Egyptian cuisine isn't only delicious and flavorful, it's also nutritional as well. Egyptian cuisine goes back more than 5,000 years to the time of pharaohs and it's only gotten even better since then. It’s said that the builders of pyramids survived on coarse bread, onions, garlic, and beer. These ingredients are supplemented with eggplant, favas, okra, pasta, lentils, and rice and these still seem to be the most basic necessities of Egyptian food even today. Meat is not seen in abundance, due to the scarcity of grazeable land here. Food in Egypt makes heavy use of vegetables and legumes as well due to the rich land area of the Nile River and delta and the large quantity and high quality of crops.
Some Popular Dishes In Egypt
Ful medames is the national dish of Egypt and consists of slowly cooked fava beans. It is eaten for breakfast and a popular saying has it 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 the river Nile, with a high 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.
Egyptian bread is referred to as eish and is central to many cuisines cooked in Egypt; eish cooked with fava beans has remained a staple food in the Egyptian palette for ages and ages. Tamiya is another favorite food, which is fava bean falafels dished up with bread and salad or a juicy skewer of marinated meat cooked over hot charcoal.
The tradition of coffee in Egypt goes back centuries when all males would visit places serving coffee and shisha from 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 and these are often eaten with a steaming cup of Egyptian coffee.
Main Dishes in Egypt
Dishes like Ful Medames, Molokheyya, and Fetir Meshaltet are characteristic of any Egyptian meal. Egyptian cuisines share many similarities with an Eastern Mediterranean diet including the use of grape leaves, rice-stuffed vegetables, kebab, Shawarma, baklava, and Baba Ghannoush. Koshari cooked from lentils, rice, and macaroni is another 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 Cuisine
The simple bread which is consumed at almost all meals in Egypt is a staple food here. The bread locally is referred to as Eish Masri and indicates the centrality of bread in Egyptian cuisine. Bread is known to supply protein and carbohydrates to the Egyptian diet and is used to scoop up sauces, food, dips and wrap falafel,s kababs, and also to make sandwiches.
Another bread variety used in the countryside is Aish Merahrah, which contains maize flour and fenugreek seeds and is baked in flat and wide loaves. The maize flour is made into soft dough is fermented overnight. The next day it is 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 Recipes
Here is a list of the top ten Egyptian recipes. Please note that the list is not exhaustive and these foods are easily accessible to locals and tourists.
Ful Medamas and Ta’Meya are two fast foods in 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 are later mixed with pasta and fried, this dish is great for vegetarians.
This is made from black lentils, rice, round pasta rings, spaghetti, whole hummus, thick tomato sauce and caramelized onions. All ingredients are tossed in a big bowl with some vinaigrette and hot sauce. Even though it's so simple this recipe 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 is cooked in its own juices and served with Torshi. To balance the heat, it’s recommended to eat halawa bel qeshta, which is a sweet sesame paste with double cream right after finishing this spicy food.
Kabab Wa Kofta
Typically made from lamb or veal, these are succulently grilled meat cubes with seekh kababs and served with bread, 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 a baladi bread loaf, which is baked in a regular oven or a rotisserie oven.
This is similar to biryani and is made with meat, bread, and rice layered together with tomato sauce and vinegar. Veal is usually used, although beef or lamb is also possible. The bread used with fattah is baladi bread.
The dish came to Egypt due to the Ottoman rule, which influenced people and their tastes. The best shawarma is traditionally available at sandwich parlors which are often owned by Syrians in Egypt.
This is a seafood dish made with white fish varieties like bluefish, bass, or mullet and is cooked with rice, tomato or onion sauce and then baked in earthenware. This dish is particularly served at Suez, Alexandria, and Port Said.
This forms the staple of Egyptian meals. In 1970 an end to the subsidization of bread 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. When freshly baked baladi bread can give any food a whole new dimension.
Besarah is a food known since ancient Egypt. It is a vegetarian dish made with spices and herbs. After cooking it 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 the top popular Egyptian recipes, but the list does not end here many more recipes are out there for the connoisseur of Egyptian cuisine.