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The Best Food In Egypt Is Koshari

Updated on February 27, 2012

What to Eat?

It was a typical busy day in downtown Cairo. After a morning of playing frogger with the millions of fiat cars zooming up and down the well managed roads, i was getting a bit peckish. Now being new to Egypt i wasn't really up to speed on what to and what not to eat. In an era before smart phones and mobile Internet you only had you trusty lonely planet guide book to steer you in the right direction to a decent eating place. I had found myself in front of the central train station and this is where i would meet a man that would change my outlook on food forever. I saw a fellow traveller milling around the front of the station and i asked him if he knew of any good eating places. He directed me to a little workers eatery just around the corner from the station. When i entered the pokey little resturant i could smell the spices cooking. When you entered the building directly to your left was the kitchen. When i say kitchen i mean it was a single cook who sat behind a counter and dished up a wonderful dish called Koshary. You paid one Egyptian pound for a bowl of absolute heaven. You would then sit down with your bowl at a long table with bench seats either side of eat. As most of the places were taken up by workers you had to squeeze in where you could. On the table there was a beaten up metal jug full of water and a single cup, there was also an old bottle full of sauce that i was dying to try. I sloshed some sauce on my dish and i started to tuck in. It was absolutely delicious, then the sauce met my taste buds and i thought my mouth had caught fire. With no other drinks around i had to try my luck on the communal tap water. It cooled my mouth and tasted ok much to the amusment of the locals. Its all i eated while i travelled through Egypt and now i cook it for my kids. Now i bet your wonderering what was in this dish, well read below and i will give you the recipe.

Koshary Recipe


2 cups cooked rice

2 cups cooked penne pasta

2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 teaspoon Ground Cumin , divided

1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder

1 cup cooked lentils

1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper

3 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)

2 medium onions, thinly sliced (about 2 cups), optional*


1. Combine rice and pasta; spoon in bottom of shallow serving platter. Keep warm.

2. Whisk together vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and garlic powder in a medium bowl. Add cooked lentils and stir to combine. Spoon over rice and pasta.

3. Combine tomatoes, water, sugar, cinnamon, salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon cumin and red pepper in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Stir in squash. Spoon tomato mixure over lentil layer. Partially stir tomato mixture into other layers, but do not completely combine all layers. If desired, prepare crisp-brown onions as directed below and add as a topping.

*Cook onions in large skillet with 1 tablespoon oil over high heat, stirring frequently, until brown and slightly crispy, about 10 minutes.


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