When it comes to the historical country of Egypt, it is currently on the top of many traveler’s bucket lists and it has many reasons to be in that position. Besides the ancient history and beautiful beaches and activities, traditional Egyptian food is another reason that many travelers remember once they visit this beautiful country. Egypt’s traditional cuisines are enriched due to the ancient history as each civilization leaves a mark on the many preparations and different ingredients to be used for specific dishes. Like most countries around the region, a huge tradition among the culture of Egypt is gathering your beloved friends and family around delicious food. Here are some of the top traditional Egyptian dishes that every visitor should try at least once whether it’s for breakfast or dessert, we are positive that your taste buds will thank us later!
- FAVA BEANS AND FALAFEL (FOOL & TA’MEYA)
One of the most common traditional breakfasts in Egyptian history is having Falafel or Fava beans first thing in the morning. Fava beans is pronounced as “Fool” in the Arabic language, is made out of cooked fava beans with oil and salt. Some people like to mix up the plate and add olive oil, vegetables and even eggs and usually eaten in sandwiches or even dipping pita bread within the plate, but none of the less it’s still an Egyptian specialty regardless how you make it. Since the fava beans require a longer preparation than usual breakfast recipes, a pre-made version in cans can be seen sold in local supermarkets and grocery stores. The beans can then be easily prepared within the likes of the stove or even the microwave. The fava beans are actually packed with essential nutrients such as carbohydrates and iron and they are actually low in saturated fats. Believe it or not, the traditional fava beans with the proper Egyptian ingredients is actually not easy to find outside of the country itself. You can find the best “fool” plates in Egypt served within street carts and usually enjoyed with the locals and common folk. Falafel on the other hand is usually made with chickpeas but the Egyptian recipe actually includes fava beans and is usually served along with a plate of “fool”, eggs, cheese and pita bread. The Egyptian recipe of Falafel includes that the fava beans are soaked overnight to soften and then crushed in a food processor which are then mixed with a fresh combination of chopped cilantro, parsley, white onion, garlic and leek, which gives Falafel its green color. Spices such as cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper are added along with chickpea flour and rolled into shapes of either donuts or balls and fried to your delight!
When it comes to traditional Egyptian food, you would be surprised that Koshary is on the top of that list of the amount of tourists that come and go and enjoy a plate at the closest Koshary restaurant. The ingredients to make Koshary is quite simple and can be found anywhere around the globe but it is definitely not enjoyed as much as when tried from an Egyptian making it from scratch. The ingredients to Koshary is rice, macaroni, lentils and chickpeas with fried onions, thick red tomato sauce and either garlic/chili/vinegar on the side of the plate depending on your preference and choosing. It is totally full of carbs and is actually considered quite cheap compared to other traditional dishes and is usually served during dinner or supper time.
The combination of Mahshy is vegetables of choice stuffed with fillings of rice, you can use zucchini, eggplants, bell peppers, tomatoes, cabbage leaves or even grapevine leaves (a popular choice among Egyptians similar to Greek Dolma) is also a favorite amongst locals and visitors and is considered a treat for the vegetarians as well. You can choose your favorite vegetable and add the rice filling, herbs (cilantro, dill and parsley), tomato sauce with flavored seasoning and a touch of cinnamon if available. Some Egyptians actually like to add the combination of minced meat within the ingredients to make it a filling meal usually served as an appetizer or main course on the side of meat or chicken for those who aren’t vegetarians. Mahshy is definitely a dish you have to try when you are visiting or living in Egypt.
The concept of Shawerma wasn’t originally something that Egyptians have created but they definably put in their own twist and made it a specialty of theirs to try as well. Originally coming from the famous Greek gyros, Shawerma is a popular street food that you have probably tried before regardless. Shawerma is made of a choice of either chicken or beef that is marinated with Middle Eastern spices and cooks all day on the split with a fat melting on the top to give it extra flavor. The meat is then shaved off and put into a wrap or bread and is nothing less than amazing. Egyptians typically serve the meat sandwiches or plates with “tahini” and the chicken is served with something called “tomaya” which is garlic sauce in Arabic. The price is average and can be a little more expensive than the common street food but it is definitely considered a healthy alternative to fast food and won’t put a mark on your budget during the day.
Contrary to popular belief, Molokhia is actually one of the top traditional dishes that you can find nowhere else than the country of Egypt to make it the best way possible. Whether you are a vegetarian or a meat lover, this popular dish is on the top of the list for either side. The ingredients of Molokhia consist of stewed made up of a leafy green that is cut into tiny pieces and can be prepared with chicken, beef or even seafood broth mixed with fried garlic and ground coriander. It is a dish that is usually served with rice, bread and a choice of meat whether chicken, beef or seafood. Believe it or not, this dish is actually made differently regarding where it is made and which region of Egypt you are visiting or residing. Cities along the coast like the popular city of Alexandria for example will cook this dish with fish and shrimps and it would be difficult to find it served otherwise unless you are asking for it in advance.
This delicious traditional dish is full of essential vitamins such as iron and potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6 and therefore is a great treat for those who are willing to experience the full Egyptian treatment.
This dish actually goes back in the historical times of Ancient Egypt where it was served in huge feasts, celebrations such as weddings and baby showers that celebrate the birth of a newborn. Nowadays, Fattah is still considered the main dish for celebrations among the Muslim people as it is the dish that is served on the first day of the Islamic feast (Eid-Al-Adha). The ingredients of Fattah consist of crispy bread mixed up with rice and meat and topped off with vinegar/tomato sauce. For the special occasions such as Eid for the Egyptian people, the meat is used from lamb that is sacrificed for religious traditions but on any other time you can have it with chicken or beef. There is also another common recipe among known among the Lebanese where it is cooked with chicken and garlic sauce.
Feseekh is a popular choice among the Egyptian people who cherish seafood. It is a fermented mullet fish that is prepared by letting the fish dry in the sun and then it is soaked within salty water for a long period of time. It is commonly served among the season of spring as it is a main dish that is served with fresh cut salad and pita bread. If you are a fan of seafood then it is a must try and possibly you will like it more than you think and one thing is for sure that this dish is also a common delicacy from the Ancient Egyptians as well.
- ROZ BIL LABAN (RICE PUDDING)
Roz Bil Laban is an exact translation of rice and milk but it is Egypt’s version of rice pudding and if you are a fan of rice pudding then this is a dessert that will not disappoint you one bit. It is rice that is cooked within milk, sometimes even with cream and it is sugar topped with pistachio pieces. It is a simple dessert that is light to the stomach as much as it is delicious to your taste buds.
- OM ALI
Om Ali is an exact translation to “Ali’s Mother” but it is a very traditional and common dessert among the Egyptian population. It is a dish that dates back to the 13th century, where it was told that Sultan Ezz El Din Aybak’s wife made it due to a victory celebration where it was made and shared among the people of the land at the time, since then it became famously known after her. It is considered as a heavy dessert that is combined with sweet flavors of bread such as puff pastry mixed with milk and sugar which is practically considered Egypt’s version of bread pudding. It is usually topped with a mix of nuts, coconut and raisins depending on how you like it and it is served hot unlike most common desserts.
The dessert of Konafa is a typical Egyptian dish that is served especially during the time of Ramadan. It is served among the Egyptian sweets during the Holy month of Ramadan as it is made in a shredded manner filled with cream or cheese, baked and served with syrup. The dish will definetly satisfy your sweet tooth and win your heart among the Egyptian people and will definetly make you try it more than once as there are many variations that are all equally satisfying regardless if you want to try the Egyptian recipe or any other Middle Eastern country that serves it differently but equally cherished.