One Pot Kushari: كشرى الحلة الواحدة

Kushari served with crisp fried shallots, daqqah, shatta (chili garlic sauce), & salsa (mild tomato-garlic sauce)

A party of tantalizing flavors and unmistakable aroma, Kushari (Koshari) is the king of vegan Egyptian street food. Kushari includes heaps of playful vermicelli-rice, mixed with lentils and al dente pasta, topped with crispy fried shallots, and drizzled with three different tangy, mild, and fiery sauces.  Using just one pot, you can easily make Kushari in your own kitchen.

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My Kushari Memoirs 

The first time I cooked Kushari in my life was eleven years ago.

I was living in Paris with my husband and our six months old daughter, back then, when Rob and Alison, a dear American couple, with whom my husband previously worked in a different city, announced their short visit to the City of Light.

We extended to Rob and Ali, our friends, a sincere invitation for lunch at our place. Knowing their affinity to Egyptian food, as they lived in Egypt in an earlier stage of their lives, we offered them a menu of their choice. 

Without missing a beat, they swiftly answered back asking to have homemade Kushari for lunch! Well,  Kushari, back then, was a dish that I never had made before.  

Early attempt of homemade Kushari
Early attempt of homemade Kushari

Trying to figure it out, I called my Egyptian-American mother-in-law in California, kindly asking her to share her no fail-recipe. She always made the best disaporan Kushari I know. Her advise was to cook the rice, pasta, and lentils separately, and then assemble the dish right before serving. 

My mother-in-law’s recipe worked like a charm!  It was risk-free with excellent results. Yet, it took almost half a day to cook the Kushari ingredients separately, and a full sink full of pots to wash.

That cooking experience made me wonder about a Kushari shortcut that would propel me to make our beloved Kushari more often. 

One Pot Kushari 

To much of my delight, almost three years ago, I stumbled over a YouTube video by the Egyptian Chef Vivian Farid, making Kushari in one pot!

In her video, Ms. Farid cooked the rice, lentils, and pasta in one pot in 10 minutes flat! That video was a revelation, and eye opening to say the least!

I immediately tested the recipe in my kitchen and it was a huge success! However, I changed a few details to suit my family’s taste. 

What is Special About Egyptian Kushari

Kushari is nothing short of a miracle! Its humble ingredients (lentils, pasta, and rice) belie a party of bursting flavors, tantalizing aromas, and playful textures. 

Toasted vermicelli rice, mixed with cooked-to-perfection lentils, al dente pasta, and tender chickpeas, all doused in garlicky sauce with a vinegar bite and crowned with umami-like fried shallots or onions. 

Kushari is offered with three different sauces, Daqqah, Salsa, and Shatta. Thanks to their tuned garlicky bite, calculated acidic tang, and fiery spiciness, the three sauces transfer the heaps of bland carb staples into a unique food experience. 

The Story of Kushari (aka Koshari) 

Although it is a street food, Kushari is the epitome of a cosmopolitan era that once prevailed in Egypt.  In many ways, this dish is fusion food at its best.

It is widely believed that Egyptian Kushari was inspired by Kidchdi the Indian lentil-rice dish. Kidchdi arrived to Egypt with the Indians, who flocked to Egypt along with the British troops, when Egypt was a British colony.

Kidchi became popular among Egyptians too, as they shared with the Indians their exotic food, as well as their grievances against the British imperialist.

Ostensibly, the Indian dish was set on evolving! Legend goes that the humble rice-lentil dish landed in the kitchen of some Italian expat who lived in Cairo, who artfully added macaroni pasta and vermicelli.  

To baptize the dish Egyptian, locals drizzled on the dish their signature garlic-vinegar sauce. To spike the dish even further, the dish is served with a mild tomato sauce, and a fiery chilli-garlic sauce (which you could easily replace with tabasco),  and topped with heaps of scrumptious fried shallots. 

How to make Kushari 

The work flow of this recipe is of paramount importance. I found that making the recipe in this order makes it a piece of cake. So I would recommend that you follow the recipe in that very same order to minimize your time, and save energy. 

  • Mise en place (prepare and lay out the ingredients) 

Prepping all the Kushari/Koshari ingredients in advance, preferably the day before, makes cooking Kushari a piece of cake, as it significantly saves time and frustration.

  1. Chop 1 kg of shallots and wrap them in a kitchen towel in the fridge until you are ready to fry them.
  2. Peel 2 heads of garlic and mince them in the food processor, as you will use them in the sauces.
  3. Soak the lentils in hot water for one hour before cooking the Kushari, rinse it under tap water and let it dry. 
  4. Soak the basmati rice for 30 minutes and then rinse it under tap water until the water runs clear. Let the rice dry completely in a fine mesh sieve fitted over a bowl. If the rice is wet, it will splatter in the hot oil and might hurt you. 
  5. Keep ground cumin, ground coriander, salt, and pepper handy as you will use these four items repeatedly throughout the recipes. 
  • Fry the shallots 

  1. Shallots are by far the best type of onion to fry. They crisp up beautifully in the hot oil and have lovely amber hues when fried. My second choice would be yellow onions. Please avoid red onions at all cost as they may contain more sugar that will prevent the onion rings from crisping up when you fry them. 
  1. To reduce stress and time in the kitchen, frying the shallots could be made a day ahead and stored in airtight containers at room temperature. 
  2. To avoid shedding a single tear while slicing the onions, I strongly recommend placing a candle made of natural essential oils next to your slicing station. It works like magic. 
  3. Thinly slice the onions and place them in a fine mesh sieve, then rinse them with tap water. This step will wash away any lingering sugar in the onions and will speed up the frying process. After rinsing, let the onion slices rest on absorbent paper in one single layer to discard the excess water.
  4. When the onion rings are totally dry, add them to the warm-to-touch oil in a medium or large frying skillet on low heat. The oil should not be hot or the shallots will burn and get bitter. Keep stirring the onion rings in the skillet. 
  5. Fried Shallots
    Fried shallots
  6. Use unflavored oil. My go-to is canola as it beautifully absorbes the shallots flavor. 
  7. Once the onion/shallot rings start to turn into a light amber color, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and lay them on one layer on absorbent paper. 
  8. Run the frying oil that you used for frying the onions through a fine mesh sieve fitted over a deep bowl, discard the burnt bites, and store the filtered oil in a sealed glass jar to use it in cooking the kushari and the sauces. 
  • Make the sauces (Daqqah, Salsa, and Shatta)

Kushari is served with three sauce: Daqqah (vinegar-garlic sauce), Salsa (tomato-garlic sauce), Shatta (chilli-garlic sauce). The first two are essentials but you can substitute the third one with tabasco sauce to save time. 

  1. Make the Daqqah (vinegar-garlic sauce): Wipe clean the frying pan you used to fry the shallots/onions. Add to the pan three tablespoons of the onions/shallots infused oil (made earlier), and heat over medium heat. Once hot add the garlic, stir until it becomes fragrant, add the cumin followed by the vinegar and then the water. Turn off the heat. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning and transfer to a saucepan or a serving deep bowl. 
  2. Make the Salsa (Tomato Sauce:) Use the same frying pan to make the Salsa. Add the onions-infused oil, over medium heat, once hot, add the garlic, once the garlic becomes fragrant, add the vinegar followed by the tomato juice (4-5 tomatoes blended without any water). Stir in the tomato paste, and mix everything together. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander. Let it simmer for no longer than 2-3 minutes on low heat. Turn off the heat and set aside. 
  3. Make the Shatta (chilli-garlic) sauce: Wipe the frying pan clean, add in some onions-infused oil, over medium heat, once hot add the chilli flakes and keep stirring it in the hot oil. Open the window at this point, or you will cough at the top of your lungs. Add the minced garlic, stir until fragrant and then add a paddle of the tomato sauce we made previously. You can possibly add one diced tomato to shatta, yet you can totally skip it. 
  • Make the Kushari 

Once the rice and lentils are both rinsed and ready, you can go ahead and cook the Kushari itself.

  1. Add 1/4 cup of shallot-infused oil to a large heavy bottom pan on medium heat. Once it sizzles, add the vermicelli, keep stirring the vermicelli until it has a deep amber color. Add the rice over the vermicelli, and stir in the hot oil, until it all gets coated with the oil.
  2. Add the pasta over the vermicelli and rice, and stir in the hot oil until it is evenly coated. 
  3. Add the soaked and rinsed lentils and then add hot water off the kettle. The water should barely cover the rice-pasta and lentil. 
  4. Season the kushari with salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander. Cover the pot and bring it to a vigorous boil over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, and then lower the heat, ucover the pot and let it cook on low heat for no more than 4 minutes. Fluff the Kushari with a fork and not a spoon and leave it covered with a towel until you are ready to serve it. 
  5. Store Kushari in tight lid containers in the fridge for up to three days or freeze it in ziplocks in the freezer for up to two months. 

Make ahead & freezer friendly 

Kushari is also a crowd pleaser that you can make ahead and freeze (excluding the sauce).  You can cook the rice, vermicelli, and pasta, and freeze them in ziplocks until you want to serve them.

As for the fried shallots and the sauces, you can make them 2-3 days ahead and keep them in the fridge.

Check more vegan/lenten Egyptian recipes:

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One Pot Kushari: كشرى الحلة الواحدة


For the Fried Shallots & Shallots-Infused Onions 

  • 10 shallots (see notes)
  • 1  1/2 cup unflavored oil, preferably canola  
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt 

Daqqah (Vineger-Garlic Sauce)

  • 2 tablespoons onion-infused oil
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of minced garlic
  • 1/2  tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons white distilled vinegar 
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice 
  • 1/4 cup water, room temperature
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Salsa (Mild Tomato Sauce) 

  • 3 tablespoons shallots-infused oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar 
  • 2 cups fresh tomato juice (see notes)
  • 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon coriander 
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar 
  • salt and pepper to your taste

Shatta (Chilli-Garlic Sauce), optional 

  • 2 tablespoons shallots-infused oil 
  • 1 – 1/2 tablespoons chilli flakes or chilli powder 
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic 
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste 
  • 1-2 tablespoons water, if necessary


  • 1/4 cup shallots-infused oil (recipe above)
  • 1 cup white basmati rice, soaked for 20 mins and rinsed
  • 1 cup broken vermicelli broken in 2 inch-pieces
  • 1 cup black lentils
  • 1 cup elbow pasta or angel hair pasta
  • Enough boiling water to barely cover the rice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of coriander 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1 cup chickpeas, cooked or use canned chickpeas

For Garnish: 

  • Fried onions (see recipe above)
  • Tomato-garlic sauce (see recipe above)
  • Daqqah (Garlic-Vinegar Vinaigrette), (see recipe above)
  • Chilli-garlic oil (recipe above)
  • ½ cup chickpeas, soaked and boiled (or canned)


  1. Fry the onions: Thinly slice the shallots into rings and let the onion slices rest on kitchen absorbent paper to release the excess moistureAdd unflavored oil to a large frying pan on low heat, once it gets warm and not hot, add the sliced shallots and keep stirring with a wooden spoon on low heat, until the onions rings separate. Add the salt over the frying shallots. Once the onions rings crisp up and turn into a golden hued color, remove them with a slotted spoon and let them rest on absorbent paper in one layer. Don’t pile them as they will get soggy. This onion will be used to garnish the kushari. Let the oil cool down for 20 minutes, and then run it throughout a fine mesh sieve fitted over a clean class jar.  
  2. Filter the onions-infused oil: Let the same oil you used for frying the onion come to room temperature, and then strain using a fine mesh sieve fitted unto a clean deep bowl or a glass jar. Set it aside as you will use this shallots-infused oil in the following steps
  3. Make the Daqqah (garlic-vinegar sauce): Add the onion-infused oil to a small saucepan and heat. Once hot, add the crushed garlic and cumin once they become fragrant, add immediately the vinegar followed by the water and turn off the heat. Stir in the lemon juice, and season with salt, and pepper. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water to dilute the Daqqah a bit. Turn off the heat, pour the sauce into a sauce boat, and set it aside to serve it at room temperature later with Kushari.
  4. Make the Salsa (mild tomato sauce). Wipe clean the pan you used for the Daqqah. Add the shallots-infused oil over low heat, once hot, add the minced garlic, once it becomes fragrant (don’t let it change color), immediately add the vinegar followed by the tomato juice, tomato paste, cumin, coriander, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir the mixture well and let it simmer on low heat for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set the salsa aside.
  5. Make the Shatta (chilli-garlic sauce): Wipe clean the pan you used for Salsa to make the Shatta. Add the onion-infused oil to the same pan you used for making the Daqqah in the previous step. Once the oil is hot, add the pepper flakes and keep stirring in the hot oil until it becomes so fragrant and toasted, add  1/2  cup of the salsa we made in step 4. Season with cumin, salt, and pepper. Let the sauce simmer for a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat. Transfer the sauce to a serving bowl and set aside to serve with the Kushari.
  6. Cook the Kushari: Add 1/4 cup of shallot-infused oil to a large heavy bottom pan on medium heat. Once it sizzles, add the vermicelli, keep stirring the vermicelli until it has a deep amber color. Add the rice over the vermicelli, and stir in the hot oil for 1 minute, until it all gets coated with the oil. Add the pasta and stir well for 1 minute with the rest of the ingredients to get coated with the hot oil.  Add the soaked and rinsed lentils, immediately followed by boiling water. Season the Kushari with salt, pepper, cumin, and coriander. Cover the pot and bring it to a vigorous boil for 5 minutes, and then lower the heat, uncover the pot, and let it cook on low heat for no more than 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat, taste the Kushari and adjust the seasoning.
  7. Assemble the Kushari: Transfer the Kushari to a large serving dish. Arrange on top the rinsed canned chickpeas. Drizzle the Kushari first with Daqqah (garlic-vinegar oil) and then with Salsa (the mild) tomato sauce. Sprinkle the fried shallots on top. Serve it with Shatta (chilli-garlic sauce), extra Daqqah, and Salsa, and fried onions. 
  8. Relax, and watch the whole thing disappear in no time.😊

Nermine’s Notes: 

  •  Shallots can be fried 2 days ahead and stored in airtight containers at room temperature. Sauces too could be made 2-3 days ahead and kept in the fridge. 
  • Fresh Tomato juice is made by blending 4-5 ripe coarsely tomatoes (skin on) in a blender with no water. 

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