Did anyone watch the Oscars a few weeks ago? I was thrilled to see Rami Malek win best actor for Bohemian Rhapsody. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I think Rami is absolutely adorable and his real-life romance with co-star Lucy Boynton makes my heart explode with joy. And that acceptance speech? So touching. I didn’t know Rami was Egyptian. Egypt is a place I’ve always wanted to visit. Someday! Until then, I’ll just continue making this incredibly delicious and satisfying dish.
Koshari, which you might also see spelled Kushari, is the national dish of Egypt. I like to think of it as Egypt’s version of chili mac. The bulk of Koshari is made with chickpeas, lentils, rice, and pasta, and it’s topped with a spiced tomato sauce and crispy onions. Back when it was introduced in the 19th century, Koshari was sold at roadside food carts. I haven’t been to Egypt, but word is that Koshari is on the menu at restaurants all across the country. My first experience with Koshari was at a Middle Eastern restaurant in Chicago called Masada. I instantly fell in love with the combination of textures, flavors, and aromas. Koshari is comfort food at its finest.
The carb party that is Koshari is naturally vegan and very easily made gluten-free with the right pasta. Because there are so many elements to this dish, cooking it the traditional way takes quite a bit of time and uses lots of pots and pans. I cut the cook time WAY down by throwing the rice, lentils, and chickpeas in my Instant Pot. If you don’t have an instant pot, just cook the rice and lentils as you normally would. You can also use a can of chickpeas instead of dried in a pinch. While the Instant Pot is doing its thing, whip up the tomato sauce and crispy onions. The entire dish comes together in under an hour!Print
The carb party that is Koshari is naturally vegan and very easily made gluten-free with the right pasta. Using the Instant Pot reduces the cooking time. Dinner comes together in under an hour!
- 2/3 cup green lentils
- 1 cup short grain brown rice
- ½ cup dried chickpeas (if not using the Instant Pot, use 1 15-oz. can of chickpeas)
- 3 ½ cups of water
- 1 cup gluten-free macaroni (or another small shape pasta)
For the tomato sauce
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1 Tbsp. cumin
- 1 Tbsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. cayenne (optional)
- 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 Tbsp. white vinegar
For the crispy onions
- ½ yellow onion, very thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
Fresh parsley, for serving (optional)
- Rinse the lentils and add them to your Instant Pot along with the brown rice, dried chickpeas, and water. Set to high pressure for 22 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a medium sized saucepan of water to a boil and cook the pasta. Drain, rinse, and transfer the pasta to a bowl. Cover the bowl with a dishtowel to keep the pasta warm.
- To make the tomato sauce, heat a saucepan over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. When hot, stir in the onion. Cook for 5 minutes, and then add the garlic. Cook and stir for 30 seconds before sprinkling in the cumin, paprika, cinnamon, and cayenne (if using). Toast the spices for about a minute and then pour in the tomato sauce and vinegar. Stir the sauce, cover the pot, and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- When the Instant Pot beeps, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes; then carefully flip the quick release valve. Once the pressure gauge goes down and there is no more steam coming out, remove the lid and let the mixture sit uncovered for 5 minutes.
- Finally, make the crispy onions. Separate the thin layers of sliced onion and arrange them in a single layer on some paper towels. Take another paper towel and gently press down on the onions to remove some of the moisture. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. When hot, carefully drop the onions into the oil. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring the onions occasionally at first and frequently towards the end. They should be golden brown and slightly crispy. Keep an eye on them in the last couple of minutes to prevent burning.
- To serve, scoop some of the lentil/rice/chickpea mixture onto a plate. Layer on some of the pasta and ladle the tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle with the fried onions and fresh parsley, if desired.