Koshari (Egyptian Lentils, Rice & Pasta)


This kitchen-sink of a vegetarian dish was most likely invented in Egypt in the mid-1800s when Cairo was a major multicultural trade port, which could explain the similarities to Italian spaghetti as well as the Indian rice-and-lentil comfort food khichdi. Three toppings--a spicy tomato sauce (shatta), crispy onions and a garlicky vinegar (dakka)--are added to the koshari before serving, but in Cairo most people like them in separate bowls so they can season their bites one at a time. (Recipe adapted from Zooba Restaurant.)

Prep Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
45 mins
12 cups



  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil

  • 1 ⅓ cups long-grain brown rice, such as brown basmati

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • ¾ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper

  • 2 ⅔ cups water

  • 4 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti

  • 1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added brown lentils, rinsed

  • 1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed


  • 2 cups diced tomatoes

  • ½ cup chopped onion

  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

  • 6 tablespoons ground cumin

  • ¾ teaspoon salt

  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper

  • 1 ⅓ cups water

  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Fried Onions

  • 1 ½ cups sunflower oil

  • 1 cup sliced white onion

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • Pinch of salt


  • ¾ cup water

  • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon salt


  1. To prepare koshari: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 2 teaspoons cumin, 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 2 2/3 cups water and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook until the rice is tender, about 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare shatta: Combine tomatoes, chopped onion, sliced garlic, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 6 tablespoons cumin, 3/4 teaspoon salt, pepper and 1 1/3 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to maintain a lively simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in red-wine vinegar and cayenne.

  3. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Break spaghetti into 1- to 2-inch pieces and cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.

  4. To prepare fried onions: Heat oil in a large skillet to 350 degrees F. Toss sliced onion with cornstarch in a medium bowl. Add half of the onion to the oil and cook until golden, about 6 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining onion. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

  5. To prepare dakka: Combine water, white vinegar, minced garlic, cumin and salt in a blender; puree for 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl.

  6. Transfer the shatta (tomato mixture) to the blender and puree until smooth.

  7. Gently stir the spaghetti and lentils into the rice. Serve the koshari topped with chickpeas, the shatta, fried onions and dakka.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

350 Calories
12g Fat
53g Carbs
11g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 350
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 53g 19%
Dietary Fiber 10g 36%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 11g 22%
Total Fat 12g 15%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Vitamin A 524IU 10%
Vitamin C 9mg 10%
Folate 95mcg 24%
Sodium 674mg 29%
Calcium 84mg 6%
Iron 4mg 19%
Magnesium 42mg 10%
Potassium 308mg 7%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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