Travelling to a popular tourist destination, such as Egypt, you have surely planned your itinerary and now know which Egyptian attractions you will visit during your stay. But have you thought about what to eat? While in Egypt, you should eat like Egyptians — or at least have a taste of their traditional dishes. We have gone through the different menus to give you a food guide to the meals that best define Egyptian cuisine and culture.
Vegetarians or meat eaters, travellers will find their craving in the diversified Egyptian kitchen, which will keep them coming back, the same way the country’s archaeological attractions do. Besides the famous delicious meals, this article will also provide information about Egyptian delights and desserts that you should try to have a whole taste of Egyptian cuisine.
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Ful Medames: An All-Day-Long Food!
Hello vegans! We have this good news for you — Ful Medames is your food treat in Egypt! This is a signature dish in almost all Egyptian restaurants serving breakfast. But, lucky you, in Egypt, this Ful Medames is usually fit for any time of the day. This Egyptian classic is served in a dish or as a sandwich to-go.
Ful Medames is a dish of stewed and mashed fava beans, with your choice of herbs, spices and oil added on top. It is also served with a squeeze of lemon juice that adds some sourness to the taste.
This dish can also be topped with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and hot peppers. Well, there are varied twists of the recipe of Ful Medames, which is typically served as a dip with warm aish baladi (pita bread).
It is very typical to see food carts serving Ful Medames, with vendors labelling it out of a large pot into pockets of aish baladi and selling it as an inexpensive takeaway sandwich. Ful Medames has been on Egyptian tables since ancient times, and it is still a main dish and a national favourite.
Falafel: Tasting the Green Burger of Egypt!
Also known as Tameya, Falafel is another vegan sandwich which is also very affordable. We are talking about ground fava beans that are fried in the shape of flat discs. A Falafel sandwich is usually sold with lettuce and tahini sauce toppings.
Because it looks very much like beef burgers, Falafel came to be known as the “green burger”. It is usually served as a breakfast sandwich. It is so prevalent in Egypt that McDonald’s included it in their breakfast menu under the name “McFalfel”.
The fava beans used in the Falafel make it a light and fluffy food. Those beans also give the Falafel its unique green colour. Falafel is always a trendy dish at any time of the day. A couple of Falafels will sure make your day!
Eggs with Cured Beef: Yummy Meat-licious!
A dish of scrambled eggs with cured beef is such a tasty breakfast. Fried with ghee or butter, the flavour of the cured beef becomes even more profound, which would surely cater to meat lovers.
It is another Egyptian classic that is either served in a dish or as a sandwich. A plate of eggs with cured beef is the cheapest answer when meat is the question!
Stuffed Pickled Eggplants: An All-Time Appetiser
This appetiser is ubiquitous in Egypt, particularly with a hearty breakfast. You can order it alone or with other morning sandwiches. Those are baby eggplants stuffed with chillies, paprika and cumin, and they taste so spicy.
Soaked in white vinegar for a few days, the stuffed eggplants are served in dishes or as sandwiches. This dish is worth a try from the appetiser menu!
Koshary: Everything in One Dish!
Have your stomach ready for a dish that contains bits of everything: brown lentils, white rice, macaroni, crispy fried onions, chickpeas, spiced tomato sauce and garlic-vinegar sauce. All this is in one dish, available in different sizes according to your budget.
This popular food is served for lunch. Looking at the ingredients, it groups the leftovers of almost everything that could be a stand-alone dish. Now this mix is one of the comfort foods in Egypt.
What is distinctive about Koshary is that it is not served in any restaurant. Koshary is only done in Koshary shops, which have no other dishes on their menus. It is a perfect cheap meal that will fill your stomach without emptying your pockets.
Molokhiya: A Bowl of Green Soup, Please!
Finely chopped and boiled jute leaves, with sautéed garlic, coriander and seasoning — Molokhiya is another classic comfort food in Egypt. You might not find its green colour and dense texture very appealing at the beginning, but once you have tried it, you will reconsider that.
It is a national dish that is served with rice or flatbread. Egyptians have a fantastic way of eating Molokhiya with bread by rolling the loaf in the shape of a cat’s ear to be able to hold the soup inside.
A bowl of green soup could come as a side dish with meat, roasted chicken or seafood. Whatever you decide, don’t forget to try a Molokhiya dip!
Kebda Eskandarani: Beef Liver as Served in Alexandria
Beef liver is a famous dish in Egypt, but residents of Alexandria have their own variations of the recipe. The Alexandrian beef liver is so delicious that it is now the preferred way across Egypt.
With garlic, cumin, cardamom and chilli peppers, a sandwich of Kebda Eskandarani is a typical street food. You can also order it served with a dish of white rice, and do not forget to have a squeeze of lemon juice added for a sour taste.
Kofta & Kebab: Meat Lovers Gather Here!
Served as Egyptian-style sausages, Kofta will be an excellent choice of meat for lunch. Minced meat with a handful of spices, rolled, then grilled — and your dish is ready. You might also want to try Egyptian Kebab — another dish of grilled meat cut into pieces or served on a skewer.
Whether Kofta or Kebab, order your dish of choice with rice for a fully-fledged lunch that is also served with dips and veggies.
Hamam Mahshi: Eating Pigeons!
This dish is a delicacy in Egypt. You might think to yourself — Oh God, they are having rats in the sky for food! But believe it or not, this dish is not an everyday meal and is most probably served in receptions or on occasion.
Stuffed pigeons can, however, be found in restaurants and ready to serve at any time. Those birds are either filled with rice or bulgur wheat — you decide what to go for! The filling also contains onions and spices, making the taste even more delicious. The stuffed squab is either grilled or baked.
Fiteer Baladi: Have a Slice of the Egyptian Pizza!
If you are a pizza freak, you should try Egypt’s Fiteer Baladi. What is different about the Fiteer Baladi is that it is super buttery, though it is still very much like pizza. Layers of filo pastry make up this fantastic dish that is served plain right from the brick oven.
A plain Fiteer Baladi is a traditional dish. New variations have been introduced over the years, and now you can order your Fiteer Baladi with meat, cheese or vegetable. Guess what? The Fiteer Baladi can also be served as a dessert with sweet syrup, honey or sugar.
Speaking of desserts, have you thought about the best Egyptian delights? No worries, we have you covered here as well. Read on to learn about the top Egyptian desserts you should try while visiting Egypt.
Basbousa: A Cake Made of Semolina
Now, this is something you must treat your taste buds to. Baked with love, Basbousa is a mixture of coconut-flavoured semolina flour with yoghurt, butter and sugar added to the dough.
It is then soaked in citrus syrup, making it super moist and flavoury. A Basbousa cake is often cut into rectangular pieces and served with almonds on top.
This dish originated in Egypt and is considered the most flavoursome. It is a must-try!
Om Ali: The Egyptian Bread Pudding
Om Ali, translated into “mother of Ali”, is an ancient dish with a story to tell. It is said that the first wife of ancient Egyptian emperor Ezz Al Din Ayybak had her chefs invent this dessert to celebrate his death or, as another story suggests, the death of his second wife, Shajarat al-Durr.
The name of the first wife was Om Ali, and so the invented dessert was named after her. The dish is now very trendy in Egypt, despite the blood story. It is made of pieces of puff pastry, croissants, or mille-feuille drowned in milk, with butter, cream, nuts and sugar added to the mixture, which is now ready to be baked into Om Ali. This traditional dessert is served warm.
Kunafa: Shredded Phyllo in a Pan!
Dating back to the Fatimid era, Kunafa is a popular dessert in Egypt, so delicious that it will leave you speechless. It is made of two layers of shredded phyllo, cut into small pieces, stuffed with custard or nuts, and soaked in sugar-based syrup after being baked. Well, that’s the traditional way.
Modern variations have been introduced to this popular dish, with mango, Nutella spread, and Lotus spread fillings now on the menu. This Egyptian favourite will become your favourite!
The Egyptian Tea Culture
Egypt has its own tea culture that is not like other countries. Egyptians drink tea at any time of the day. It is commonly served after every meal and with desserts.
Black tea is best served with mint, an Egyptian touch meant to add a pleasant taste to the brewed drink — this is called the Koshary style, which is typical of northern Egypt. You can also order your tea the Saiidi way, which is more common in southern Egypt. There they have the tea boiled over an extended time till it becomes bitter, and they add spoons of sugar to balance the taste. Tea is the cheapest beverage in Egypt.
Now that you have some insider tips about Egyptian cuisine, it will be easier for you to decide which dishes to try and which restaurants to dine in. Remember to tell us which traditional dish you like the most. But for now, bon appetite!