The Boston area has a very small number of Egyptian restaurants; within city limits, Allston restaurants Zaaki and Azama Grill are among the only options, with each featuring some Egyptian food within broader menus. North of the city, the cuisine is gaining a foothold, though: Koshari Mama, a pop-up that’s been operating out of Somerville’s Bow Market since late 2019, is about to open in its own space down the street, and in Medford, Kushari and Grill has just debuted.
Koshari Mama — a fully vegan restaurant focusing on the Egyptian staple koshari, a mix of rice, lentils, pasta, and more — is run by mother-and-daughter duo Sahar Ahmed and Dina Fahim. Prior to opening their long-term Bow Market pop-up, which ends its run today, October 13, they launched the business at Mill No. 5 in Lowell and made appearances at various farmers markets. The Bow Market residency was initially supposed to last a year but was extended for another.
Now, they’re moving into a permanent space nearby (585 Somerville Ave., Somerville, formerly home to Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant). “Having the restaurant will truly allow us to expand our menu to offer many more Egyptian dishes with some of our own twists of course,” Ahmed and Fahim recently told Eater. “At our restaurant you’ll be able to come with friends, family, coworkers, etc. and you’ll leave knowing you tried something new, had a great time, and [are] full with deliciously nutritious food.”
At Bow Market, in addition to koshari, they’ve been serving a few other items, such as a roasted eggplant sub and a spicy “chicken” sandwich made from cauliflower and creamy garlic sauce; stay tuned for even more.
Ahmed and Fahim plan to open the new restaurant for takeout and delivery imminently — watch social media for updates — with a full opening coming in November.
Meanwhile in Medford, Kushari and Grill opened this week at 321 Boston Ave., right by Tufts. Mohamed Hassanein, who hails from Alexandria, Egypt, and runs the restaurant with his wife Irina, tells Eater that he ran a food truck called Mr. Kushari in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood from March 2020 to March 2021 “in hopes to bring a little bit of Egyptian cuisine to Boston.”
It was difficult starting a new business during the pandemic, he says, but he was “astonished by how much people enjoyed my food.” After closing the truck earlier this year, the team was hoping to find a place to open the restaurant and ultimately came across the Boston Avenue space. Kushari and Grill serves most of the same dishes as the truck, plus more, and Hassanein notes that the food is fully halal and made from scratch.
In addition to the namesake koshari (“Egypt’s national dish and a widely popular street food,” says Hassanein), Kushari and Grill also serves another Egyptian staple, hawawshi. Hassanein describes it as “similar to a calzone,” featuring pizza dough stuffed with a spiced mixture of ground beef, onions, bell peppers, and parsley. Hassanein considers those two dishes the restaurant’s staples — “as well as a secret garlic sauce that goes great with our Egyptian fries that everyone should try” — and the menu also includes shawarma, kebabs, falafel, eggplant salad, moussaka, baklava, and more. Don’t miss the spicy falafel roll-up.
The restaurant is mostly geared toward takeout and delivery (order takeout directly online; order delivery via the major third-party platforms), although there’s a bit of seating inside. It’s open for lunch and dinner daily and — attention, Tufts students — stays open until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday night.