27 Aug 2021

By Michelle Tan

A plate of food against a white background.
A plate of Koshary – a famous Egyptian dish. Photo: Adobe Stock.

Wandering along the streets of Cairo, the distinct sound and sight of Egypt’s national dish – Koshary, can be easily recognised. Food vendors swiftly ladle ingredients from large pots as their metal spoons knock against serving bowls. This humble dish is made from inexpensive pantry staples but provides warm comfort that makes you crave for more!


Crispy Onion Pieces

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

A pinch of salt

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Cooking oil

Zesty Tomato Sauce

2 Tbsps cooking oil

1 medium onion

5 cloves of garlic

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

750g tomato passata sauce

2 Tbsps white vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste


400g cooked chickpeas

2 cups of elbow pasta

1 1/2 cups of green or brown lentils

1 1/2 cups of medium-grain rice, soaked in water for 20 minutes.

1/2 tsp ground coriander

Cooking oil

3 cups of warm water


Crispy Onion Pieces

  1. Sprinkle the sliced onions with salt.
  2. Toss in flour and shake off excess flour.
  3. Fry onions over medium heat until they are nicely brown and caramelised.
  4. Drain from oil and set aside.

Zesty Tomato Sauce

  • Mince the onion and garlic separately.
  • Heat cooking oil and cook the onions until it starts to turn golden brown.
  • Add the minced garlic and spices and saute until the garlic turns golden brown.
  • Stir in the Tomato Passata Sauce and add a pinch of salt.
  • Simmer the sauce over low heat until it starts to thicken (about 15 minutes).
  • Add the white vinegar and remove it from the fire.


  1. Rinse and cook the lentils in 4 cups of water over high heat. When it comes to a boil, turn the heat to low, leaving it to cook for another 13 minutes. The lentils should only be partially cooked.
  2. Drain the lentils and season with a pinch of salt.
  3. Drain the rice from its soaking water and put the rice in a clean saucepan with seasoned lentils.
  4. Add in 2 Tbsps cooking oil, ground coriander, salt, and pepper, and stir regularly for 3 minutes.
  5. Add in 3 cups of warm water and bring to a boil. Cover the saucepan and cook for 15 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. Check that the rice is well cooked. Remove from heat and keep the saucepan covered and undisturbed.
  6. In a different saucepan, place the elbow pasta in water, salt, and a few drops of oil. Cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  7. To serve, fluff the rice and lentils and place them on your serving dish. Layer the dish with the elbow pasta and chickpeas. Pour on 1/3 of the zesty tomato sauce and garnish with some of the crispy onions. The rest of the sauce and onions should be served at the table according to taste preferences.