Koshari is a popular Egyptian street food consisting of hearty lentils, chickpeas, pasta, rice, warm spices, and deeply caramelized onions. It has made its way to kitchens across the Levant and is considered a staple throughout the region. It is difficult not to like a dish with so many desirable flavors. The ingredients are everything that our minds and bodies ask us for during the winter and early spring. Rich, warm, satisfying, and nutritious altogether.
I like a higher ratio of lentils and chickpeas to rice and pasta. But feel free to adjust the ratios and spices to your liking!
INGREDIENTS/ SERVES 4
1 cup (200 gr.) green lentils, well rinsed
1/2 cup (100 gr.) basmati rice, well rinsed
1/4 cup (60 ml.) olive oil plus more as needed
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
salt, to taste
6 medium roma tomatoes or 1 can chopped tomatoes
3-4 large garlic cloves, crushed, to taste
1 vegetable stock cube or liquid vegetable stock, as needed
1 cup (140 gr.) elbow pasta (macaroni) or ditalini pasta
1 cup (about 200 gr.) chickpeas, canned or cooked
2 generous pinches red chili flakes
dash cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place rinsed green lentils in a small bowl filled with water to soak for at least 30 minutes. Repeat with the basmati rice.
Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat, add sliced onions and a generous pinch of salt, and cook for 30-35 minutes, stirring often, until they are brown and caramelized. After the onions are done, remove them from the pan, and set aside.
Meanwhile, place tomatoes in a pot of boiling water and simmer for 10 minutes – skip this step if using canned tomatoes. Drain the hot tomatoes, fill the pot with cold water, and gently peel them. Chop and set aside.
Fill a medium pot with 6-8 cups of boiling water (plus 1 vegetable stock cube) or use vegetable liquid stock in place of the water and cube. Season with salt and add lentils. Leave to cook for about 25 minutes or until tender. Add the pasta and chickpeas and cook until pasta is al dente (cooked but with a bite.) Drain the lentils and legumes, spoon into a large serving dish, and cover until the rest of the ingredients are ready.
Add an additional 2 tablespoons of olive oil to your pan, cook the crushed garlic for about 2 minutes or until lightly golden, add the chopped tomatoes, stir in 2/3 cups (160 ml) water, 2 pinches dried chili flakes, a dash of cayenne, sugar, salt, and pepper, and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and cooked through. Take off the heat and stir in vinegar.
Lastly, add 1 tablespoon of oil to a medium pot, stir in cumin and cinnamon, cook for 1-2 minutes, add rice, salt, and 1 1/2 cups of water or as needed, and cook until rice is tender. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for another 15 minutes.
Combine the cooked rice with the legumes, pasta, and caramelized onions. Spoon the sauce over the dish, and serve. Top with fresh herbs such as cilantro, if you like.