Food Trend Spotlight: Koshari

October 2019

Koshari, the National Dish of Egypt is served in virtually every restaurant, home, and on every Egyptian street corner. The simple, yet hearty dish of lentils, rice, pasta, sauce, and fried onions is said to have originated in the 1800s as a way for Egyptian households to transform cooked grains, pulses, and pasta into a satisfying meal.

While koshari is still up-and-coming in North America, the concept is one that lends great inspiration to foodservice operators. Boston is set to welcome a year-long koshari popup, Koshari Mama, beginning in November, with the trend also reaching the fast-casual segment with Kusharista in New York.

Gerry Ludwig of Gordon Food Service recently highlighted koshari as his top menu opportunity when delivering his annual street-level trends presentation at the Flavor Experience conference in August where he presents trends across foodservice.

Lentils.org Corporate Chef James Bickmore-Hutt explores why this trend is so appealing to foodservice operators:

Culinary Appeal

“Koshari is a delicious representation of global street food, ticking many boxes in today’s culinary landscape including the growing power bowl trend, highlighting ethnic authenticity, health-forward, being customizable, convenient, and of course easy to execute. At its core koshari contains a well-rounded blend of familiar plant protein, whole grains, and vegetables and simple and approachable cooking techniques with the opportunity to innovate on ingredients, flavor profile, toppings, and textural garnishes. Koshari may include animal proteins but can easily remain vegetarian or vegan to fit all preferences.”

Operational Perks

“Operationally, koshari is simple to execute – assembly is quick and easy and components can be prepped ahead and hot held, which also makes the dish ideal for service on buffets, in fast-casual environments, and travels well for use in take-out and delivery settings. Koshari is also attractive operationally from a cost perspective with base ingredients being very economical to reflect back positively on the bottom line.”

Innovation Opportunities

“The potential for menu innovation with koshari lies in its inherit ability to carry great flavor with its base of versatile but neutral pulses and grains ready to soak up robust sauces and spices. Innovative adaptations of this dish would come from introducing other global culinary profiles to help transform this simple dish. Think global – Korean, Italian, Mexican, Indian. All boldly flavored cuisines that can be identified by great sauces, and regionally specific vegetable additions. These combinations can be used to take this koshari base of lentils, rice, and pasta around the globe.”

Start with a simple formula:

Base = Equal parts of lentils + rice + pasta

Sauce = Think global

Vegetables = 1-3 with regional specificity

Garnish = Think texture

Getting You Started

To get you started, Lentils.org refined a classic take on koshari, as well as some fun and innovative mash-up ideas:

Egyptian Koshari Bowl

Koshari Mash-up #1 — Greek Inspired Koshari Bowl

Koshari Mash-up #2 — Korean Inspired Koshari Bowl

Let us know how you are innovating around koshari on your menus – email us at info@lentils.org and share your ideas!