A Variation on Koshary with Quinoa and Brown Rice


‘Healthier’ koshary with quinoa and brown rice

What makes this version of koshary a tiny bit healthier?

We already warned you that this meal is carb overload, but if you’re working out or maintaining an active lifestyle, you will get hungry even after consuming a bowl of koshary. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, koshary is a great meal for those days when you need a little bit of protein and an extra dose of starch to keep you full and warm during cold winter months. Most Egyptians make koshary with white rice – which is nutritionally inferior to brown rice. In this version, I have substituted the white rice with brown rice and have added one of my favorite new ingredients, quinoa.

What is Quinoa?

If you’ve never heard of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), it is a highly nutritious seed from South America. Called the “gold of the Incas,” quinoa is usually thought of as a grain, although it is actually a seed from the same family as spinach and Swiss chard (WH Foods). Quinoa has a very mild, slight nutty flavor, which makes it a great substitute for rice or couscous – and works perfectly for both savory and sweet dishes. Quinoa, hailed for its excellent nutritional profile, is an exceptional source of protein, containing all eight essential amino acids and is high is iron, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins and fiber. Yes, I’m about to make your koshary recipe that much healthier! Also – great fact about quinoa: it’s gluten-free so can be substituted for the pasta if you can’t have wheat.

Koshary with Quinoa and Brown Rice

by Heba

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Keywords: fry boil entree vegetarian vegan sugar-free soy-free nut-free

Ingredients (6-8 people)

    For the Tomato and Garlic Sauce

    • ½ tablespoon sunflower oil, refined coconut oil, or sustainable palm oil
    • 1 yellow onion, blended
    • 5-6 cloves garlic, chopped and crushed
    • 2 cans organic tomato sauce
    • ½ cup water
    • ¼ cup white wine vinegar – or substitute for regular vinegar
    • a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper (super spicy – be careful!)

    For the Koshary

    • 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
    • 1 cup dried green or brown brown lentils
    • 2 cups elbow macaroni, or any other compact pasta shape (for gluten-free, you may use rice pasta or skip the pasta)
    • ½ cup brown rice, soaked
    • ½ cup quinoa, soaked
    • 4 cups filtered water
    • 3 cardamom pods
    • ½ teaspoon whole cumin
    • ½ teaspoon whole coriander
    • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil, refined coconut oil, or sustainable palm oil
    • – for frying onions
    • 4 ½ tablespoons olive oil
    • 1-2 bay leaves
    • pinch of asafoetida powder (optional – for the lentils)
    • salt and black pepper, to taste

    Cooking Directions

    Koshary is the perfect dish for a natural multi-tasker in the kitchen! These steps are in fact not steps at all, but things to be done simultaneously. Mutlitasking will cut down your cooking time considerably, because all the components are cooked separately anyway.

    (1) Soak the rice and quinoa. To make these whole grains more digestible, it’s best to rinse and soak them in warm water overnight, with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or whey.

    (2) Fry the onions. Though it is the last topping to go on the koshary, start with this one, because the onions take a very (… very) long time to cook … unless you can settle for soft caramelized onions or burnt ones (neither has the same effect). Slice 2 onions thinly and add to oiled skillet. Stir to coat in oil and leave on medium-low heat for 40 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until starting to crisp and get golden brown.

    Fried Onions

    (3) Cook the lentils.  Add 2 cups filtered water to 1 cup of dried lentils and bring to a boil. Add pinch of asafoetida powder (optional) and lower to medium heat. Cook for 35 minutes or so, or until lentils are mashable. Add salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix well.

    Cooked brown lentils

    (4) Cook the quinoa and rice. In a separate oiled pot, add ½ cup brown rice and ½ cup rinsed quinoa. Turn heat on to medium-high; add salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, and cardamom pods and stir well. Add 2 cups filtered water, stir, and bring to a boil. Then, cover and leave to cook for about 20 minutes on low temperature, until water has evaporated.

    (5) Cook pasta (optional step). Add salted water to 2 cups of elbow pasta and bring to a boil. Cook on medium-high for 9-10 minutes, until al dente texture is reached. Remove from water promptly (so it doesn’t get stick together); add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix well.

    Steamin’ hot pasta ready to be mixed into the koshary

    (6) Make the savory tomato-based sauce. Chop and grind 1 onion. Crush 5-6 cloves of garlic and sauté with onion in oiled skillet on medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and simmer until thickened (should take about 7-10 minutes). Add 1 cup of water and ¼ cup of white wine vinegar, and turn the heat to high. As soon as it starts boiling, turn the heat off and add spices: little salt, black pepper, and tiny pinch of cayenne (this stuff is potent!).

    The key is in the sauce

    (7) Layer it all. I like to have the pasta on the bottom, brown rice and quinoa mix in the middle, and lentils on top. Make sure to remove the water from the lentils before you add to the mix (so it doesn’t get soggy!)

    I like my onions on top, but there really is no rule about it when it comes to layering

    (8) Add the sauce and onions on top. Do this right before serving or leave both as side dishes so each person can add the amount according to her or his preference.

    The final presentation of a hearty Egyptian meal

    And voila! When you make this, you’ll feel Egyptian to the core … well, depends on how big of a pinch of cayenne you added! 😉


    3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

    1. Koshary: Quintessentially Egyptian | mideats.com
    2. Molokhia Recipe: A Meal Fit for a King | mideats.com
    3. Interview: Ameirah's Cairo-based blog + her recipe for Biscuit au Chocolat | mideats.com

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.


    Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

    CommentLuv badge