Foreign Flavors: Egyptian Koshary in Cairo, 2012

After a long, hot day of sightseeing in Cairo followed by the Pyramids’ Light and Sound Show, my grumbling stomach reminded me we had forgotten to eat dinner. Our ever-helpful guide Mohammed offered his recommendation for a restaurant that was only five minutes from our hotel. He told us we absolutely had to try koshary, a very popular Egyptian dish, which is a kitchen-sink kind of recipe. There was rice and pasta with chicken shawerma, dried onions and a tangy but not-too-spicy red sauce. Our eyes bulged when we saw the gigantic size of the portion, but it was so ridiculously tasty, we had no problem eating the entire thing! We washed it down with our new favorites, fresh strawberry and fresh mango juice. Mmmm. An amazing meal that cost us less than $10 was the perfect end to our first day in Egypt.

I wasn’t sure if I could find a recipe online, but there is little that Google cannot find these days. My go-to recipe site,, had at least three. I chose the one with the highest rating. Even better, the chef, Nooney,  is an Egyptian living in the States.

The recipe below is copied from the web site but visit here for the original page. I love since you can change the measurements without having to do the math yourself and potentially wrecking a rather labor-intensive meal!

The koshary that I ate in Cairo had chicken shawerma in it, so I added some to the recipe. I bought boneless chicken breasts, baked them in the oven with some olive oil for 20 minutes or so and then added them in to the mix at the end. You could use beef as well.

2014-08-17 13.55.41
Serving size: 8
1 (14.5 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo
beans), drained and rinsed
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 (16 ounce) package ditalini pasta
1 1/2 cups short-grain rice, rinsed
cold water, to cover
1 1/2 cups dark brown lentils
water, to cover
1 pinch salt and ground black pepper to
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups chicken stock
1 (3 ounce) can French-fried onions

1. Combine the chickpeas, vinegar, coriander, cayenne pepper, and cumin in a resealable bag or container with a tight-fitting lid. Store in refrigerator while prepping remainder of dish, shaking occasionally.

2. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Cook the ditalani pasta in the boiling water until cooked through yet firm to the bite, about 8 minutes; drain and set aside.

3. Combine the rice with enough cold water to cover; allow to soak for 20 minutes. Drain.

4. Meanwhile, combine the lentils with enough water to cover in a pot; season with salt and pepper. Bring the lentils to a boil and cook at a boil until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain.

5. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat; cook and stir the onion and garlic in the hot oil until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, reduce heat to medium-low, and maintain at a simmer while preparing remainder of dish.

6. Melt the butter in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the rice to the butter, increase heat to high, and fry for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour the chicken stock over the rice; bring to a boil. Season the rice mixture with salt and pepper, reduce
heat to low, cover the pot, and cook until rice is tender, and the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.

7. Mix the rice and lentils together on a large serving platter. Spread the cooked ditalani over the rice and lentil mixture. Serve with the marinated chickpeas, the tomato sauce, and the French-fried onions as condiments.


2 responses to “Foreign Flavors: Egyptian Koshary in Cairo, 2012

    • You’re welcome! The first time I made it, it was really tasty. The French fried onions give it a nice crunch. However, my last batch turned out a bit dry, so I hope you have better luck. 🙂

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