Egyptian cuisine you might say, is hardly setting the world alight. Egypt is surrounded by food that is famous the world over, such as Morocco, Turkey and Syria for example. You are unlikely to find all that many places selling Egyptian cuisine around the world though.
In many respects, the cuisine is a mix-match of those around it. Much like Cambodia for example.
To read about Cambodian cuisine click here.
Egypt does have its own take on things, and there are certainly some uniquely Egyptian foods to be had–the Egyptian Baclava being one of the first to spring to mind!
Breakfast in Egypt
Breakfast in Egypt is very similar to other Arab and North African countries. It consists of fruit, bread and cheeses–bread and cheeses being a real mainstay of the Egyptian diet. Eggah is a type of Egyptian omelette that would also make a fab breakfast!
Lunches and main courses in Egypt
Egyptian cuisine follows the traditional Mediterranean style meze! Or as they call it in these parts muqabilat (مقبلات). It’s a selection of salads, cheeses and breads that are served before the main courses of a meal. The idea being that they be shared around the table. Very comparable to tapas.
Some examples include common regional dishes such as falafel, duqqa and torshi (pickled vegetables).
Main Courses in Egypt
Lentils, rice, pasta, fave beans, pasta, chicken, and even rabbit all form major components of Egyptian cuisine. Ancient Egyptians are known to have used Garlic in their cooking and this is very much still in vogue today.
Top Egyptian Dishes
Egyptian Kabab – Like a kebab only spelt differently! Usually lamb grilled on skewers and served with one kind of salad.
To read about the English kebab click here
Kushari – An Egyptian dish invented in the 19th century. It consists of rice macaroni and lentils mixed together topped with a spiced tomato sauce, and garlic vinegar; garnished with chickpeas and crispy fried onions. You can then add MORE Garlic sauce, or vinegar. Not much kissing after this one. This is an extremely popular street food, that you will surely eat in Egypt.
Macaroni béchamel – The Egyptian variant of a lasagna! Yep Egyptian lasagna. The main difference being that it is (mostly) without cheese. It’s a mixture of penne macaroni and béchamel sauce, and usually two layers of cooked spiced meat with onions. Also it includes an Egyptian cheese similar to Sardo.
Shawarma – You cannot go anywhere around these parts without bumping into this! Not dissimilar to other variants of the region. It’s simply meat mixed on a griddle with chopped tomato, onion and parsley before being rolled in a large disc of flatbread and wrapped in foil to take away. No French fries
Pigeon – No not the dirty kind you see around Trafalgar Square. These are bred across the country to be eaten. Pigeons (Hamaam) are stuffed with rice, or wheat and then grilled, or better still, baked.
Obviously there are a lot of other great dishes in Egypt, but these are just 5 to whet your appetite.
If you have a sweet tooth, you will be happy to know that so do the Egyptians, hurrah!
Egyptian Baclava – worthy of its own article entirely. These are syrup drenched, nut filled pastries that are extremely popular throughout the region. Egyptian style baclava includes konafa, which has a cream base with a crunchy vermicelli pastry crust and Basbousa,which is made of semolina pastry soaked in honey and topped with hazelnuts. Egyptian baclava is a must!
Drinking in Egypt
Despite being a Muslim country the government is largely secular and because of the tourist industry, alcohol consumption is legal.
Egyptian Beer! – Egyptians love beer, in fact it counts for 54% of all alcohol consumed by Egyptians. There’s one for a pub quiz.
Bouza (Egyptian Arabic: بوظة), based on barley and bread, Bouza has been drunk in Egypt since ancient times. A bit comparable to mead and well worth a try if you are into that kind of thing.
Egyptian Wine – It might not be conquering the French yet, but Egyptian wine is growing in popularity. To give some context it is the 54th most sold wine in the world. After Belgium, but before the UK. It can be purchased relatively cheaply and is decent.
Egyptian tea – Tea (شاى, shai [ʃæːj]) is the national drink in Egypt. Like other countries of the region, such as Sudan you will see it EVERYWHERE. A great place to sit and chew the fat whilst drinking pipping hot and very sweet tea. It’s one of the few jobs still done exclusively by women.
Vimto – When I was in Sudan, I was blown away to see the English drink Vimto. On further investigation I found it was due to the Arab world’s boycott of coke. Vimto stepped in and is now the most popular soft drink in the country.
To read about Vimto click here.
And that is our brief guide to the wonderful cuisine of Egypt!