Recipe: Koshari (Pre-Race Dinner and One of My Favorite Meals)

In the weeks leading up to my first half-marathon, I spent quite a bit of time reading and planning for how I would prepare.  What would my taper look like?  Should I have a pre-race meal 2 hours or 3 hours beforehand?  And, of course, there was the question of what to eat the night before the race.

Since I wasn’t running a full marathon, heavy carbo-loading wasn’t necessary, but I did want to increase my carbohydrate intake somewhat in the days leading up to the run, just to be sure I had the stored energy that I would need.  I also wanted to eat something familiar and delicious; something that I knew would provide me with necessary nutrients, as well as comfort to calm some of my nerves.

It didn’t take long for me to decide on koshari as my pre-race dinner.  Many runners turn to pasta dishes before runs.  Whether it’s a group of runners gathering together or a quick meal at home, pasta dinners have long been a tradition before races.  Koshari is a take on a pasta dinner, but with a decidedly different cultural twist.

As I understand it, koshari is Egyptian in origin and is a traditional mixture of pasta, lentils, and rice with a somewhat spicy tomato sauce and onions.  I’ve seen several different recipes for koshari and the one I will share with you here is the one I have created from a culmination of various sources and my own trial and error.

This is a simple dish, but it is consistently one of my favorite and most satisfying meals.  I also like to think that it really is ideal to include in a healthy menu for runners and other athletes, as it packs a nice combination of nutrients.  The pasta and rice give you the carbohydrates you need for sustaining energy levels.  The lentils provide a substantial dose of protein, fiber and B vitamins.  The tomato sauce delivers powerful antioxidants and a good amount of potassium, and the onions provide protection for your heart, as well as overall anti-inflammatory properties.  How perfect is that??

Plus, this stuff is good.



Serves 6-8


  • 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup dried small pasta (macaroni/orzo/elbows)
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, diced
  • 2 tblspns olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2.5 cups tomato sauce
  • ¼ tspn red pepper flakes
  • 1 green chili, diced
  • 1 tblspn red wine vinegar
  • (optional: extra onion to fry and top with cooked koshari)


  1. Place lentils in a pot with 3 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer about 30-40 minutes, until tender.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Simultaneously, cook rice in 2 cups of water as directed on package. When finished, set aside.
  3. Also, cook pasta until al dente.  Drain and set aside.
  4. Saute onions, garlic and chili in olive oil until browned.
  5. Add tomato sauce, red pepper flakes, and red wine vinegar.  Heat to boiling and reduce to a simmer.  Add salt and additional red pepper flakes to preferred taste.  Simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  6. Combine cooked lentils, rice and pasta with the sauce and mix to combine.  If desired, serve topped with caramelized onions, chopped parsley or cilantro.

6 comments on “Recipe: Koshari (Pre-Race Dinner and One of My Favorite Meals)

  1. […] Recipe: Koshari (Pre-Race Dinner and One of My Favorite Meals) ( […]

  2. graceyb says:

    This sounds great and I have all the ingredients already! I’m going to give it a try. I might even get creative and throw in some peppers and mushrooms!

  3. veggiereader says:

    i’m definitely making this for my marathon sunday. I have been racking my brain about what to eat up and this is perfect.

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