Food and Drink in Egypt

The Egypt cuisine combines elements from across the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Greece and France, reflecting the diverse influences that have shaped her history. The influences vary across the country. Mediterranean influence is more apparent in Alexandria, while in Aswan the influence of Nubian culture and Sudan is more prominent.


There is a wide variety of offerings available ranging from the cheap food carts and street food that serve Egypt’s working class to fancy restaurants that cater solely to tourists and the upper class.

In the streets of any Egyptian street, it is easy to find an assortment of small cafes and food carts that serve cheap meals for as little as a 5 or 6 LE. The staples of the Egyptian diet, fuul, taamiya, and bread (‘aish, which means both ‘bread’ and ‘life’ in Egyptian Arabic), are easy to find. Cafes and small restaurants make several other types of typical Egyptian fare easy to find at affordable prices.

Bread is eaten with all meals and comes as two types of flatbread: ‘aish Baladi, prepared from coarse whole wheat flour, and ‘aish Shamsi, cooked with finer white flour.

Fuul is slow cooked, mashed fava bean, often eaten as a satisfying first meal in the form of sandwiches made with flat bread, tomatoes, onions, spices, and chopped hard-boiled eggs.
Taamiya is the Egyptian word for falafel, the fried patties of spices and chickpeas that are popular throughout the Middle East. It is usually served in sandwiches with tomatoes, pickles, and tahina (sauce made from sesame paste).

Koshary is another traditional Egyptian staple that is available in simple restaurants identifiable by the large vats of pasta and rice seen in the windows. It consists of pasta, rice, chickpeas, lentils, and fried onions topped with a tomato-garlic sauce. Even a large portion only costs about 20 LE.

Fiteer is something like a cross between a pizza and pancakes. The soft-layered pastry is prepared with a wide variety of toppings ranging from cheese and vegetables to sugar or honey. Ranging from 30 LE up to around 90 LE, depending on the size and toppings

Shawarma is chopped chicken or lamb that is usually cooked on brazers visible from the street. Served on several types of bread, this is a delicious (and superior) version of the doner kebabs that are widely available in most European cities. Prices between 25 and 35 LE depending on size.

For small snacks, there are also nut and sweet shops (ma’la) available on most major streets. They offer a variety of seeds and nuts, as well as candies, chocolate, and drinks. Fruit is also excellent in Egypt. You will see the fruit of the season on sale on the side of the roads. It is generally very cheap, except for apple, which are imported.

Food is small restaurants is generally safe to eat. Food carts can be more suspect and we recommend never eating any food that is not hot or prepared for your order.
Beyond the basic Egyptian staples, a wide variety of food is available in more expensive restaurants that cater to the middle class and tourists. 

Classic Egyptian offering in restaurants includes kofta or kebab with an assortment of salads and dips (hummus, tahina, babaganoug, etc...) or grilled chicken. Stuffed pigeon is also a popular dish. The small birds are stuff with spiced rice or wheat. Mahshee, vegetables or vine leaves stuffed with rice, is also a popular appetizer along with other mezze (plates of olives or potatoes and vegetables prepared in a variety of ways). A meal can be expected to cost between100 and 200 LE a person.

In Cairo’s wealthier neighbourhoods, there are also a variety of upscale restaurants that serve different cuisines from around the world. These restaurants tend to be more expensive and the prices can reach over 300 LE a person.
Fish and seafood restaurants are also popular, especially in Alexandria, Aswan, and on the coast, where there is more ready access to the sea or Lake Nasser. Nile perch, snapper, sea bass, squid or shrimp will usually be sold fresh out of an icebox by the kilo and then grilled or fried.

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