Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (2024)

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Koshari (also spelled kushari and koshary) is the national dish of Egypt made with brown lentil rice, spicy tomato sauce, pasta, and crispy onions. It's popular Egyptian street food, and it hits the spot. This Egyptian koshari recipe is a family recipe and the best I've ever had.

Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (1)

If you are ever visiting Egypt, I recommend trying ful medames, mulukhiyah with roz, and koshari (of course)!

What Is Koshari?

Koshari is a hearty vegan meal made with lentil rice, pasta, chickpeas, vinegar tomato sauce, and topped with crispy thin fried onion rings.

What I Love About This Recipe

This meal is delicious! However, the thing I love the most about this recipe is it's perfect for batch cooking and meal prepping. It reheats extremely well, so it's one of my favorite meals to prepare ahead of time. It takes some time to make, but it's worth it!

Why This Koshari Recipe Is The Best

Many koshari recipes only have a cooked red vinegar sauce. However, this recipe has two types of red sauce: a fresh red sauce and a cooked vinegar red sauce. This recipe has been perfected over a lifetime, and the fresh red sauce is the secret sauce.

Ingredient Notes

Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (2)
  • Rice: Use Egyptian rice (also known as Calrose short-grain rice).
  • Brown Lentils: I recommend using brown lentils for the right koshari experience; however, green lentils can be substituted.
  • Onions: You can use white onion, brown onion, yellow onion, sweet onion, or red onion.
  • Tomatoes: I like to use tomatoes on the vine or Roma tomatoes. Beefsteak tomatoes work just fine. I don't recommend using canned tomatoes in this recipe.
  • Tomato Paste: Any type of tomato paste will do for this recipe.
  • Garlic: I recommend using fresh garlic.
  • White Vinegar: I use distilled white vinegar. I don't recommend using any other type of vinegar because it will change the flavor of the koshari vinegar red sauce.
  • Crushed Red Pepper: Just a pinch of crushed red pepper. Alternatively use ground chili powder or fresh chili pepper.
  • Spices: This authentic Egyptian koshari recipe needs ground cumin, ground coriander, and ground chili powder.
Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (3)
  • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans): I recommend using dried chickpeas; however, canned chickpeas can be substituted to save some time.
  • Pasta: Traditional koshari uses white pasta, but a healthier alternative is whole wheat pasta. In fact, I prefer whole wheat pasta for this recipe when I can find whole wheat spaghetti and whole wheat elbow pasta.
  • Oil: Any type of oil can be used, but my favorite is sunflower oil because it makes the fried onions very crispy. One tip is to use the same oil that was used for frying the onions (after frying the onions) because it's infused with an onion flavor.
Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (4)

How To Make Koshari

This koshary recipe is split into four parts: make the chickpeas and crispy fried onions, blend the fresh red sauce, cook the lentil rice, and make the vinegary sauce. Before getting started, soak the lentils and chickpeas ahead of time for about 3 hours.

Make The Chickpeas and Fried Onions

Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (5)

Boil the chickpeas with cumin while preparing the fried onions.

Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (6)

Once the chickpeas are tender, add a squeeze of lime on top.

Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (7)

Chop the onions into thin circles. Allow the onions tossed in flour to rest for 30 minutes prior to frying.

Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (8)

Sunflower oil yields the most crispy fried onions. Fry the onions in oil until golden brown, then put them on a paper towel lined plate.

Make The Fresh Red Sauce (Optional)

Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (9)

Make the fresh red sauce. Add the bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, garlic cloves, ground cumin, ground coriander, salt, pepper, lime juice, and some oil from the fried onions in a food processor.

Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (10)

Blend on high. Set aside.

Make The Koshari Lentil Rice

Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (11)

Prepare the koshari lentil rice by blending the peeled onion in the food processor.

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Add some oil to a high-rimmed pot and fry the blended onions for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat.

Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (13)

Add the soaked brown lentils and water to the cooked onions. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes, or until the lentils are soft.

Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (14)

Turn down the heat to medium-low and add the rice and more water. Add salt and pepper and mix the rice. Cover and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the rice is steamed. Remove from the heat and keep the rice covered.

Make The Pasta and Koshari Red Vinegar Sauce

Cook the pasta until al dente per the package instructions while making the tomato vinegar chili sauce.

Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (15)

Blend the tomatoes in a blender. Pour the pureed tomatoes into a strainer.

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Use a spoon to press the blended tomatoes through the strainer.

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In a medium saucepan on high heat, add some oil and fry the red pepper flakes (or cayenne pepper) and minced garlic for about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and white vinegar for about 30 seconds.

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Add the strained tomatoes. Stir in the ground cumin, ground coriander, salt, sugar, and ground pepper.

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Boil on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Add a chili pepper if desired.

Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (20)

Assemble your koshari bowl!

How to Assemble the Perfect Koshari Bowl

Because koshari has several parts to it, you might be wondering how to assemble everything. I made the list in order of how you assemble the bowl starting with the bottom-most layer (being the koshari lentil rice).

  1. Koshari lentil rice
  2. Pasta
  3. Cumin chickpeas
  4. Traditional koshari tomato sauce with vinegar
  5. Fresh red sauce (optional)
  6. Crispy fried onions
Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (21)
Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (22)

Tips and Variations

  • I recommend following the steps just as I lay them out in the recipe instructions to save the most time.
  • If using long-grain rice, add a cup more water. Long-grain rice requires more water than short-grain rice.
  • If you want to lighten this recipe up, use whole wheat pasta and reduce the amount of oil used for the koshari rice.
  • Use the oil from the fried onions in other parts of this recipe. This is a tip I've heard from 2 sources to make the most flavorful koshari.
  • Substitute brown rice in lieu of white rice.
Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (23)

The secret to an amazing bowl of koshari is the right portions of each layer. Personally, I go overboard with the fresh red sauce and fried onions. But, experiment for yourself with what you prefer.

Time Saving Tips

Koshari takes time to make, especially if it's your first go around. Here are some time-saving tips:

  • Use canned chickpeas instead of dried chickpeas.
  • Don't make the optional fresh red sauce.
  • Use store-bought passata (strained tomatoes) instead of blending and straining fresh tomatoes.


What to serve with koshari?

Normally, koshari is served as a standalone dish. However, you can add some boiled eggs to the side. Also, a chopped salad goes well with this dish.

How long does it take to make koshari?

Koshari is not difficult to make, but it has a lot of parts. Each part is easy to do, but if you are in a hurry, it can get overwhelming. If you are making this for your first time, block off about 2 hours and 30 minutes to take your time. When you've made koshari a few times, you can cook it in less than 1 hour and 30 minutes. If you have made this meal a lot, you can get it down to an hour.

Middle Eastern Lentil Recipes

Another vegan lentils recipe is this Lebanese lentils and pasta, aka rishta. Or check out Egyptian red lentil soup or mujaddara.

Egyptian Cuisine

Check out the best Egyptian traditional foods, or try some of our favorites below!

  • Egyptian Mahshi Crumb (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)
  • Egyptian Bamia - Okra Stew with Oxtail
  • Egyptian Minced Molokhia with Roasted Chicken
  • Egyptian Spinach With Tomato Sauce
  • Hawawshi - Egyptian Minced Meat Pitas
  • Tameya (Fried Egyptian Falafel)
  • Egyptian Ful Mudammas
  • Khobiza Mallow Leaf Soup

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📋 Recipe

Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (33)

Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had)

Author: Lily

Course: Entree

Cuisine: Egyptian

Prep: 30 minutes mins

Cook: 2 hours hrs

Total: 2 hours hrs 30 minutes mins

4.93 from 28 votes

Print Pin Rate

Servings 8

Koshari is a hearty vegan meal of lentil rice, chickpeas, spicy vinegar tomato sauce, pasta, and fried onions. This Egyptian koshari recipe is an authentic family recipe, and it makes a large quantity. It's perfect for meal prepping or feeding a crowd. It does take a bit of time to make, which is why the serving size is set high (so you can enjoy leftovers).


US Customary - Metric


  • 1 cup dried chickpeas or 2 - 15 ounce cans of chickpeas** See note 3
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ lime

Fried Onions

  • lbs onion about 2 large onions
  • 6 tablespoon flour to toss the onions in prior to frying
  • oil for frying preferably sunflower oil** See note 5
  • salt to taste

Fresh Red Sauce (Optional)

  • 1 lb tomatoes
  • 6 ounces green bell pepper
  • 6 ounces onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oil from the fried onions
  • 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 spicy pepper optional

Koshari Lentil Rice

  • 1 cup dried brown lentils
  • 2 cups dry Calrose rice or short-grain rice **See note 4
  • lbs onion about 1½ large onions
  • 4 tablespoon oil from the fried onions
  • 4 cups water


  • 8 ounces elbow pasta
  • 8 ounces dried spaghetti

Traditional Koshari Red Sauce

  • lbs tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes or cayenne powder optional
  • 9 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper or to taste


Soak Dry Lentils and Dry Chickpeas Ahead of Time

  • Soak the dried lentils and dried chickpeas in water for 3 hours prior to making koshari.

Prepare the Chickpeas

  • See note 3 if using canned chickpeas. Boil the dried chickpeas until semi-cooked (about 45 minutes to an hour). Drain water.

  • Add fresh water and the ground cumin. Boil chickpeas a second time for another 30 minutes.

  • Once chickpeas are cooked, squeeze the lime over the chickpeas.

Fry the Onions

  • Chop the onions into circles. Mix with flour and set aside for 30 minutes prior to frying.

  • Fry in oil, preferably sunflower oil. Using a frying spatula, remove the onions from the oil. Set onto a paper towel and set aside. Salt as desired.

  • Keep the sunflower oil to use some of it in other parts of the recipe.

Make the Fresh Red Sauce (Optional)

  • Blend the tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, and garlic cloves in the food processor.

  • If you would like a spicy sauce, add 1 spicy pepper.

  • Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, oil (from the fried onions), lime juice, salt, and pepper. Blend and set aside.

Make the Koshari Lentil Rice

  • Blend the onions in a food processor.

  • In a high-rimmed stovetop pot, add the oil (from the fried onions). Cook the blended onions slowly on low heat for about 10 minutes.

  • Add the drained brown lentils (these will be about 2.25 cups after being soaked) and water. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes covered, or until they soften.

  • Turn down the heat to medium-low. Add the short-grain rice. Add salt and pepper. Mix the koshari rice and cover. Continue to cook on medium-low heat covered until the rice is tender (about 12 to 15 minutes).

  • Turn off the stove and allow the rice to rest covered for 5 minutes.

Cook the Pasta

  • Boil water and add about 1 tablespoon of salt.

  • Break the spaghetti pasta in half, then break the half again making quarter-size sections of spaghetti. Break about 15 spaghetti noodles at the same time.

  • Add the spaghetti pasta and elbow pasta to the boiling water. Cook the pasta until desired firmness. Drain the pasta and set it aside.

Koshari Vinegar Red Sauce

  • Blend the tomatoes in a blender. Strain tomatoes into a bowl. Mince the garlic cloves.

  • Fry oil (or ghee) with 1 teaspoon chili flakes (or chili powder) for 30 seconds then add the minced garlic cloves.

  • Add the tomato paste and vinegar for about 30 seconds before adding the blended tomatoes.

  • Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, salt, sugar, and ground black pepper. simmer for about 10 minutes.


Cuisinart Cook Set

Food Processor

Chef's Knife

Cutting Board

Knife Sharpener

Magnetic Knife Block


Wire Mesh Strainer



  1. Store koshari rice, pasta, fresh red sauce, koshari vinegar red sauce, fried onions, and chickpeas separately in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  2. Whole wheat pasta is a suitable substitution.
  3. Substitute 2 cans of chickpeas (15-ounce cans) for 1 cup of dried chickpeas. Because canned chickpeas are already cooked, just drain the chickpeas. Boil for 5 minutes in water with ½ tablespoon of ground cumin. Then squeeze ½ a lime on top.
  4. Use Calrose rice, Egyptian rice, or Japanese short-grain rice for this recipe. If using medium or long-grain rice, the water ratio will need to be adjusted.
  5. After frying the onions, save the frying oil. Use some of the frying oil in other parts of the recipe.
  6. The nutrition facts do not factor in the oil from frying the onions.


Serving: 3cups | Calories: 528kcal | Carbohydrates: 90g | Protein: 58g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 161mg | Fiber: 28g | Sugar: 6g

More Authentic Egyptian Recipes

  • The Best Traditional Egyptian Food Dishes
  • Homemade Ashta Cream
  • Pistachio Tahini Halva

About Lily

Howdy! My name Lilian, but my friends call me Lily. I'm the founder and one of the recipe authors here at The Matbakh. I enjoy sunsets, long walks to the fridge, meaningful relationships, and anything related to food. I'm so happy you are here!

Reader Interactions


    Leave A Comment

  1. Heidi

    Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (46)
    If substituting passata for the tomatoes in the cooked tomato vinegar sauce, how much passata do you recommend using? I can't wait to make this, but I will likely need to take that shortcut. 🙂


    • Lily

      That’s an excellent question! I would substitute a 24.5 ounce (700 gram) jar of passata for the 2.2 lbs (1 kg) of fresh tomatoes. Let us know how it turns out


  2. Becky

    Fell in love with this dish in Egypt this month and can’t wait to make it. Question: do we put both the fresh red sauce and the traditional red sauce on or do we choose from the two!?


    • Lily

      Hi Becky, great question! I add both sauces, but the fresh sauce is optional. You will want to make the traditional Koshari red sauce because that’s what makes this dish so yummy!


  3. Dee

    Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (47)
    First I will say that I like your website and I was able to follow you step by step. I love the video with the music! I will try other recipes.
    I am a seasoned cook (mostly Turkish and American food), expecting this to take me around two hours, but this took me three hours to make...I used Passata and didn't use time to blend and press the tomatoes. I am wondering if there are even more ways to cut down the time? I made the lentil rice following the recipe with the exact amount of water, but it was a little crunchy, even after I added more water. This is the first time that I have made lentil rice-any suggestions, or is it supposed to have a crunchy texture? Thank you.


    • Lily

      Hi Dee! First, thank you for taking the time to comment. Koshari has a lot of steps, so great job! The best way to cut down on time is make it a few times, possibly use canned chickpeas, and make the pasta at the same time as the rice.

      So crunchy rice!!! Noooooo!!!! Was the rice or the lentils not fully cooked? I have discovered that some lentils take longer to cook. If it’s the lentils, extend the cooking time before adding liquid. If it’s the rice, make sure you cover the rice, cook it on low and for the full time (that gives the rice enough time to steam). If the rice cooks rapidly, the water will boil off and the rice will not steam and get tender. If the lentil rice was dry, check the rice to water ratio. Short grain rice (calrose or Egyptian rice) is a 1:1 ratio. Thai rice is 1 cup dry rice to 1.5 cups water.

      Hope that helps!!!


  4. Taya

    Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (48)
    I've never had Egyptian food but I love making new recipes. It was delicious!! A definite 'do again. Hopefully someday I can fulfill my dream of going to Egypt and I can see if mine tasted anything like its supposed to. Either way this was delicious


    • Lily

      Thank you so much for the comment Taya! Koshari, Ful, ta’ameya, and molokhia are my favorite Egyptian foods


  5. Janelle

    Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (49)
    Oh boy! This was so delicious, yum! The flavours really meld together nicely. I can't wait to make it again. Thanks for a lovely and easy to follow recipe.


    • Lily



  6. Susan Peloso

    Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (50)
    While living in Cairo, we would go to the Khan-el-kalaile.(please forgive the spelling). After shopping we would go into a shop and have Ohm-Ali. Unfortunately I have not been able to find a recipe that resembles what we had in Egypt. Can you help me find an authentic recipe?


    • Lily

      Susan, Umm Ali is SO good! I really like Cleobuttera's recipe for Om Ali, but I use puff pastry instead of palmiers. Also, ashta is hard to find in the U.S., so I use whipped cream.


  7. Julia

    Egyptian Koshari Recipe (The Best I've Had) (51)
    We made it with canned chickpeas and it was crazy delicious! Cant wait to make it next week again!


    • Lily

      Thank you Julia!


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