Food & Beverage - Destinations

Koshari: the carbohydrates that bring everyone together

By Editorial Team
3 min read

Egyptians have mixed opinions on many issues. However, there is one thing they agree on without hesitation: koshari —an absolute triumph of carbohydrates, among the country‘s most beloved dishes.

What is koshari?

Koshari is a tasty specialty in all seasons. It is truly addictive, much like all carbohydrate dishes. Pasta, rice and lentils are combined with the magic touch of tomatoes, spices, fried onions, flavored vinegar, garlic and chili peppers. In short, the classic example where the sum of the parts is much better than the individual components.


Where did koshari originate?

This cheap and healthy Egyptian national dish is so popular and enjoyed that there are restaurants in Cairo that serve nothing else. Although koshari is the first example of Egyptian fast food, very little is known about its origins. According to the most reliable sources, it is a low-cost dish created for the lower classes who could not afford meat. According to more mischievous sources instead, the vegan components of the dish probably originated from the dietary rules of Copts during periods of fasting. Today everything is different, and you can often find koshari with fried chicken or lamb liver.

How to eat it?

Whether you buy it in a restaurant or from a street vendor, koshari is often the only item on the menu. It changes in size and the sauces of your choice. Sometimes you can choose from a few ingredients, and, in some places, it is seasoned with lemon juice.

Koshari is prepared in seconds and eating it is a multi-sensorial experience. In specialized restaurants, the ingredients are previously cooked and taken from special containers. The movements of the cook are rapid and harmonious, accompanied by the rhythmic and pleasant sound of the spoon beating against the metal bowls. The sound produced is almost hypnotic, like attending a percussion solo. Maybe that’s why one dish is never enough?

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(for the tomato sauce)

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 50 g of chopped onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 400 g of tomato puree
  • 1 scant spoon of powdered cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried crumbled chili pepper

(for the koshari)

  • 200 g rice
  • 200 g soaked lentils
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dehydrated garlic powder
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil
  • 150 g of sliced onion
  • 200 g of short pasta or broken spaghetti


(for the tomato sauce)

  1. Cook the onions in the oil over medium heat until golden brown.
  2. Add the garlic and stir for a couple of minutes.
  3. Pour in the tomato puree. Season with cinnamon, cumin, salt, pepper and chili pepper. Turn up the heat and let simmer without a lid until the sauce is thickened (about 15-20 minutes).

(for the koshari)

  1. Cook the rice and lentils in two different pans. The lentils will take about 20-30 minutes (they should just simmer on low heat) to soften. When they are ready, drain them with a skimmer saving the cooking water. Pour them into a bowl with the vinegar, cumin and garlic powder.
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook them until golden brown. Add more oil, if necessary, until they are evenly colored. Drain and let them dry on a sheet of paper towels.
  3. In the same pan as the onions, pour in the pasta. Let it toast for a few seconds. Pour over the liquid from the lentils and finish cooking.
  4. Compose the koshari by dividing the ingredients into 8 bowls. One layer of rice, one layer of noodles, some fried onions, a spoonful of lentils. Season with tomato sauce and top with more onions.
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