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Egyptian Kushari

Often called the national dish of Egypt, Kushari is a hearty combination of flavors and textures all topped off with spicy tomato sauce and fried onions.

Often called the national dish of Egypt, Kushari is a hearty combination of flavors and textures all topped off with spicy tomato sauce and fried onions. | www.CuriousCuisiniere.comMiddle Eastern Cuisine: A wealth of flavors

What do you think of when you hear Middle Eastern Cuisine?

Falafel? Hummus?

What about KaftaShakshuka? Or a dish named after it’s cooking vessel: a Tajine?

The Long Middle Eastern History

Digging back to grade school history, I remember learning that part of this region was originally known as the Fertile Crescent, and for good reason. Wheat was first grown here, followed by other crops like barley, pistachios, figs, dates, and pomegranates.

And, they discovered fermentation. So, we couldn’t leaven bread or make beer without their genius!

Because of all this, you will find a lot of wheat, rice, and barley in Middle Eastern dishes. Other common ingredients are lamb, eggplant, and chickpeas.

Often called the national dish of Egypt, Kushari is a hearty combination of flavors and textures all topped off with spicy tomato sauce and fried onions. | www.CuriousCuisiniere.comEgyptian Kushari

Although it’s located on the African continent, Egypt is culturally closer to the Middle Eastern countries, so many times, you will find it listed along side of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the others.

Today, we’re sharing Kushari, a meal that some would call Egypt’s national dish.

Kushari: A great way to use leftovers

This is a traditional dish that dates back to the 1800s when, at the end of each month, families would have a little of this and a little of that left in their pantries. The remnants were thrown together into a hearty meal that in recent years has become a widely popular street food.

Tim likened the Kushari to a Middle Eastern version of Cincinnati Chill: noodles, beans (lentils and chickpeas), and tomato sauce.  And, it seems that each variation of Kushari can be a bit different: with chickpeas or not, with onions or not, spicier or milder, saucier or less so.

So, get ready for a mile-high pile of ingredients that comes together beautifully.

Making Kushari

If you are making kushari from the ground up, it does take a lot of pots and pans.

We have tried to simplify it as much as we can in our recipe below, but the best bet seems to be a little planning ahead. If you have some leftover rice and pasta, and a can of chickpeas, then the sauce and lentils become the only things that really need to cook.

And, it really is a great way to clean out the fridge!

More lentil recipes from around the world

If you love lentils, you will love these other recipes using lentils from other corners of the globe.

 

Yield: 3 people

Kushari

Often called the national dish of Egypt, Kushari is a hearty combination of flavors and textures all topped off with spicy tomato sauce and fried onions. | www.CuriousCuisiniere.com

Often called the national dish of Egypt, Kushari is a hearty combination of flavors and textures all topped off with spicy tomato sauce and fried onions.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

For the Sauce

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ½ Tbsp cumin
  • ¾ tsp paprika
  • ¼ - ½ tsp cayenne, (depending on your heat preference)
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch cloves

For the Pasta

  • ¾ c elbow macaroni, dry
  • ¼ c spaghetti, dry, broken into 1” pieces

For the Fried Onion Topping

For the Dish

  • 1 ¾ c cooked lentils, cooked
  • 1 ¼ c cooked chickpeas, cooked
  • 1 1/2 c cooked white rice

Instructions

For the Sauce

  1. Heat 1 tsp of oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft, 2-3 min.
  3. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil.
  4. Simmer the sauce 20 minutes, until thick and fragrant, adding water if the sauce seems to be too dry.
  5. Taste the sauce and add more cayenne or salt if desired.

For the Pasta

  1. In another medium saucepan, bring 1 quart of water t a boil. Add pasta and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes. Drain pasta and toss with a little oil to keep it from sticking together while the rest of the dish is being prepared.

For the Onions

  1. In a small, non-stick frying pan, heat 1 tsp oil.
  2. Toss onion slices with 2 Tbsp flour and place floured onions into the hot oil.
  3. Fry over medium high heat until crisp and golden.
  4. Remove the fried onions from pan and place onto a paper towel lined plate

To Serve

  1. Start each plate off with a layer of mixed noodles. Top the noodles with rice, lentils, and chickpeas. Spoon the tomato sauce over the beans, and finish everything off with the fried onions.

Notes

This recipe was updated in February 2017. We made the kushari even better!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

3

Serving Size:

3 people

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 558Saturated Fat: 0.7gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 138mgCarbohydrates: 102.4gFiber: 21.8gSugar: 9.2gProtein: 24.8g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment below or share a photo on Instagram. Don't forget to tag @curiouscuisiniere!


More Middle Eastern recipes to try: 

Mezze {Appetizers}

Salata {Salads and Sides}

Main

Halwa {Desserts}

 


This is one of the recipes from the early days of Curious Cuisiniere. We’ve updated our pictures since we first made it, but we’ve left the original images here as a fun throwback and shout out to how far we’ve come. Enjoy! 

Kushari from Curious Cuisiniere Kushari from Curious Cuisiniere

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Cindy Kerschner

Saturday 9th of November 2013

Sounds like a great homestyle heartwarming dish!

Brianne @ Cupcakes & Kale Chips

Thursday 7th of November 2013

What a unique and interesting dish!

Lane R (@supperforasteal)

Tuesday 5th of November 2013

I'm going to bet I had this in Egypt but don't remember. I look forward to trying it at home now!

Amy Kim (@kimchi_mom)

Monday 4th of November 2013

I've never heard of this dish, but I love the sound of it!

The Wimpy Vegetarian

Monday 4th of November 2013

I love that you provided a map to chart out the Middle East. It really gives us a sense for why there's such a range in the food, but shares a similar core. I've never heard of Kushari and am always open to new Middle Eastern foods - thanks for sharing this one.

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