Koshary: Quintessentially Egyptian

There really is no particular order to the layering, but I like my onions on top ...
Koshary with lentils, pasta, brown rice and quinoa

Many publications have featured articles about koshary lately – this hilarious one on Gourmet cracks me up every time, and this one on Serious Eats matter-of-factly shares all the repetitive steps in a light-hearted and informative way. Serious Eats must really appreciate the Egyptian palate, because it shared not one – but two great articles about koshary – this one here gives koshary the credit for the fiery Egyptians’ sustenance and energy during the revolution in 2011, when they were able to protest for 18 days straight to topple Mubarak’s repressive regime. Yes, koshary is the gateway to freedom … and this is precisely why it has been appreciated in Egypt for so long!

What is Koshary?

Koshary is the quintessential Egyptian food. Simply put, it’s a bowl of carbs and protein – the Egyptian version of a Chipotle burrito bowl, if you will. Made of affordable base ingredients – rice, lentils and pasta – koshary is often whipped up in huge quantities and served on street side carts and at ‘fast-food’ joints in Egypt. Egyptians from every region and social class enjoy a warm bowl of koshary, though it is eaten more often in college dormitories and in lower-income rural and urban areas. Egyptian Coptic Christians also fast from animal products many times during the year (including Lent), during which dishes like koshary – which is hearty, tasty and filling – are a staple.

How come Egyptians like koshary so much?

Egyptians are a simple people. We like hearty dishes with lots of flavor – and though we are skilled in rolling grape leaves and getting the consistency of beshamel sauce to be just right; most days, we just want to make something easy, especially if we’re having a big party or potluck. The best thing about koshary is the mixture of flavors – particularly the vinegary, garlicky (and often spicy) red sauce and the crunchy fried onions that go atop the dish when the base ingredients have been mixed. You want to know a secret? The fried onions really make the flavors in this dish come to life (so don’t get impatient with the cooking time!).

Our Versions of Koshary

A Healthy Variation on Koshary with Quinoa and Brown Rice

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