Kushari (Egyptian Macaroni-and-Rice)

Kushari is one of the most popular street food dishes in Egypt. It is a mixed rice-dish with macaroni, lentils and chickpeas. Say what? Yes. We were sceptical too. But after you take one bite of this seemingly strange dish, the combination all of a sudden wíll make sense. Promise.

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Egyptian Kushari

What is Kushari?

A base of rice, lentils and macaroni with a hot tomato sauce and fried onions on top. Sounds weird? We thought so. But those are the ingredients that traditionally add up to Kushari, an Egyptian dish that is served in practically every food stall and restaurant in Egypt. More often than not completed with additional chickpeas. And when traditionally prepared, completely plant-based. 

A uniques mix of cuisines

Kushari is related to an Indian dish called Khichdi. But whereas Khichdi has to satisfy its eaters with only lentils, rice and spices, thanks to Italian influence, Kushari pushes food imagination to the limit by adding macaroni and tomato sauce to the mix.

A hot steamy plate of Kushari feels like a guilty pleasure, because of all the different types of carbohydrates. But when you look a little bit closer, independently the ingredients are actually all part of a balanced diet. Even the sauce is rather ‘clean’, having tomato and onion as its dominant ingredients.

Ingredients

For 3 servings

Kushari uses a variety of ingredients

Ingredients for the Kushari

  • 50 grams of brown rice
  • 50 grams of black lentils
  • 50 grams of macaroni
  • 240 grams of canned chickpeas, drained weight (400 grams net weight) 
  • 1 tablespoon of ground coriander

Ingredients for the cumin sauce

  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped up
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of water

Ingredients for the hot tomato sauce

  • ½ onion, chopped up
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped up
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes
  • 400 grams of canned tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of white vinegar

Ingredients for the fried onions on top

  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 20 milliliter of sunflower oil

Kitchen utensils

  • Cooking pan
  • Saucepan
  • Frying pan

Step-by-step Kushari

Prep: 10 min. | Cook: 40 min. | Total: 50 min.

Making Kushari is not difficult. At all. But it does break down into a couple of seperate components. So, to make things clear, we divided the recipe into 4 step-by-step-instructions, for:

  • the Kuskari
  • the Tomato Sauce
  • the Cumin Sauce
  • the Fried Onions

How to make the Kushari

  1. Soak 50 grams of brown rice for at least 15 minutes. 
  1. Meanwhile, put 50 grams of macaroni in a cooking pan. To make sure that the macaroni does not become one sticky clump of pasta, mix a little bit of oil in the boiling water.
  1. Put the 50 grams of black lentils into another cooking pan with plenty of water. Bring to a boil and let it boil for 15 about minutes. The lentils are then pre-cooked, but not yet completely  done. 
  1. In the meantime make the cumin sauce (see instructions below).

  2. After 15 minutes rinse both the lentils and the rice. Mix together.

  3. Dry the cooking pan and heat up 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
  1. Add the rice, lentils, 1 tablespoon of coriander and some salt and pepper. Keep stirring for 2 minutes.
  1. Add ample water to the mix and bring to a boil. Let it boil for 25 minutes. 
  1. Meanwhile make the tomato sauce and fry the onion (see instructions below).
  1. After 25 minutes, rinse the lentils and rice. 
  1. Heat up the chickpeas shortly in a pan or microwave.
  1. Add the macaroni.

How to make the Tomato Sauce

  1. Heat up 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a saucepan. 
  1. When hot, add the chopped up ½ onion and keep on stirring until the onion becomes translucent.
  1. Add 2 cloves of chopped up garlic, 1 teaspoon of ground coriander and 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes.
  1. Stir for a minute until the spices get fragrant. 
  1. Add the 400 grams of canned, finely chopped tomatoes. Stir well.
  1. Let it simmer for some 15 minutes. 
  1. In the meantime fry the onions.
  1. After 15 minutes, add 3 tablespoons of white vinegar.

  2. Stir and take off the heat.

How to make the Cumin Sauce

  1. In a saucepan, heat up 4 tablespoons of olive oil.
  1. Add 2 cloves of chopped up garlic and a tablespoon of cumin.
  1. Sauté for about a minute, to the point that the garlic is just about to color.
  1. Add 3 tablespoons of water and 3 tablespoons of white vinegar. 
  1. Stir well for a few seconds and take off the heat.

How to make the Fried Onions

When the onions are brown, you're done frying them
The onions are done when they are brown. Take them out before they turn black.
  1. In a frying pan, heat up 20 milliliter of sunflower oil.
  1. As soon as the oil is really hot, add the chopped up ½ onion and 1 teaspoon of salt. 
  1. Stir occasionally and use a skimmer to take out the onions as soon as they are brown.

  2. Put the fried onion on a cloth or paper towel. This will soak out most of the oil. After that, your fried onions are ready to serve.

Serve the rice, lentils, macaroni and chickpeas together with some of the tomato sauce and cumin sauce. Garnish with the fried onions. Leave some tomato sauce and cumin sauce on the side for your dinner companions to add to their liking.

Egyptian Kushari

Summary

Recipe: Kushari (Egyptian macaroni-and-rice) 
Country: Egypt
Prep: 5 min.
Cook: 40 min.
Total: 45 min.
Ingredients: black lentils, brown rice, macaroni, chickpeas, ground coriander, garlic, onion, cumin, canned tomatoes, chili flakes, white vinegar, olive oil  
Type of meal: lunch, dinner

Leave a comment and make our day!

So, we’re curious to know: were you skeptical about this combination of ingredients before making real Egytian Kushari? And how do you feel afterwards? Leave a comment and let us know!

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