds, then add the elbow macaroni and mix for a few more seconds. Drop the chicken or vegetable bouillon and the boiling water. When the mixture is about to boil, add the broken spaghetti and add it to the rice; mix again to prevent the spaghetti from sticking. Cover the pan and increase the heat. In this step, if you are not using low sodium bouillon, add salt.
- When you can no longer see the water on the surface of the rice and pasta, mix the mixture gently, reduce the heat to the lowest, cover the pan, and let the rice and pasta cook for 11 to 13 minutes. Turn off the heat. Fluff the rice with a fork and then cover it and keep it aside.
To make the tomato sauce
- In a saucepan, add the onion oil, and when it is hot, add the minced garlic. Stir the garlic for a few seconds; careful it shouldn’t burn. Pour the tomato puree and stir.
- When the mixture simmer, add the tomato paste, spices, salt, and sugar. Mix well for a minute, and then add the water. Let it come to a boil, and then let it simmer until the oil comes to the surface and the sauce gets a little thicker, as shown in the video. Cover and keep aside.
To make the cumin sauce
- In a saucepan, add the water, and when it boils, add the minced garlic, cumin, coriander powder, and salt. Add the white vinegar and mix well. When the mixture comes to a boil, turn off the heat and keep it aside.
To make the chili sauce (Shattah)
- In a small saucepan, add the onion oil, and when it’s hot, add the red chili powder. Mix for a few seconds, add one or two tablespoons from the tomato sauce and add two tablespoons from the cumin sauce.
- Mix well, turn off the heat. You will need to open the windows because the smoke from the chili might make you cough if the chili was too hot!
To assemble the koshari
- To serve one plate, scoop out the rice, then pour some tomato sauce in the middle of the rice; on top of it, pour a very small amount from the chili sauce depending on how spicy you like your koshari. Garnish with chickpeas and fried onions. Some pour the cumin sauce at the end, others keep pouring it as they eat.
- Don’t use brown rice, it will take a long time to cook and the pasta will become mushy.
- Short grain sticky rice will not work in this recipe.
- You can use basmati rice.
- Look for Egyptian rice or short-grain rice.
- Please note that American Chili powder is a blend of spices, while in this recipe, you will need hot red chili powder.
- You don’t have to make all the sauces mentioned in this post; most people only go for tomato sauce.
- I didn’t add salt to the rice since the chicken bouillon had enough salt. If you are using low sodium, taste the water for seasoning and add a pinch of salt.
- To save time, you can use store-bought crispy onions, but you will miss the flavor in the sauces and koshari.
- You can also use a spice blend called bahart which is a blend of Arabic spices instead of cumin and coriander powder.
- I have used medium size garlic cloves it has more flavor.