Jeremy Martin of Eatgypt (Photo by Erika Howlett)

Eatgypt: Local Chef Brings National Dish of Egypt to Tucson

March 25, 2024
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By Erika Howlett
By Erika Howlett

Koshary is Egypt’s national dish for a reason — it’s portable, tasty, and satisfying. Over the last several years Jeremy Martin has become Tucson’s koshary expert, running the pop-up Eatgypt at Heirloom Farmers Markets and local festivals. 

Here’s how he does it.

Martin first tasted koshary on a trip to Egypt with his wife, who was of Egyptian descent and has since passed away. He’s from Boston, where he worked in the food industry for many years before he and his family moved out to Tucson. 

The Eatgypt concept began in 2018 and has been a staple at Tucson Meet Yourself. Martin operates a one-man kitchen, serving a limited menu with the main focus being koshary. 

Eatgypt (Photo by Erika Howlett)

His 8-year-old daughter, Lily, often accompanies him to markets, helping him greet customers and take orders. 

“She wants to very much be a part of it,” Martin added. “I absolutely love and cherish her willingness to help. For the past couple of Tucson Meet Yourself festivals she’s been face-to-face with people coming to the booth and taking orders. She really gets into the events. She’s always thinking about things, how to improve Eatgypt and how we can get more people. I love that.”

The combination of rice, pasta, lentils, chickpeas, and tomato sauce, topped with fried onions, may be unfamiliar to many Americans, but Martin believes that koshary is worth being known around the world and loves introducing it to new people. 

Check out the rest of my interview with Jeremy below. 

Me: How’d you get started with Eatgypt in Tucson?

Martin: We started exploring and one of the things I remember was we went to Tucson Meet Yourself. I couldn’t believe that this was an event that they did for free and with the scale that it was, over three days with all the different foods. I was fortunate to be able to travel to Egypt and get that local experience. We ordered koshary from different places and then we would go out. It’s ubiquitous. They call it the national dish of Egypt. You can find it from anywhere, from street carts to sit-down restaurants. I knew after having gone to Tucson Meet Yourself, and having fallen in love with koshary, that it was the place that I wanted to do that. I got in touch with the organizers and 2018 was the first time having presented the concept. 

Me: What do you like about koshary? 

Martin: It’s a plant-based dish and you get an incredible amount of plant-based protein with it. It’s healthier than a lot of different things. It’s such a weird thing but it tastes so good — who would think that the combination of all that stuff could taste great? Koshary is such an incredible dish and I want to be able to share it with as many people as possible. Not everyone is going to necessarily like it — but it’s just a matter of getting over that initial hurdle of having them try it. 

Jeremy Martin of Eatgypt (Photo by Erika Howlett)

Me: What was the process of perfecting your own recipe?

Martin: I was obsessed with Koshary when we’d go to Egypt. So on one particular trip, I had frozen a number of sauces from my favorite koshary spots in Cairo. I had to stick them in my checked bag and, thankfully, they made it without a big tomato mess everywhere. This was to take back home to Boston — roughly a year and a half before we had moved to Tucson. I picked my top five favorites from Cairo and froze the sauces so that I could try and deconstruct them and develop a similar taste when I got back home. I knew that I wanted to do something with koshary when I got back to the states. I just didn’t know at the time what that was going to be.

Eventually, when getting back, I figured the best approach was to figure out how to make the components work in a mobile type of operation — and so I did that.  I also worked to come up with a sauce that hit all of the flavor profiles of a traditional koshary sauce. It took a few months before I was happy with the final recipe. That’s important because, without the sauce, there’s not a lot of flavor really coming from any of the other components.

I’ve had people who are familiar with traditional koshary or might be directly from the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) — and have tried the koshary I make. Many have come back to praise the dish or have become regulars. That is always incredibly rewarding and makes me feel that I’m doing something right.

Me: What is your favorite part of running Eatgypt? 

Martin: My favorite thing is just meeting new people and being able to share something with them that they’ve never had. A lot of people for whatever reason have never tried it, mostly because it’s hard to find Egyptian food, typically. Just opening them up to something that’s completely different. When they have that experience and they come back and say, “Thanks, that was so delicious,” it feels rewarding that I’m doing something that is making people happy to eat. 

Me: What’s next for Eatgypt? 

Martin: I have every intention of continuing this concept and hopefully being able to grow it into the larger vision I have for it — essentially a small footprint takeaway with limited seating. I want to be able to continue providing a nutritious option that offers a good value and is adaptable to different dietary traits. I mentioned committing to a full vegan menu — many Egyptian dishes already fall under that — others are easily adaptable. I also offer options for folks who might be gluten-free or nutritarian. All of the ingredients I source and use are non-GMO. All I think about when I am not working at an event or one of the farmer’s markets is how I can improve the concept. It consumes me!

For more information and to keep up with the latest, visit and follow Eatgypt on Instagram.

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