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Apr 16, 2023

Egyptian Kushari

Kushari (also spelled koshary, koshari, or kushary) is one of the most popular street foods in Egypt. In fact, I've seen it referred to as the national dish of Egypt. 

Egyptian Kushari Servings and Toppings.

Kushari is typically made with layers of rice, two kinds of pasta, lentils, spicy tomato sauce, chickpeas, and topped with crispy onions. 

Usually all of the ingredients are cooked separately, requiring lots of different pots and pans. In this recipe, I tried to combine the rice, lentils, onions, and pasta into one pot (after cooking the pasta), and just use one other pot to make the spicy tomato sauce. I also skipped the layer of chickpeas. 

The last time saving step I made was to use packaged crispy fried onions to top the dish. 

Egyptian Kushari all mixed together in a bowl.

At the kushari street food stands, the "kushari man" dishes up a bowl, one layer at a time, by taking a scoop from each pot. There's supposedly a lot of noise (or "music") because he clangs his spoon against each pot as he moves to the next one. 

Evidently it's rare that people make this dish at home because it is to readily available, and so inexpensive to buy ready-made on the streets. 

Kushari is often served by itself, but you can also serve it with a salad if you like. The dish can be vegan (and usually is) if you skip the butter I used for browning the rice and lentils and switch the chicken stock I used to vegetable stock or water. 

Egyptian Kushari with bowls of topping.

The Tomato Sauce (Shatta):

The tomato sauce is optional, but is delicious dished over the combined pasta, rice, and lentils. 

I actually used a can of Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chiles and spiced it up with onion, garlic, red wine vinegar, cumin, paprika, and ginger to capture the flavors of the region. 

Egyptian Kushari serving in a small bowl.

I was inspired to make this from reading the book, Street Food, by Susan Feniger (published in 2012). She describes exploring the region when she was in high school, and having to travel by bus with her friends with very little money. She describes this as "Egyptian bus stop kushary." 

The recipes in the book are well worth making. 

She skips the tomato sauce layer and adds a tablespoon of harissa to her final dish to capture the flavor. I kept the harissa but still made a spicy tomato sauce, which I totally recommend. She also skips the layer of crispy onions. I loved the crunch and flavor that they added. 

Egyptian Kushari and bowls of toppings on the side.

If you have leftovers, you can easily reheat individual servings in the microwave. 

Ingredient Notes:

While most kushari recipes call for brown lentils, any lentils will do. Lentils are a highly nutritious food, which help make this dish a great lunch or dinner. 

For the pasta, I used salad macaroni (ditalini). Sometimes it is combined with bits of short spaghetti as well. 

I've also seen some recipes that add a layer of cumin and white vinegar sauce (dakka). 

Egyptian Kushari ingredients in bowls ready to assemble.

More Street Food Recipes from the Sunday Funday Group:

Egyptian Kushari in a bowl, layered with the tomato sauce.

Egyptian Kushari Recipe

Egyptian Kushari Recipe
Yield: 8 Servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 30 MinCook time: 1 H & 20 MTotal time: 1 H & 50 M
Kushari (also spelled koshary, koshari, or kushary) is one of the most popular street foods in Egypt. In fact, I've seen it referred to as the national dish of Egypt.


For the Kushari
  • 3 tablespoons neutral oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter (can be replaced by oil)
  • 2 cups chopped yellow, brown, or white onions
  • 1 cup dried brown or green lentils, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup salad macaroni (ditalini)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon harissa
  • Large handful of fresh flat-leafed parsley, chopped
  • 1 Recipe Tomato Sauce (Shatta), optional
  • Crispy fried onions for topping, optional
For the Tomato Sauce (Shatta)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 10-ounce can Ro-Tel tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger or ginger paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves


To Make the Kushari
  1. Heat the oil and butter in a 4 quart sauce pan over medium high heat. Add the chopped onions and cook them for about 8 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the lentils and rise, and cook for five minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Stir in the cumin and two teaspoons of kosher salt and cook for two minutes. Add the stock and simmer over low heat, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Cover and set aside.
  3. Cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions until al dente. Drain.
  4. Heat a 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the drained pasta and cook it, stirring regularly, until the pasta begins to brown a bit, about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the harissa and a pinch of salt to taste. Stir.
  5. Transfer the rice and lentil mixture to a large bowl. Add the pasta mixture as well as the parsley and stir everything together.
  6. Serve warm topped with the tomato sauce and crispy onions.
To Make the Tomato Sauce
  1. In a medium saucepan, add the oil. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until they are tender. Add the garlic and cook for two minutes.
  2. Add the canned tomatoes with their juices and stir. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.

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Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

16.46 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

3.41 g

Carbs (grams)

47.56 g

Fiber (grams)

9.75 g

Net carbs

37.79 g

Sugar (grams)

5.46 g

Protein (grams)

10.65 g

Sodium (milligrams)

494.71 mg

Cholesterol (grams)

7.53 mg
kushari, koshary, lentils
Street Food
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Would you like to comment?

  1. This is a delicious dish, it's our favorite too!

  2. This looks like a tasty bowl of comfort food!

  3. We are in the midst of planning our Egypt trip and are having a meeting here at the house. I think I will make up a big batch of this to serve as we talk.

  4. Karen have heard of kushari but have not tried it as yet. Now I can make it at home as it looks so inviting. Most street food served in Africa, Asia is so much cheaper than making it at home. And must add, super delicious.


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