The Egyptian cuisine is not just flavorful, but nutritional as well. This cuisine goes back to the time of pharaohs some 5000 years back. It’s said that the builders of pyramids survived eating coarse bread, onion, garlic and beer. Beer no more remains in scene, but the other three ingredients supplemented with eggplant, favas, okra, pasta, lentils, rice still seem to be the most basic necessities of Egyptian food even today. Meat is not seen in abundance, due to the scarcity of graze able land here. The food in Egypt makes heavy use of vegetables and legumes due to the rich land area of Nile River and delta, large quantity and high quality of crops are produced here.
Some popular dishes of Egypt
Ful medames, the national dish of Egypt, consist of slowly cooked fava beans and is eaten for breakfast, it’s said that this dish can sustain any worker all day long. Molokhia is another popular dish which is a tall leafy plant grown along the banks of river Nile, possessing highest amount of folic acid and proteins and is very rich in calcium, beta-carotene and vitamin C. This is considered to be an aphrodisiac among people in Egypt.
Bread here is referred as eish and is central to many cuisines cooked in Egypt; eish cooked with fava beans has remained a staple food in Egyptian palette since ages. Tameya is another favorite food, which is fava bean falafels dished up with bread and salad or a juicy skewer of marinated meat and is cooked over hot charcoal.
The tradition of coffee in Egypt goes back centuries, when all males escaped to places serving the same alongside nargile pipes. Fresh fruit is another hearty and light alternative served with black tea or strong coffee or a traditional red tea which is known as karkade and is made with dry hibiscus flowers. Popular Egyptian sweets include Basbousa, semolina and coconut based cake and Umm Ali, a creamy baked custard.
Main course in Egypt
Dishes like Ful Medames, Molokheyya, Fetir Meshaltet are characteristic of any Egyptian meal. The cuisines here shares food similarities with eastern Mediterranean area including grape leaves, rice-stuffed vegetables, kebab, Shawerma, baklava and Baba Ghannoug.
Koshari cooked from lentils, rice and macaroni is a common dish. Ancient Egyptians are believed to have used a lot of onion and garlic in dishes cooked every day.
Bread forms the backbone of Egyptian food
Simple bread which is consumed in almost all meals in Egypt is a staple food here. The bread locally is referred as Eish Masri and indicates the centrality of bread in Egyptian cuisine. Bread is known to supply protein and carbohydrate to the Egyptian diet and is used to scoop up sauces, food, dips and to wrap falafel, kababs and also as sandwiches.
Another bread variety used in the countryside is Aish Merahrah, which contains maize flour and fenugreek seeds and has flat and wide loaves. The maize flour, made into soft dough is fermented overnight and then shaped into round loaves and allowed to rise for another 30 minutes. Adding fenugreek seeds adds to the storage life, protein content and digestibility.
Top 10 Egyptian food recipes
Food in Egypt does not rely much on spices and is mostly simple yet tasty. Here is a list of top ten Egyptian recipes. But the list is not exhaustive and these foods are easily accessible to locals and tourists.
Ful Medamas and Ta’Meya are fast foods of Egypt. The former dish is made with fava beans cooked over low flame overnight in a traditional pot called Qeda, while Ta’meya is made from crushed fava beans that is later on mixed with pasta and fried, this dish is great for veg lovers.
Made from black lentils, rice, round pasta rings, spaghetti, whole hummus, thick tomato sauce and caramelized onions where all ingredients are tossed in a big bowl with some vinaigrette and hot sauce. The dish even though so simple, is just delicious.
Sugoq wa Kibdah Iskandarani
This is for spicy meat lovers where sausages are cooked on low flame with spicy tomato sauce and the liver in its own juices is served with Torshi. To balance the heat, it’s recommended to eat halawa bel qeshta, which is sweet sesame paste with double cream, right after finishing this spicy food.
Kabab Wa Kofta
Typically made from lamb or veal, these are succulent grilled meat cubes with seekh kababs and served with bread and a mix of dips and green salad. This is grilled over charcoal and must be savored by every meat lover coming to Egypt.
This dish consists of spiced ground beef cooked in baladi bread loaf, which is baked in a regular oven or a rotisserie oven.
This is similar to biryani, made with meat, bread and rice layered together with tomato sauce and vinegar. Meat used is mostly veal, beef or lamb and the bread is baladi bread.
The dish came to Egypt due to the Ottoman rule, which influenced people. The best shawerma is traditionally available at sandwich parlors which are owned by the Syrians in Egypt.
This is a seafood dish made with white fish variety like bluefish, bass or mullet and is cooked with rice, tomato or onion sauce and then baked in an earthenware. This dish is particularly served at Suez, Alexandria and Port Said.
This forms the staple of Egyptian meals, in 1970 a cease on subsidy of breads by the Egyptian government led to many riots across the country. The bread is made from bran and whole wheat and is baked in a traditional wood burning oven. The bread when freshly baked can give any food a whole new dimension.
A food known since ancient Egypt is a vegetarian dish made with spices and herbs. After cooking the same is green in color and appears to be a dip like creamy paste that is best consumed with baladi bread.
Egyptian cuisine has a lot of vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian dishes and there are many desserts and drinks served to complete the menu. Above are top popular Egyptian recipes, but the list does not end here and many more foods can go in for the list to get completed.
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