Egypt’s Delicious Delicacies: Exquisite Eats to Enjoy
If you’re looking for an exotic– and delicious– culinary experience, then Egypt is the place for you! From the potent flavors of spice to the distinctive aromas of aromatic herbs, Egypt has a host of delicious specialties that are sure to tantalize your taste buds. In this article, you’ll find a guide to some of the country’s most exquisite eats and learn why Egypt is known as a foodie’s paradise. Bon appétit!
1. Introduction to Egyptian Cuisine
Good to Know: The cuisine of Egypt is varied and unique, fusing the ancient and modern. Its roots lie in the Middle East but its influence is best seen in North Africa. From the flavorful dishes of Cairo to the delightful deserts of the Red Sea coast, there are many delicious delicacies to explore.
Dietary Staples: Wheat and barley are essential staples of Egyptian cuisine, often served in breads and pastries. Rice and vegetables also form a major part of the Egyptian diet, while chicken and fish are often found in dishes and served with numerous spices.
- Kushari: A traditional dish made from lentils, vermicelli, rice and chickpeas topped with a spiced tomato sauce.
- Ful medames: Delicious mashed fava beans served with chopped tomatoes, olive oil, parsley and radishes.
- Kofta: Skewers of minced meat grilled over charcoal.
- Mahshi: Cabbage leaves or other vegetables stuffed with rice and herbs.
- Falafel: Traditional Egyptian snack made from finely ground chickpeas.
- Kebab: Traditional kebab of beef or chicken grilled over charcoal and served on skewers with tomatoes and onions.
- Ta’amiya: Popular street food sandwich made from mashed fava beans, parsley, cilantro, onions and other spices.
- 36 hours of za’atar: An Egyptian recipe from the Gazan cuisine, which includes 36 hours of steeping, slow-cooking and seasoning of za’atar with various herbs and spices.
- Molokhia: A green, spinach-like dish enriched with butter, garlic and lemon sauce, and often served with chicken or beef.
Desserts to Savor: Yummy desserts such as Basbousa, Kounafa, and Om Ali are popular choices to satisfy the sweet tooth. A classic favorite is Kahk, a festive cookie made with dates, walnuts and stuffing, baked and decorated with powdered sugars and spices. Baklava is a popular Middle Eastern pastry made with layers of phyllo dough filled with nuts and spices, and drizzled in a sweet syrup.
2. Exploring Traditional Dishes
As a land steeped in ancient history, Egypt is blessed with a selection of delectable dishes. From the comfort of a spiced shawarma to the classic simplicity of koshary, nothing captures the flavors of the country like its unique culinary delights.
- Shawarma is a classic Egyptian dish that is both flavorful and hearty. Commonly served in pita bread or a wrap, shawarma is a flavor-filled meal that’s packed with protein. Minced lamb or chicken are marinated in a blend of spices for hours or even days beforehand, then cooked over a rotating skewer. The meat is shaved off and served with a traditional tahini sauce, tomatoes, pickles, and onions.
- Koshary is perhaps Egypt’s most famous dish. Worn by street vendors and served in restaurants alike, this hearty mix of rice, macaroni, and lentils is dressed with a selection of sauces that can include garlic, vinegar, and a spicy chili pepper mix. Softly toasted chickpeas are mixed in for additional texture, and sliced onions are added for a touch of sweetness.
- Ful Medames is a simple yet delicious breakfast food that’s widely popular throughout Egypt. Made with fava beans cooked in a mix of oil and spices, it’s an incredibly nutrient-dense meal that’s often served with a side of warm pita bread. For an extra tasty twist, Ful Medames can be topped with hard-boiled eggs, olive oil, and lemon juice.
- Mahashi is a vegetable dish that’s widely served throughout the country. It consists of stuffed peppers and eggplants filled with a flavor-packed mixture of tomatoes, onions, and parsley. Rice is also combined in for a savory filling that’s amplified by the vegetables’ natural sweetness. Mahashi is typically cooked in an oven, though sometimes it’s cooked in a wok or on the stove with a bit of oil.
- Fattah is a dish of Arabic origin that’s bursting with flavor. A combination of boiled rice, toasted pita bread, and spiced meats is placed in a rich tomato and chili sauce for a hearty and filling dish. The sauce is slowly cooked on the stove until it reaches a thick, creamy consistency, then served with a sprinkle of roasted nuts.
Egypt’s cuisine is a true testament to the country’s exceptional history. People have enjoyed these delightful dishes for centuries, and they remain as popular today as ever. So why not explore these traditional delicacies and discover the flavor of Egypt?
3. Unique Street Eats
Egypt is home to an incredible array of delicious street eats. From tasty sandwiches to crunchy snacks, there are some truly unique and mouthwatering dishes that should not be missed. Whether you’re looking for a snack on your way to explore Cairo’s ancient Old City or just want to savor something unique and flavorful, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Here are some of the most popular delicacies that you can find while exploring Egypt’s streets:
A classic Egyptian street food, falafel is a fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, beans, or both. This tasty treat is usually served in pita or with a side of tahini sauce.
Kofta is a popular dish consisting of ground meat (such as beef or lamb) that is shaped into oval or round balls and served on sticks. It is usually cooked over a charcoal grill, giving it a smoky flavor, and is often served with a side of Hummus or tahini dip.
Ful Medames is a type of slow-cooked fava bean stew often served as breakfast, snack, or light meal. It features a medley of spices such as cumin, garlic, and chili powder, and is often topped with diced tomatoes, onion, parsley, and a drizzle of lemon juice or vinegar.
Kebab is a dish popular throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It is made with different kinds of meat such as chicken, beef, lamb, and even fish. The meat is marinated in spices and then grilled and served with a side of Hummus or tahini sauce.
Besara is a traditional Egyptian sandwich similar to falafel, but made with a fava bean paste instead of chickpeas or beans. It is usually served in pita bread, with tomatoes, pickles, and a variety of sauces and condiments.
Koshari is a popular street food in Egypt made with a combination of lentils, rice, macaroni, and chickpeas. It is then topped with a spicy red sauce and garnished with fried onions. This unique dish is perfect for an afternoon snack or a light meal.
So, as you can see, there are an array of delicious delights out there waiting to be sampled! Whether you’re looking for an exotic breakfast or just a snack on the go, Egypt’s street eats are sure to satisfy.
4. Vegetarian Options
When planning a meal in Egypt, don’t forget to consider the amazing that the country has to offer. From classic falafels with spicy sauce to fresh salads, vegetarian eats will undoubtedly add the perfect touch to your get-together. Here are five exquisite vegetarian dishes to try while you’re in Egypt:
Mulukhiyah: Also known as Jew’s mallow, this leafy vegetable is stewed with onion, garlic, pepper, and coriander and then squeezed with lemon juice to bring out the flavor.
Ful Medammes: Enjoy a delicious breakfast made of fava beans cooked in herbs and spices, olive oil, garlic, and chopped tomatoes.
Koshari: Perfect for a snack or light meal, this dish is a flavorful mix of lentils, rice, macaroni, and a spicy tomato sauce.
Fasouliyat: Try this amazing combination of white or brown beans, garlic, cumin, tomato, and parsley.
Salata Rasmisa: A refreshing salad made of lettuce, tomato, cleansing cucumber, boiled potatoes, onions, and coriander.
And don’t forget the classic falafel with its delicious fried chickpea patties served with tahini sauce! Enjoy these vegetarian delicacies and more on your visit to Egypt!
5. Sumptuous Sweets
1. Balah El-Sham: Famous in Egypt, balah el-sham is a sweet, chewy, and fluffy pastry that’s similar to honey-soaked brioche. This popular treat is usually topped with almonds, walnuts, or both for an extra layer of crunchy sweetness. It’s widely enjoyed as a snack or dessert and is the perfect companion to your morning cup of tea or coffee.
2. Om Ali: If you like decadence, this is your dessert. Om Ali – which translates as ‘Ali’s mother’ – is a traditional type of Egyptian-style bread pudding, made with flaky puff pastry, mixed nuts, and lots of creamy milk. The result is a to-die-for sweet that’s sure to satisfy any craving.
3. Basbousa: A delicious semolina-based dessert, basbousa is made using simple ingredients including sugar, nuts, coconut, and rosewater. It’s crunchy, sweet, and fragrant. Enjoy a piece with a cup of tea or a glass of cold milk. Basbousa is an especially popular treat during Ramadan.
4. Zalabia: A- favorite among travelers in Egypt, zalabia is a type of fried doughnut. Sweet, fragrant, and perfectly crunchy, this sugary treat is usually served with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkling of crunchy nuts. It’s a great snack to enjoy when walking through the streets of Cairo or enjoying the shores of Alexandria.
5. Baklava: This dessert is believed to have been around for centuries. The traditional Arabic baklava is made with layers of filo pastry, honey, and nuts or dried fruit. Every region in Egypt has their own unique take on the dessert, but all variations are sweet, deliciously sticky, and sinfully good.
6. Konafa: Also known as ‘Namoura’, konafa is a popular fried pastry made with yogurt, custard, or sweet cheese. This heavenly treat is topped with shredded pistachios or nuts or a dusting of ground cinnamon for an extra layer of deliciousness. It’s often served as a dessert after a traditional Egyptian meal.
6. Enjoying Mezze in Egypt
Egypt is renowned for its unique mezze, a selection of small, flavor-packed dishes, perfect for sharing. Whether you’re visiting for the first time or returning to take in the sights, you simply must experience these exquisite eats!
- Kushari: This classic dish is a combination of rice, noodles and lentils, all cooked in a flavorful tomato sauce. Fiery chillis are also a popular accompaniment, so be sure to try some to take your Kushari up a notch!
- Ta’amiya: Move over falafel, there’s a new vegan sensation in town! A fried patty of pureed fava beans, seasonings and spices, Ta’amiya is an aromatic and mouth-watering snack sure to delight any vegan traveler.
- Kebda: Liver lovers rejoice! Kebda is a pan-fried dish usually made from lamb liver, but can also be made with beef liver, seasoned with garlic, cumin and coriander.
- Fattah: This heartwarming dish is made from cooked rice, a spiced tomato sauce and crispy pieces of toasted Lebanese bread. It is a popular dish during religious holidays and is usually served with yogurt or a boiled egg.
Each region of Egypt demonstrates a unique, cultural diversity when it comes to food, and no journey is complete without trying the locals’ favorite dishes. Whether you’re a meat-eater, vegan or vegetarian, you’re sure to find something to tantalize your taste buds. So go ahead and tuck into a selection of mezze and enjoy the delicious tastes of Egypt!
7. Where To Try Delicious Delicacies
If you find yourself in the bustling, fast-paced environment of Egypt’s capital city of Cairo, why not take a break and enjoy some of the delicious and exquisite eats that the city has to offer? You can start your journey of culinary delight at the wonderful Al-Azhar Park, a great spot if you’re looking to experience the city’s flavours in an oasis of tranquillity and relaxation. Whether you’re a fan of traditional koshari, foul medames or freshly made foul, you’ll find no shortage of choices at Al-Azhar Park.
For an unforgettable, non-traditional Egyptian food experience, you should try the incredible fare at Al-Shabrawy’s Steak House. With a variety of steaks and cuts of beef that are freshly grilled and cooked to perfection, this restaurant is a must-try while in Cairo.
One of the most picturesque cities on the Mediterranean Sea, Alexandria is home to a plethora of unique dining experiences. When in the area, you should definitely make a pit stop at El Fishawy, one of the oldest coffeehouses in Egypt. This historic establishment has been around since 1773 and serves up some of the most delicious tea, coffee, and snacks in the area.
For a truly luxurious experience, dinner at La Bodeguita is the perfect choice. With stunning, breathtaking views of the Mediterranean serving as a backdrop, the specially prepared seafood dishes here are like nothing else. You can choose from a variety of delicacies like the beautifully marinated Stuffed Squid or the delicious, plump Grilled Shrimp.
From the bustling streets of Cairo to the picturesque Mediterranean harbour of Alexandria, Egypt offers no shortage of delicious and exquisite eats. So, if you’re looking for something new and interesting to try, Egypt has got you covered. Bon appetit!
That’s it for our tour of some of the delicious delights Egypt has to offer! Remember—Egypt’s cuisine is about so much more than just shawarma and koshary. But if you’re ready for something a little different, give one of these culinary creations a try and enjoy Egypt’s exquisite eats.