Dinner/ Recipes/ Side Dish

Sara & Khlood’s Koshary Egyptian Lentil Pasta Rice

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.

Koshary Egyptian Lentil Pasta Rice - The satisfying street food that feeds your soul. Bursting with middle eastern spices, it's an aromatic meal that you'll want every day of the week. Vegetarian. | wandercooks.com

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.

(In a rush? Click here to jump straight to the recipe!)

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.

Koshary Egyptian Lentil Pasta Rice - The satisfying street food that feeds your soul. Bursting with middle eastern spices, it's an aromatic meal that you'll want every day of the week. Vegetarian. | wandercooks.com

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?

Wait, what?

Koshary Egyptian Lentil Pasta Rice - The satisfying street food that feeds your soul. Bursting with middle eastern spices, it's an aromatic meal that you'll want every day of the week. Vegetarian. | wandercooks.com

Yep.

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. 😛

Koshary Egyptian Lentil Pasta Rice - The satisfying street food that feeds your soul. Bursting with middle eastern spices, it's an aromatic meal that you'll want every day of the week. Vegetarian. | wandercooks.com

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.

Koshary Egyptian Lentil Pasta Rice - The satisfying street food that feeds your soul. Bursting with middle eastern spices, it's an aromatic meal that you'll want every day of the week. Vegetarian. | wandercooks.com

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.

Koshary Egyptian Lentil Pasta Rice - The satisfying street food that feeds your soul. Bursting with middle eastern spices, it's an aromatic meal that you'll want every day of the week. Vegetarian. | wandercooks.com

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. 😉

Koshary Egyptian Lentil Pasta Rice - The satisfying street food that feeds your soul. Bursting with middle eastern spices, it's an aromatic meal that you'll want every day of the week. Vegetarian. | wandercooks.com
5 from 4 votes
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Sarah & Khlood's Koshary Egyptian Lentil Pasta Rice

Koshary Egyptian Lentil Pasta Rice - The satisfying street food that feeds your soul. Bursting with middle eastern spices, it's an aromatic meal that you'll want every day of the week.

Recipe Type Dinner
Cuisine Egyptian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Author Wandercooks

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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!)
  2. 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).
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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!)
  6. Remove from the heat. It's time to assemble your koshary. Huzzah.
  7. 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.
  8. Pour over spoonfuls of your mouthwatering baharat infused tomato sauce and serve immediately. You've definitely earned it.
Koshary Egyptian Lentil Pasta Rice - The satisfying street food that feeds your soul. Bursting with middle eastern spices, it's an aromatic meal that you'll want every day of the week. Vegetarian. | wandercooks.com

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  • Lisa
    07/01/2017 at 11:15 am

    Made this today and it tasted exactly like the meal I had at the farmer’s market. Thanks for sharing.
    Awesome dish.

    • Wandercooks
      09/01/2017 at 8:31 am

      Wow Lisa that’s fantastic! So pleased to hear. That’s the best part about cooking in our opinion, being able to relive those amazing memories from worldly adventures. We’re definitely going to have to cook this one again soon too!

  • Emily
    27/05/2016 at 12:15 pm

    This recipe looks very good, but since it contains chicken stock, it’s not vegetarian. Since I’m vegetarian I’ll try to make this with mock chicken stock but I’m not sure if it’ll taste as good as it should…

    • Wandercooks
      27/05/2016 at 1:34 pm

      Hi Emily! Thanks for pointing that out, you’re absolutely correct. Vegetable stock will be fine, we’ll update the recipe to include that info. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

  • Doreen Jefferson
    25/05/2016 at 11:43 pm

    This looks so delicious! It’s so beautiful when you can share your culture through food this way! I love how they checked in with their mothers to ensure they get the recipe right, I do that all the time with my mom! Thanks for sharing!

    • Wandercooks
      26/05/2016 at 4:05 pm

      It is the best part about being a Wandercook! 😀 We’ve made so many friends and learnt so much about the world, all through cooking and sharing a simple meal. We even had to check in with our own mums a few times! 😛

  • The Food Hunter
    24/05/2016 at 12:39 am

    What a great recipe I can’t wait to try it.

    • Wandercooks
      24/05/2016 at 8:28 am

      Woo thanks, hope you enjoy! 🙂

  • Marisa Franca @ All Our Way
    23/05/2016 at 9:22 pm

    I love tasting new cuisines. This sounds amazing — I wish you could send me a sample. It looks like it makes quite a bit. I’ll just have to whip up a batch and plan on several meals. Thank you for sharing.

    • Wandercooks
      23/05/2016 at 9:24 pm

      Yep, you’re not wrong – this does make up quite a batch! We’re not sad to say it’s even BETTER the next day! 😀

  • Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy
    23/05/2016 at 7:54 pm

    I love rice, as it is such a staple, but it can get boring. You have shown a great way to jazz it up a bit. Yum!

    • Wandercooks
      23/05/2016 at 8:04 pm

      Rice is the best isn’t it? So satisfying, versatile and delicious because it soaks up all the flavour of whatever you cook it in!

  • lalaine
    23/05/2016 at 5:59 pm

    It’s always fun to spend the day with food and friends. Thanks for the recipe, would love to try it, if I can find all the ingredients 🙂

    • Wandercooks
      25/05/2016 at 9:49 am

      Fingers crossed! If you can’t find baharat you can always try making your own! 🙂

  • Patricia @ Grab a Plate
    23/05/2016 at 12:33 pm

    A bunch of great ingredients in one dish! Ahhh-maz-ing! Looks like you and your friends had a lot of fun putting it together, too! The caramelized onions are the kicker for me — over the top!

    • Wandercooks
      23/05/2016 at 8:02 pm

      Oh they are definitely good, but we totally can’t go past the crispy fried pasta – so different. It’s such a fun dish, as much to eat as it was to cook!

  • [email protected]
    23/05/2016 at 12:26 pm

    Would love to prepare it. Never prepared tomato sauce at home. Will give it a try. Nice recipe.

    • Wandercooks
      23/05/2016 at 8:00 pm

      Thanks! It is totally worth it. Hope you have fun and enjoy. 🙂

  • Beth @ Binky's Culinary Carnival
    18/05/2016 at 2:43 am

    I’ve never had Baharat. Do you know what spices it consists of? I’ve never seen it. I would love to try to make it. I love new spice blends!

    • Wandercooks
      18/05/2016 at 11:35 am

      Hey Beth, we’ll be spilling the beans on this magic formula tomorrow – it’s definitely a must-try!

  • Kate @ VeggieDesserts
    18/05/2016 at 2:18 am

    This sounds amazing. I love trying international street foods! I have some baharat, so this will be on my family’s menu next week.

    • Wandercooks
      18/05/2016 at 11:34 am

      Fantastic! Hope you guys enjoy! Oh and so do we, but when you can’t get out on those streets it’s so fun to be able to make your own at home. 😀

  • Trish
    17/05/2016 at 10:59 pm

    WHOOOOAA! This is awesome! I’ve never heard of this, but it sounds like my dream meal! So wait… pasta, FRIED pasta, AND rice??? OMG. Love this.

    • Wandercooks
      18/05/2016 at 11:32 am

      Haha, your reaction is exactly the same as ours when we first heard about this dish! We couldn’t even begin to imagine the flavour combination, but it totally works. (Not going to lie, that fried pasta is possibly our favourite ingredient 😛 )

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