Street Food Recipe: Egyptian Koshary

There was a general consensus in the press that as we headed into 2018, street food was going to get a lot more sophisticated. We’re not sure we ever agreed with that; the whole point of street food is that it’s simple, unrefined, easy to understand and easy to eat. What we have seen, though, is that the variety of street food on offer has become more diverse and eclectic.

What you visualize when you think of street food will depend on who you are, where you grew up and what your palette is. It might mean jerk chicken. It might mean rice and noodles. It might even mean a plain old hot dog. We’d like to give you something else to consider; Egyptian koshary.

Koshary, if you’re not familiar, is as fundamental a part of the Egyptian national identity as the Pyramids themselves. It’s eaten morning, noon and night, and on every street corner in every major town and city within the nation’s borders. Eating koshary should transport you within your mind to the sights and sounds of the Egypt of old. It is to the Egyptians what fish and chips is to the British.

If all this talk of Egypt is making you pine for the place, there are a few things you could do about it. You could watch an Egyptian themed movie, for example. ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ would be a good choice, or ‘Death on the Nile’. You could visit Egyptian themed online casino such as and play any one of their Egyptian themed slot games; many of which are based around historical Egyptian characters, and feature authentic Egyptian music. Is there a better way to explore history than doing it in a manner you might win money from, after all? Cleopatra and Tutankhamun both have their own dedicated slot games there. We’ll leave it to you to decide whether she looks better in the game or in the movie!

If neither of those options are speaking to you, why not have a go at making Egyptian koshary yourself at home? We have all the information you need right here, and it’s not that hard to make!

What You’ll Need:

In order to make koshary Egyptian style, you’ll need the following ingredients:-

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil; 4 tablespoons of salt; 2 cups of white rice (uncooked), 3 cups of water; 3 tablespoons of white vinegar; 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper; 2.5 teaspoons of ground cumin; 0.25 teaspoons of cayenne pepper; 1 packet of macaroni; 1 cup of soaked lentils; half a cup of tomato paste; 2 minced cloves of garlic; 5 minced onions and 4 diced tomatoes.

Preparation time will be approximately one hour. Cooking takes around an hour and fifteen minutes, and you should come out with enough koshary for 12 servings.

How To Make Koshary

Step One

Heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a saucepan, on high heat. Stir in the rice, taking time to ensure they’re all coated in oil. That should take a couple of minutes. When you’re happy the rice is properly coated, add in all your cups of water, and one teaspoon’s worth of salt. Bring the whole thing to boil, and as soon as it starts, turn the heat back down to a low setting and cover the pan.

Now, leave the pan to simmer for a further 25 minutes; by which time the rice should be tender, and all of the liquid should have been absorbed. Check that this is the case before continuing. If it isn’t, allow more time.

Step Two

Put the macaroni into another pot or pan, add water and half a teaspoon of salt, and boil it for somewhere between 8 and 10 minutes to taste. The pasta should be al dente when you’re done. Strain the pasta, put it back in its pot, cover it and put it aside.

Step Three 

Put the lentils in water and let them soak for half an hour. Drain them and rinse them thoroughly. Measure out two more cups of water, put them in a pot with the lentils, and boil the lentils. Once boiling, lower the heat back down again and allow to simmer for approximately twenty minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Add another half teaspoon of salt in for seasoning.

Step Four

Take a large frying pan, add your remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil into it, and heat it up. When it’s warmed up, pour on your onions and cook on high heat until the onions begin to brown. This should take no more than ten minutes. Once they’ve begun to brown, add in the garlic, and cook for one more minute before draining the mixture onto a paper towel.

Step Five

Take exactly the mixture you created in Step Four, put it into another saucepan, and add in the tomatoes, the tomato paste, the vinegar, the pepper, the remaining salt, the cumin and the cayenne pepper. Be careful with the cayenne pepper. Although cayenne is considered to be quite a mild spice in Egypt, it’s still pretty hot by Western standards. The Egyptian palette is a little better trained at dealing with spice heat than ours is! If spice doesn’t sit well with you, don’t allow your meal to be ruined by adding too much; or any at all; into the mixture. If in doubt, go with too little rather than too much! When everything’s in there, bring it to boiling point. If everything has gone to plan, the mixture should now have a thick consistency, like sauce. If it seems closer to a paste than a sauce, add in half a cup of boiling water to dilute it down. When you’re happy, reduce the heat down to low, and let it simmer for a further fifteen minutes.

Serving Time!

The suggested way to serve an individual portion of koshary is to take a small bowl, and layer in the food. That means one serving spoon of rice, followed by one serving spoon of macaroni, then one serving spoon of lentils, followed by the rest of your mixture. Some people also add tomato sauce to taste.


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