3 Easy Egyptian Budget Lunch Recipes to Try

What are the best Egyptian Budget Lunch Recipes?

In Egypt, there is a certain scheme of how people choose what to eat for lunch that changes based on what period of the month it is. For instance, people seem to spend more on food, whether they eat in or out, at the beginning of the month; right after they have just got their payment. Most likely, they consume beef and chicken with different dishes of rice and pasta as well as fast food.

In the middle of the month, they tend to tame their cravings a little bit. It is still the fifteenth and they would like to be able to make it safely until their next payment without having to get into debt!

At the end of the month, they completely give up on eating out, except if it is street food, and most likely consume budget meals.

And in that matter, Egyptian cuisine seems to get the backs of its people. There, in fact, is a variety of delicious budget dishes in Egyptian cuisine that only require a few ingredients and take a short time to make. And since they are budget meals, none of them comprises beef or chicken which is quite a healthy thing too.

So let’s hop into them.

1. Lentil Soup

This is the standard winter soup in Egypt. Once the cold weather hits, everybody subconsciously and simultaneously craves Lentil Soup. It is super easy to make and is highly nutritious as well since it combines yellow lentils and many vegetables. 

Lentil Soup is usually served with Lentil Fattah, an Egyptian roasted bread dish covered in Lentil Soup and served with vinegar onions which we will include in the recipe as well.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of yellow lentils
  • 1 medium-sized minced onions
  • 1 large minced clove of garlic
  • 1 large potato, cut into small cubes
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, cut into small cubes
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 6 1/2 cups of hot water
  • 1 cube of chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon of ghee
  • 1/4 cup of lattice pasta
  • 2 loaves of Egyptian bread (or pita bread if that is not available)
  • 4 tablespoons of butter

Recipe

Place a large cooking pot on medium-high heat and combine two tablespoons of olive oil, the minced onions, and garlic. Stir them for around two minutes until they start to change colour. Then, add the carrot and potato cubes to the pot. Stir well for a minute.

Add a quarter cup of water and stir it with the vegetables. Lower the heat and let them simmer for five minutes. The point at this stage is to allow the vegetables to half-cook since they will get a chance to fully cook later when adding the rest of the ingredients.

Next, add the tomato cubes, stir them with the vegetables, and let the mixture simmer again for a couple of more minutes. As this happens, place a cup of yellow lentils in a large bowl and clean it with water three or four times until the water comes out clean. Drain the water and add the lentils to the vegetables.

Stir and mix the lentils with the vegetables. Season the mixture with salt, ground black pepper, cumin, turmeric, and a cube of chicken broth. Stir and mix. Add six cups of hot water to the pot, cover it with the lid, increase the heat to medium-high and let the soup cook until the potatoes and carrots are fully cooked and softened.

Use a hand blender to beat the vegetables and lentils and turn the mixture into a homogenous, soft soup. If such a tool is not available, you can let the soup cool down and beat it in the food processor.

At this point, your soup is fine and ready. You can pour it into small bowls, drizzle some lime juice and olive oil on the top and serve it hot. Or you can go one step further to make the standard Egyptian Lentil Soup.

So you want to go one step further? OK. Fine.

In a frying pan, add one tablespoon of ghee. Stir until melted then add a quarter cup of lattice pasta. Stir the pasta for two minutes or until it turns golden brown. Pour one cup of the Lentil Soup you already prepared and mix it with the roasted lattice and bring the mixture to a boil.

Take the pan off the heat and combine the cooked lattice with the Lentil Soup you prepared earlier. Stir and mix well. Pour the soup into small bowls and serve it hot. And do not forget to drizzle lime juice or olive oil on the top.

To make the Lentil Fattah, cut two loaves of Egyptian bread or pita bread into small bites. Place four tablespoons of butter in a frying pan and stir them until melted then combine the bread bites. Stir the bread for four minutes until it is golden brown, roasted, and crispy.

Add some bread to a dish so that it is half full then add about a cup of the hot Lentil Soup or more, as much as enough to cover all the bread. Let the Fattah sit for a couple of minutes so that the bread tenderises then serve it.

2. Yellow Koshary

Koshary, as we have mentioned a hundred times before, is Egypt’s number one local food and a nationwide favourite. There are Koshary restaurants everywhere to satisfy people’s appetite and provide an affordable on-the-go, delicious lunch or dinner.

Yet, there is another type of Koshary, Alexandrian Koshary, that is rarely, if not never, served in restaurants; yet, Egyptian houses are quite familiar with it. That is the Yellow Koshary.

Yellow Koshary is a typical dish to make when you are on a low budget or broke! It is delicious and easy to make. It also comprises boiled fried eggs as a more affordable source of protein than beef or chicken.

Although Yellow Koshary is completely different from the regular Koshary, I am not quite sure why it was named after it. The only thing I can think of is that both have lentils. However, that might not be the reason since regular Koshary has brown lentils while the Yellow Koshary uses, you guessed it, yellow lentils.

Anyways, let’s see we make this Yellow Koshary dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of yellow lentils
  • 2 cups of Egyptian rice
  • 1 small minced onion
  • 3 cups of hot water
  • 10 peeled boiled eggs
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoons of salt
  • 1 large sliced onion
  • 1 large onion cut into wedges
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • 1/4 cup of vinegar

Recipe

In a cooking pot, combine one tablespoon of oil with one small minced onion and stir until the onions start to change colour a little bit but are still not translucent. Add in the rice—after you have cleaned and soaked it in water for at least 30 minutes. Stir the rice for around two minutes until it is shiny and completely mixed with the oil.

Pour three cups of hot water into the pot and add half a tablespoon of salt and half a teaspoon of cumin. Combine well with the rice and bring it to a boil.

In a separate large bowl, add two cups of yellow lentils and clean them well until the water comes out clean. Pour off the water and combine the lentils with the rice. Stir for a minute until the rice and lentils are well mixed. Lower the heat and let the mixture cook for 15 minutes. 

In a frying pan, add two tablespoons of oil and two tablespoons of butter. Stir until the oil is heated and the butter is melted. Then add the peeled, boiled eggs to the pan. Stir fry the eggs for two minutes. This is called rolled eggs because they get to fry as they roll over in the pan! Keep rolling the eggs until they take a golden brown colour. Take them off the heat and sprinkle some salt and ground black pepper. Set the eggs aside for now.

The final stage is preparing the topping: fried onions.

In a frying pan, add vegetable oil so that the pan is half full and turn on the heat to medium-high. Let the oil heat for a couple of minutes then add the slices of onions. Fry the onions for two or three minutes. Stir them frequently until they get that golden brown colour and become crispy. Use a strainer to take the onions out of the oil and let them cool down for a couple of minutes.

Now it is time to combine all the components. Bring in a platter, add all the rice/lentil mixture, and distribute it evenly. Surround the rice with the fried rolled eggs and top it with the fried onions.

The last thing is a must-serve side dish with the Lentil Soup and Lentil Fattah: vinegar onion wedges.

Cut a large onion into wedges, separate the layers, and put them in a bowl. Add one tablespoon of salt and rub the onions with it for a minute. This step will help tame the tangy, sour taste of the onions.

Clean the onions with water as well as the bowl. Combine a quarter cup of vinegar and one tablespoon of lime juice with the onions in the bowl. Sprinkle some salt, cumin, and ground black pepper. Stir the spices with the vinegar and onions and let your bowl sit for 10 minutes to deepen the taste then serve along with your Lentil Soup and Fattah.

3. Besara

I wish there was a direct translation to this word but it is just a proper noun which refers to that green-looking dish, topped with fried onions, and served with Egyptian bread. 

Besara is a traditional dish that people used to eat a lot in the past. It was about to go extinct thanks to the increasingly high consumption of fast food that made people less and less interested in home-cooked dishes and not just low-budget, non-beef dishes like Besara.

But Besara still has a chance to live because of the many YouTubers who address it on their cooking channels, trying to retain one of the tastiest, oriental Egyptian dishes. 

So this is how to make Besara.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 kilo of broken beans
  • 1 bunch of minced dill
  • 1 bunch of minced parsley
  • 1 bunch of minced coriander
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 2 medium-sized sliced onions
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of dried crushed mint
  • 1 teaspoon of marjoram
  • 1/4 tablespoon of cardamom
  • 1/4 tablespoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tablespoon of allspice
  • 1/4 tablespoon of fennel
  • 1 tablespoon of white sesame

Recipe

First and foremost, clean the beans multiple times and soak them in water for two hours before attempting to make this recipe.

Place a large cooking pot on high heat and add water so that the pot is half full. Combine a quarter cup of beans with the sliced onions and five cloves of garlic and bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat and cover the pot with the lid and let the mixture simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until the beans get fully cooked and soften.

When the beans cook, turn off the heat then add the minced herbs, parsley, dill, and coriander. Stir them with the beans, cover the pot, and leave it aside for five minutes for the herbal flavours to sink in.

Now it is time to season the herbed beans. Add one teaspoon of salt and the same quantity of one teaspoon of ground black pepper, cumin, crushed mint, and marjoram with a pinch of cardamom, cinnamon, allspice, and fennel. Whisk all those components very well with the beans.

Using a hand blender or a food processor beat the beans a couple of times until it turns into a very soft, green mixture. Return the Besara to the cooking pot and turn on the heat. Add a quarter cup of water, stir it with the Besara and let it simmer for five minutes. 

In a frying pan, place three tablespoons of vegetable oil with one large sliced onion and fry it for a few minutes until the slices turn golden brown and crispy. Divide the onions into two equal portions. Combine one portion with the Besara and stir until well mixed then turn off the heat.

In the same frying pan, roast one tablespoon of white sesame with one tablespoon of oil for a couple of minutes until golden brown. Combine the sesame with the remaining portion of fried onions and mix them well.

Pour the Besara into a casserole or a deep platter. Garnish it with the onion/sesame mixture. Serve the Besara hot with Egyptian or pita bread, spiced tomatoes, and green onions.

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