Kushari (Egyptian Meal)

If you walk the streets of Egypt, you will find many street-sellers selling kushari, or koshary (too many spellings, but I believe ‘kushari’ is the most frequently used in the English language so I’ll stick with that). Kushari is a genuine Egyptian meal that actually used to be considered a poor man’s meal because of how inexpensive it is (since it doesn’t contain any meat). However, it’s no longer considered a low-class dish because now people of all standards in Egypt enjoy this hearty meal. I thought this meal especially would be fitting to share, not only because it’s delicious, but also since the revolution had been shared by the poor as well as the rich.

Kushari consists of four things:

  1. Lentils + Rice
  2. Macaroni
  3. Garlic Vinegar Tomato Sauce
  4. Fried Onion Topping

It must be in this order for it to be kushari! :)

This was surprisingly my first time making it (though my trillionth time eating it), and I was surprised at how easy it was! This meal will have you using all 4 spots of your stove. It requires 2 pots (one for the macaroni layer and one for the lentil layer), 1 saucepan (for the sauce), and 1 frying pan (for the onion topping). And if you use your time wisely (like cutting and frying the onions for the topping while you’re waiting for the lentils to cook), you can probably finish this entire meal within an hour.

You should also know that a small hill of onions is involved for the onion topping…

Yup. Many tears were shed during the making of this kushari. But if you have a fan in the kitchen and turn it on medium-high speed, you won’t tear up as much. I thought of that mid-cutting and it worked like a charm.

If any of you want a taste of Egypt, you should make this meal without hesitation. And don’t forget the order! :)

Kushari Recipe (adapted from Miss Anthropist’s mom :D )
Serves about 8 people, so you can either halve this recipe for your family or eat it for dinner twice in one week…which I’d totally recommend.

Lentil Layer

  • Bag of lentils (maybe a cup and a half?)
  • 1 and 1/2 cup rice
  • 5 to 6 cups of water
  • 1/2 to 1 cup Filini (it’s called shi’riyya in Arabic. It’s a short thread-like pasta…if you don’t have, it’s alright)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: Red pepper flakes (if you want some spice, but not too much)
  1. Put 6 cups of water in a large pot and add about 1 tablespoon of cumin. Boil the water and then add lentils. Close lid and leave it boiling for about 15-20 minutes (Note: While you’re waiting, you should peel and cut onions for the fried onion topping. Directions below)
  2. After the lentils are half-cooked, add rice and stir. Reduce heat to medium-low and leave until rice is cooked, about 20 minutes, and then turn off heat. (Note: If you have already finished peeling and cutting onions, you should begin frying to save time, since it takes about 10-15 minutes per frying and you will have to do it in intervals)
  3. In another small pan, fry the filini until golden brown. Add it to cooked rice and lentils. Add salt and pepper to the mixture.

Macaroni Layer

  • Macaroni (preferably a small kind, like elbow macaroni or ditalini)
  • Salt
  • Water

Prepare macaroni as instructed on your box until al dente.

Garlic Vinegar Sauce

  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 and 1/2 or 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 cans of tomato sauce (or paste)
  • Water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red pepper flakes (to spice taste…perhaps a teaspoon?)

In a skillet on medium-high, heat garlic with some vegetable oil for a minute or 2. Add tomato sauce and then add vinegar. Add as much water as desired (depending on how thick you want the consistency to be), and stir. Stir on heat for a few minutes, until it boils.

Fried Onion Topping

  • 4 or 5 large onions, peeled and cut into rings or strips (not diced). You can cut more if you’d like.
  • Salt
  • Flour (just lightly coat the onions with it)
  • Vegetable oil (for frying)

Add salt and flour to cut onions. In a frying pan add vegetable oil and on medium-high, fry (you can add some minced garlic if you wish) as many onion rings and strips in pan as possible (you will probably fry 4 or 5 times total) for 10-15 minutes until deep golden brown. If you want them a little crispier, leave on heat for a minute or two but try not to burn it.

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30 Responses to Kushari (Egyptian Meal)

  1. Lean.Bean says:

    YUM! I lovelovelove kushari! The fried onions are my favorite part. :)

  2. Stevie says:

    I’ve never heard of kushari but it sounds really good and fairly easy to make. I’m going to try it sometime soon. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. This dish looks very interesting and tasty! Thanks for sharing it!

  4. I have never tried this dish, but it looks delicious and interesting combination of staples. Very nice :)

  5. Simply Life says:

    WOW! I am so impressed! This looks absolutely delicious and your photos are amazing! Thanks for sharing – it’s definitely going to be my next Egyptian meal! :)

  6. Malar Gandhi says:

    Wow, that looks downright delicious…makes one very hungry.

  7. Tanvi says:

    I love knowing about different cultures and foods.And what can be better thing to learn than street food.Thats the crux of citylife! I love the spread but I m biased towards lentils and onions..very delish looking!

  8. sophia says:

    I’ve never heard of kushari before, but now I have. The things you learn from food blogs…I love it.

    I wish I could walk down the streets of Egypt myself, and pay for a wonderful street-side meal like this…

  9. I love this combo, sounds interesting and yummy! Must try this sometime….

  10. Sweet Artichoke says:

    A very delicious-looking kushari! and a very nice blog that I have just discovered :-)

  11. Faith says:

    Your mom’s recipe looks wonderful! Mmm, the friend onions are my favorite part. ;)

  12. Megan says:

    Sounds like an interesting combo that I will have to try! I love lentils and this sounds llike such a yummy way to eat them!

  13. oneordinaryday says:

    One of the things I love about your blog is that I always learn something new. This dish sounds great. With that pile of caramelized onions, how could you go wrong?

  14. I totally bookmarked this =) It looks SO good! and its so flipping unique from dishes I normally make — I heart it! <3 the ingredients are fantastic!

  15. Mary says:

    This really sounds interesting, particularly the onion layer which must add great flavor. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  16. Victoria says:

    Sold! This is totally up my alley, and although I’ve never heard of it, it’s definitely something I’d love to try!! I’m willing to dirty a few extra pans to make something that looks as good as this. Thanks so much to you and your mom for sharing this special recipe with us!

  17. Joanne says:

    I love the symbolism behind this dish! Thanks so much for sharing it. I love egyptian food but it’s hard for me to tell whether what I’m eating is authentic or not. Now I feel like I’ve got it straight from the source! Delicious.

  18. I would love to try this! It sounds like a delicious combination of flavors. Your photos are gorgeous!

  19. One of my wishes was to taste kushari in Egypt! Hopefully soon; your version is authentic and beautiful.

  20. Sounds fantastic – I can understand why everyone enjoys it now.

  21. Mishmisha says:

    Bil hana wil shifa! You are making me miss home!!! I saw a link to your blog through somebody on twitter :) Ta7ya Masr!

  22. Pingback: Three Girls, Two Mochi Cakes and One World Thinking Day « Sweet And Crumby

  23. Sally says:

    Interesting to see how you cooked your pasta first. The recipe I used was slightly different. You have to try this dish to understand how absolutely delicious some quite humble ingredients can be – the pile of onions on top in your pics makes me want to dive in right now.

  24. Pingback: May 2013: Egypt - Access 2 Interpreters - Access 2 Interpreters

  25. Samantha says:

    What can you use as a sub for the pasta? Is macaroni okay?

  26. Willa says:

    I truly love your website.. Great colors & theme.

    Did you build this amazing site yourself?
    Please reply back as I’m planning to create my own personal site and want to
    find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named.

    Thanks!

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