Koshari Recipe: Egyptian comfort bowl of lentils, rice, chickpeas, with a special tomato sauce and savory crispy onions on top! SKIP TO RECIPE
Koshari is a fun word to say, isn’t it?
Koshari (also spelled, Kushari) is the national dish of my birthplace, Egypt. By far one of my favorite things to eat–EVER! No matter how far I’ve traveled, I will always crave a humble bowl of koshari as served in the streets of Egypt.
What is Koshari?
Koshri is another one of those genius solutions to using up pantry staples. It is a cousin to the Middle Eastern Mujadara. In a nutshell, it is a comforting bowl of simple pantry staples: spiced lentils and rice, combined with chickpeas and small pasta. All smothered in a tomato sauce that’s been spiked with vinegar (out-of-this-world tasty, by the way!) Then…wait for it…it’s topped with savory, crispy thin fried onion rings.
Although this koshari recipe takes some time to put together, each element is fairly simple to make.
It may not look like much, but this Egyptian comfort food has every bit a satisfying depth and texture to it. It’ll have you coming back for more!
What to Serve with Koshari?
At home, koshari is served family-style with additional tomato sauce and crispy onion rings to pass! To complete the meal, I typically add a side of this quick 3- ingredient Mediterranean salad dressed simply in olive oil and lemon juice.
For the Crispy Onion Topping
- 1 large onion, sliced into thin rings
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cooking oil
For Tomato Sauce
- Cooking oil
- 1 small onion, grated
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 -1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 28-oz can tomato sauce
- Salt and pepper
- 1-2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
- 1 1/2 cup brown lentils, picked over and well-rinsed
- 1 1/2 cup medium-grain rice, rinsed, soaked in water for 15 minutes, drained
- 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 2 cups elbow pasta
- Cooking oil
- 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed, drained and warmed
Make the crispy onion topping.
- Sprinkle the onion rings with salt, then toss them in the flour to coat. Shake off excess flour.
- In a large skillet, heat the cooking oil over medium-high heat, cook the onion rings, stirring often, until they turn a nice caramelized brown. Onions must be crispy, but not burned (15-20 minutes).
Make the Tomato Sauce.
- In a saucepan, heat 1 tbsp cooking oil. Add the grated onion, cook on medium-high until the onion turns a translucent gold (do not brown). Now add the garlic, coriander, and red pepper flakes, if using, and saute briefly until fragrant (30-45 seconds more).
- Stir in tomato sauce and pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens (15 minutes or so).
- Stir in the distilled white vinegar, and turn the heat to low. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
Make the Koshari
- Cook the lentils. Bring lentils and 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot or saucepan over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook until lentils are just tender (15-17 minutes). Drain from water and season with a little salt. (Note: when the lentils are ready, they should not be fully cooked. They should be only par-cooked and still have a bite to them as they need to finish cooking with the rice).
- Now, for the rice. Drain the rice from its soaking water. Combine the par-cooked lentils and the rice in the saucepan over medium-high heat with 1 tbsp cooking oil, salt, pepper, and coriander. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring regularly. Add warm water to cover the rice and lentil mixture by about 1 1/2 inches (you'll probably use about 3 cups of water here). Bring to a boil; the water should reduce a bit. Now cover and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed and both the rice and lentils are well cooked through (about 20 minutes). Keep covered and undisturbed for 5 minutes or so.
- Now make the pasta. While the rice and lentils are cooking, make the pasta according to package instructions by adding the elbow pasta to boiling water with a dash of salt and a little oil. Cook until the pasta is al dente. Drain.
- Cover the chickpeas and warm in the microwave briefly before serving.
Put it All Together!
- To serve, fluff the rice and lentils with a fork and transfer to a serving platter. Top with the elbow pasta and 1/2 of the tomato sauce, then the chickpeas, and finally 1/2 of the crispy onions for garnish. Serve, passing the remaining sauce and crispy onions separately.
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