Egyptian Cuisine

Egypt’s rich and extensive history has fused cultures worldwide to produce an incomparable gastronomic experience. Below is a small sample of all the tasty goodness Egypt has to offer.

Hamam Mahshi (Stuffed Pigeon):
These small pigeons are stuffed with rice or “fereek” (green wheat) and then roasted. While eating, it is recommended that you watch out for the tiny bones. One of Egypt’s most loved dishes is worth trying, you will find many places that serve this specialty at the entrance to Khan el Khalili in Cairo, and it can also be found at upscale eateries. The pigeon has a different taste than chicken, and the meat is a little darker; it is full of flavor, and the stuffing is delectable.

Egyptian Kofta:
This one is for the beef or lamb lovers. You must have had Kofta before; maybe you called it Kefteh, Kefta, or Sikh kebab, so many names all point to the same deliciousness!
Kofta is the burger meat in the Middle East. Adding lamb meat to the recipe gives it a richer flavor, but feel free to omit that if you do not like lamb meat.
One of the most natural preparations for beef and lamb is that it is fashionable to make at home or buy from a recipe for your next family dinner. Mom showed me a nice trick to give it the charcoal flavor all year round with starting that grill in the backyard.

Dawood Basha:
Made with small Kofta (ground meat with parsley and onions), cooked in a thick tomato sauce served with rice and garnished with roasted pine nuts, this hearty and delicious meal is a favorite the Middle East. The best Dawood Basha is made with lamb and cooked home, but many restaurants feature it on their menus. You know it is cooked right when the tomato sauce does not overpower the taste of the meat. This dish was named after a prominent Ottoman politician.

Roasted Chicken & Potatoes:
It is one of the simplest and tastiest ways to enjoy chicken and add any extra fat, oil, or butter.
When the smell of roasted chicken fills the house, you know you are in for a good meal.

Made from the leafy green vegetable called mallow in the West and eaten throughout the Middle East, it is a stew with a soup-like texture, usually cooked with chicken or rabbit, and flavored with coriander and lots of garlic. Served with rice, it is delicious, healthy, and filling. Variations on Mouloukhiya are many; some cook it with chunks of lamb or chicken and lamb together. It is also served with different garnishes, ranging from a spicy tomato dressing to lemon juice to vinegar and chopped onions.

Shawarma is thinly sliced cuts of meat, like chicken, beef, goat, lamb, and sometimes rolled into a large piece of flatbread or pita that has been steamed or heated.
Inside, foods like hummus, tahini, pickles, vegetables, and even French fries were added. Think of shawarma as a Middle Eastern-style taco or burrito.
Raw meat placed on large, rotating cones. As it turns, the meat is cooked by a heat source located behind the actual funnel.
The meat slowly falls off or is thinly sliced by a chef with a large knife. It can take several hours to cook thoroughly.
Shawarma often is served with fries, salads like tabouleh, falafel, and just by itself for a quick bite on the go. In some places, it is done alone, without pita or flatbread.

Liver, Alexandria Style:
Egyptians get their “liver fix” either from street food carts or fast-food shops. They enjoy their stir-fried liver served in small plates with fresh chili peppers, lime wedges, and warm pitas.
For a quick bite or an order to go, they pick up their liver sandwiches made with Egyptian mini baguettes or bread rolls with sides of French fries and mixed pickles.
The recipe for Alexandria style liver is famous throughout Egypt. It is a quick and easy recipe that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. The hardest step in making it is cutting the liver into small pieces since this offal is quite slippery. The trick to save you time is to cut it up while frozen, then leave it to thaw.

Fatta is one of Egypt’s favorite dishes and a perfect Iftar meal. No One can resist Beef Shank over the Egyptian Fatta plate.
Most probably, Fatta relates to the word fetata, which means a small piece of bread or what we cutely call it in Egypt: fatfoota.
If you like a lamb, this is a hearty dish that you eat; then, it leaves you in awe reminiscing about the flavors you just savored.
Slow-cooked lamb seared on a bed of spices is covered in pieces of crispy-fried bread, rice, and a mouth-watering tomato-based sauce.

Egypt has loads of shorelines, and so, fresh seafood is abundant and delicious. Have some of today’s catch fried in olive oil, grilled over hot coals, or cooked in a “Tajin” (clay pot). The fish most eaten in Egypt is ‘balti,’ a grey silverfish that is long and almost flat, or ‘bouri,’ known in the West as mullet. ‘Gambari’ and ‘calamari,’ prawns, and squid, respectively, are also typical delicacies.

Ful Medammes:
An Egyptian Fava Beans Chili, Also called “Ful,” “Ful Medammes,” is one of Egypt’s favorite, cheapest, and most popular quick eats. It consists of slow-cooked fava beans seasoned with salt, garlic, chopped parsley, lemon, olive oil, black pepper, and cumin. “Ful” is usually eaten at breakfast, but you can buy it at any time of the day, in the small shop around the corner, or at any restaurant serving local and middle eastern food. It is usually served with bread (Aish), which comes in handy to scoop out the small beans. Enjoy!

Taameya, known in other Middle Eastern countries as falafel, this delicious vegetarian-friendly food is a staple in Egypt. It is pounded broad beans mixed with lots of spices, molded into the shape of a miniature doughnut, deep-fried until it is sweet and crunchy, and then made into a sandwich with lots of vegetables tahini sauce. It is one of the Egyptian versions of snack food, and the best taameya is usually found at street vendors or small family shops.

Perhaps the most famous Egyptian snack food is Koshari. Street vendors and small shops sell it throughout Egypt, and a sure sign that a place offers Koshari is a great big silver pot in the window. Made from rice, lentils, fried onions, and pasta, then coated in a thick tomato sauce, which can sometimes be quite spicy, it is the all-time Egyptian favorite. Add some vinegar with garlic to the mix, and you have a tasty, economical, and exciting lunch or dinner.

Aish Baladi:
In Arabic, Aish means life, and bread is the essential component of every meal for the Egyptian people. It is usually made with a mixture of the whole meal and white flour and then backed near an open flame, resulting in a pita-like result. Aish Baladi is found just about anywhere in Egypt, from street vendors to supermarkets; Aish Mirahrah is thinner and crispier, resembling chapatti. It is in more rural areas. Aish is used to scoop up food and make sandwiches of taameya or shawarma (strips of grilled meat or chicken).

Purple and refreshing, what could be better? Karkadeh is made by boiling dried red original hibiscus flowers and then chilling the water. The flavor is between sweet and sour with a little sugar, and nothing tastes quite as strong as you cruise down the Nile. It can also be enjoyed hot as an herbal tea and has several benefits; it is a good source of Vitamin C and minerals, and in large amounts, it can use to fight high blood pressure.

Umm Ali:
Made with layers of bread soaked in hot milk and bursting with raisins and sometimes nuts, then baked in the oven until the surface is golden brown, this Egyptian specialty loved around the Middle East. The result is a creamy cake-like finish with raisin explosions in your mouth. The best Umm Ali is home-cooked, but you will find it at most local Egyptian restaurants; it is also regularly served on Nile Cruisers.

Butter Cookies (Ghorayeba):
It does not matter what Egyptians are celebrating; food will be there! And depending on the holiday, cookies may be the star of the occasion, like during Eid-ul-Fitr or Christmas. The butter cookies we are making here, called Ghorayeba in Egyptian, are bite-size cookies that quickly melt in your mouth and leave you desiring for more. Watch out for that kid next to the cookie plate; otherwise, I promise, the dish will be empty in no time.

Get Updates & More

Thoughtful thoughts to your inbox