If you haven’t heard about koshari, why? The Egyptian street dish is a comfort combo of rice, pasta, lentils, crisp chickpeas, fried onions and tomato salsa, and it’s big on crunch and flavour. In good news for plant-lovers, it’s also vegan, and if you think all of that sounds like a bit much, you’re dead wrong.
Koshari, sometimes spelt kushari, is often touted as the national dish of Egypt, though it’s believed to have originated from the Indian rice-and-lentil dish kichri (BTW also the inspiration for the British-Indian dish of kedgeree). When British soldiers brought kichri to Egypt in the 1880s, the Italian-Egyptians added pasta, the Egyptians added the spice, salsa and onions...and voilà, koshari was born.
It’s street food, it’s comfort food, it’s “bowl food” (cheers Meghan and Harry), and most of all, it’s delicious. Here’s where you can get koshari in Sydney.
Koshari is always popular at this Enmore corner shop. They do a roaring trade in filled baladi (pita-style bread) and charcoal meats, and real-deal Egyptian-style felafel made from broad beans (bite into one and inspect the tell-tale green insides, we dare you). The koshari ($14) is a recipe from Shobra, owner Hesham El Masry’s father’s home village in Egypt. It’s a house specialty, and comes in a metal bowl piled high with the goods. The salsa has a touch of spice and is generously garlic-ky, and the crisp chickpeas are fried to order. Pair with the amazing mixed vegetarian plate (felafel, fried cauliflower, bright pickles, bread and dip) for a vegetarian feast for two (or just a very hungry you).
Walid El Sabbagh is a qualified marine engineer in his homeland of Egypt, but food is his passion. He spent six months perfecting his grandma’s koshari recipe before launching his food truck at Waterloo’s Middle Eastern Night Markets during Eid in 2016. Dig deep into their takeaway bowl of koshari for just $10 or add-on felafel for an extra $2.
Taste Of Egypt
Bankstown’s Taste of Egypt has been open since 2002, making it one of the first Egyptian restaurants in Sydney. Step inside their clean, tiled dining room and you’ll be greeted with the heady, smoky smells of charcoal meats. For a happy $9, you get a saucy koshari (spelled kousharie) complete with longer pasta noodles. Aside from the rest of the very excellent menu, make sure you nab some house-made mango nectar.
Owners and cousins-in-law Ishac Soliman and George Kaldas claim the mantle for starting the first Egyptian food truck in Sydney. The El Qahirah (Arabic for Cairo) truck is an eye-catching white, blue and red, and peddles a simple menu of fuul medames (slow-cooked broad beans), taameya (Egyptian-style falafel) and koshari, all for a measly $12. Keep an eye out for their dessert options too. Best to check out their Instagram to find out where they’ll be stationed next.
Tramsheds, Forest Lodge
If you grew up around the Canterbury-Bankstown area, you’ve most likely been to Al Aseel, the popular Lebanese restaurant in Greenacre. Well, they also own and run Bekya, an upmarket Middle Eastern restaurant in the Tramsheds district. Koshari is their signature dish, and it comes out of the kitchen in a steaming double-handled pot, and generously smothered in that lip-smacking, spicy tomato sauce. It’s yours for $15.
Want to hit up the best Lebanese spots in Sydney next? Read this.
Cairo Takeaway | Image credit: Caitlin Hicks