Monday, April 14, 2008


Kosheri (also spelled kushari, kosheree, kosheree, kochary, kochari) is an inexpensive, filling, and nutritious Egyptian fast-food dish: layers of lentils and Rice, topped with fried onions -- a layer of pasta, and a tomato sauce are often added. In Egypt, kosheri is sold by street vendors and in specialized kosheri restaurants that serve nothing but . . . kosheri (your choice of small, medium, or large).

  • one pound lentils (brown or black)
  • one to two cups Rice
  • one to two cups elbow macaroni (or similar pasta) (optional)
  • one cup vegetable oil (evenly divided into two portions)
  • one clove garlic, crushed (optional)
  • one hot chile pepper, cleaned and chopped (optional)
  • three or four ripe tomatoes, chopped ; or one large can crushed tomatoes
  • one-half cup water
  • two tablespoons vinegar
  • salt (to taste)
  • one onion, chopped or cut in rings
  • Clean and rinse lentils. Place lentils in large pot. Cover with cold water, such that the water level is one inch above the lentils. Add salt if desired. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender and water is almost completely absorbed (approximately 30 minutes). Add additional water if necessary.
  • While lentils are cooking: Cook rice in normal manner.
  • Prepare sauce while lentils and rice are cooking: Heat oil in large skillet. Sauté garlic and/or chile pepper for a few minutes. Add tomatoes, water, vinegar, and salt. Cook on high heat for a few minutes, then reduce heat and simmer.
  • While lentils and rice are cooking and sauce is simmering: Heat remaining oil in another skillet. Sauté onion until it is done to your liking (either lightly golden, or deeply browned and crispy. When done, remove onion from skillet and drain on absorbent paper or paper towels.
  • While lentils and rice are cooking, sauce is simmering, and onion is sautéing: If macaroni is desired, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook macaroni in the normal manner.
  • When everything is done: Assemble each serving of kosheri in a soup bowl: alternate layers of lentils, rice, and macaroni, then top it all with the fried onions and tomato sauce. Serve with bottled hot chile pepper sauce.
  • Cook the lentils in vegetable stock instead of water.
  • Add a spoonful of cumin to the tomato sauce.
  • Add a layer of cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • Assemble the dish in one large serving dish, instead of individual soup bowls.
  • Cook the lentils, rice, and macaroni together in one large pot, adding them in order such that they are all done at the same time.

Kosheri is an Egyptian version of the Kichri (kitchree, khitcherie) of India, which is always a combination of rice and lentils. Kichri is also the ancestor of the British/Scottish kedgeree which was a culinary byproduct of the British imperial Indian experience.

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