Koshary is a super satisfying Egyptian lentil, pasta and rice street food dish that’s ready and waiting to feed your soul. Bursting with Middle Eastern spices, it’s an aromatic meal that you’ll want to devour every day of the week.
Hey guys, today we’re sharing a spicy little recipe widely considered to be the national dish of Egypt… so you can probably imagine our surprise when we discovered it in Japan. :O
Big thanks to the lovely Sara and Khlood, two incredible ladies from Cairo who were on a mission to study medicine in Osaka, for showing us this recipe.
Once they discovered our love for world food and new and exciting cuisines, they took some time out from their study to show us how to make their mothers’ favourite recipe for Koshary, aka Egyptian Lentil Rice Pasta.
Proud of their city, their culture and their food, they were as excited as we were to get in the kitchen and cook up a storm.
The first road block in our koshary adventure came when it was time to find the ingredients. We went hunting around Osaka to track everything down, but just couldn’t get our hands on any baharat – a Middle Eastern spice blend.
We’ve since learned how to make our own baharat (yessss!), but back then we did what we could, and substituted when required.
Once we jumped into the kitchen there were pots and pans flying everywhere. A flurry of English and Arabic exchanged between the two girls, along with a few quick messages to their mums back in Cairo to make sure the recipe was juuuust right.
So what was it like?
It’s so hard to explain!
Koshary is pure Egyptian street food like you’ve never tasted before.
In just one bowl you’ve got a decent dose of carbs from not one but TWO types of pasta: chewy macaroni + crunchy golden fried angel hair.
Next there are lentils and chickpeas for protein, and a heap of crispy caramelised onions for texture.
Last but not least, your multi-coloured layers of ingredients are finished off with a slathering of… tomato sauce?
But we’re not talking about any plain old tomato sauce here.
We’re talking about a sweet, tangy, smoky and spicy sauce consisting of tomato paste, garlic salt and baharat.
Unfortunately for us we couldn’t find any when we first made this dish in Japan, but we found it on the shelves here in Australia. It’s also super easy to make at home.
Oh yeah. Even now this aromatic mix of flavours is enough to set our mouths watering.
Throughout our travels this particular blend of spices is something we’ve never come across anywhere else.
To put it frankly, it’s a unique sensation on the tongue. You just HAVE to try it to understand. 😛
But let’s get back to the Koshary already!
Even though it’s the national dish of Egypt, this mouth-watering aromatic Egyptian street food has a history that spans across many cultures.
Even the name koshary (sometimes spelled koshari or kushari) comes from the Hindu word khichri, and it’s believed that the love affair for the dish began way back in India before the British brought it to Egypt in the 1800’s.
Blending a mix of inexpensive staple ingredients into an incredibly satisfying dish, it’s not hard to see why koshary became so quickly ingrained in the Egyptian culture. Nowadays you can find it easily at street corner stalls, restaurants and in kitchens everywhere across the country.
The good news is that it’s quick and easy to prepare with ingredients that can be found almost anywhere in the world.
Koshary is even popular with vegans and vegetarians, since the dish can be made completely without animal products. Although our recipe uses butter to fry the angel hair pasta and onions, this can be easily substituted with vegetable oil.
However you decide to cook it, koshary is one awesome dish. You can easily double, triple, or even quadruple the recipe to serve a heap of people like we did in our guesthouse in Osaka – we had enough for 12 hungry people plus leftovers for Sarah and Khlood to take to the hospital the next day for lunch.
Prepare all your ingredients, layer them up, slather in sauce and get ready to dig in.
P.S. If you love the sound of this recipe you may also like our Smoky Beef & Bacon Bolognese which uses smoky paprika, mace AND a handy little ingredient called Liquid Smoke. Afterwards why not cool things down with a glass of Turkish Ayran (salted yoghurt drink).
Have you cooked with baharat before? What did you use it with? Do you have any suggestions, or can you point us in a delicious direction? We’ve set ourselves a new mission to investigate just what else we can cook with baharat, because all we know is we NEED more of this in our lives.
Perhaps we’ll even use it to kick up our Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce recipe. 😉
- 200 g canned lentils drained
- 200 g canned chickpeas drained
- 1 cup macaroni cooked according to packet directions
- 1 cup uncooked long grain rice
- ½ cup angel hair pasta broken into 2 cm lengths
- 2 ½ cups water
- 1 brown onion thinly sliced
- 2 +1 tbsp butter or vegetable oil
- 2 tsp chicken or vegetable stock powder
- Salt to taste
For the sauce:
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 tbsp water
- ½ tsp baharat spice mix
- Garlic salt to taste
- Heat your butter or oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Sprinkle in your angel hair pasta and a pinch or two of salt then stir fry until the pasta transforms into a tantalising golden brown. (Hint hint: It’ll happen real quick!)
- Take off the heat and pop half angel hair pasta aside as your crunchy golden garnish. Return the other half to the heat and add in your rice. Stir fry for a few minutes to start the rice cooking, then pour in 2 cups of water infused with chicken stock powder and stir through. Cook away until all the liquid evaporates (keep stirring every few minutes to cook it nice and evenly).
- Meanwhile heat remaining butter or oil in a separate frying pan (sorry about the dishes) and stir fry your onion slices until crispy and caramelised. Irresistible!
- In a small saucepan (I know, I know, sorry) add your tomato paste, water, garlic salt and oh-so-delicious baharat powder. Heat gently while stirring until the seasonings have melted into the tomato paste. Add more water until you've got a lovely runny textured sauce. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- Alright now back to the rice. Have a taste (it's a super important step) and decide if the rice has cooked through or if it needs longer. Add a little more water and keep cooking if needed until your rice is soft and fluffy. (But definitely not gluggy!)
- Remove from the heat. It's time to assemble your koshary. Huzzah.
- Place your cooked rice and pasta mixture onto a serving tray or plates. Top with lentils, then cooked macaroni, chickpeas, onions, and crispy fried angel hair as garnish.
- Pour over spoonfuls of your mouthwatering baharat infused tomato sauce and serve immediately. You've definitely earned it.