Traditional Egyptian Food
Egyptian food is one of the most authentic and delicious foods in the world. Within a combination of elements from across the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Greece and France, reflecting the diverse influences that Egyptian have had throughout its history, Egyptian chefs often put their own spin on their version of the most beloved foods in Egypt.
You might, for instance, find that hummus can be flavored with cumin or mixed with beets, and the influences vary across the country. Mediterranean influence is more apparent in Alexandria, a north coast city, while in Aswan in the south, the influence of Nubian culture and Sudan is more prominent.
While trotting through the streets of Egypt, it is easy to find an assortment of small cafes and food carts that serve very traditional meals for as little as 10 or 15 LE. The staples of the Egyptian diet consist of “Ful, Taameya (Egyptian Falafel), and Aish (which means both ‘bread’ and ‘life’ in Egyptian Arabic). Food and drinks in Egypt is definitely going to make your mouth water.
Egypt is proud to produce one of the best-tasting bread in the whole world, with a mix of flour and special manufacturing which started in ancient Egypt. The Baladi Bread, Aish Baladi, is one of Egypt’s best treasures and is enjoyed by most of those who live in Egypt or by visitors who travel to Egypt.
Egypt food is an extreme vegetarian and vegan friendly place for those who follow a strict diet. Particularly inland, you’ll find numerous delicious meals prepared from vegetables, legumes, and of course spices. Also, Egyptian snacks such as dates and nuts are very common as part of Egyptians lifestyle. Here are a few examples of Egyptians favorite vegan and vegetarian foods:
Koshari is a dish with roots in 19th-century Egypt, now consumed at food carts and restaurants nationwide Koshari Ingredients include macaroni, lentils, and rice along with a tomato sauce and it’s often topped with chickpeas and fried onions. If you like hot food then a splash of hot sauce will take the flavor to a next level.
Taameya is the famous Egyptian word for falafel. The fried patties of spices and chickpeas that are popular throughout the Middle East is prepared with fava beans instead and lots of green herbs giving it a bright green color. It is usually served in sandwiches with tomatoes, pickles, and tahina (sauce made from sesame paste) or just on its own as a snack or breakfast meal.
One of the most common tradition when it comes to Egyptian food with a history stretching back centuries, often eaten as a satisfying first meal, breakfast, in the form of sandwiches made with baladi bread, tomatoes, onions, spices, and chopped hard-boiled eggs is Ful. Ful consists of cooked fava beans plus various herbs and spices such as cummin, tahina, olive oil and lemon juice.
Egyptian Mezze (Egyptian dips / small dishes)
Mezze is a small serving of Egyptian dip (tapas). An Egyptian meal usually includes over ten plates of different food. Egyptian tables are consisted if a lot of variety even if the meal is served for only one or two people. Here a few delicious small plates, from the Egyptian cuisine, which are usually served just before a main course with the delicious Baladi bread:
One of Egypt’s best entrees, Baba Ghanoush is a delicious dip made out of eggplant and tahini with lemon and olive oil, seriously addictive and with so many health benefits, this dish goes well with most foods and is commonly eaten throughout the whole country of Egypt.
Consisted of over braised eggplant or potato dish with tomato sauce and sometimes ground beef and it is a very famous dish in the Egyptian cuisine.
Famous all over the world, Hummus is another open act in every Egyptians table. Consisted of mashed chickpeas with tahini, olive oil and lemon juice, hummus is delicious and very popular in the Middle East and Mediterranean cuisine.
Cheese is another mark of Egyptian cuisine. Egyptians love cheese, and they are very good at combining cheese with other elements. Over 5000 years ago, during the First Dynasty of Egypt, people in the area were already making cheese, and how do we know that? Remnants of cheese were found in ancient alabaster jars at Saqqara.
Cheese remained in Egyptian diet over the years, and during the Middle Ages, the city of Damietta grew famous for the cheese it produced. Fried cheese was a medieval Egyptian treat.
So when you’re strolling the streets of Cairo or Luxor nowadays, here are a few types of cheese you might want to try.
With a high amount of salt, Mish is a fermented cheese often made at home in rural areas. It is served with Baladi bread and salads.
Domiati cheese has a long history and takes its name from Damietta. This extremely popular soft white cheese is typically made from cow or buffalo milk and is served with Baladi bread and also great with dates too.
Also a soft white cheese, this time made from laban rayeb, a form of curdled milk. Areesh cheese is delicious and very popular among Egyptians.
A traditional Egyptian food, Roumy cheese is a hard yellow cheese made out of the combination of cow and buffalo milk and it is enjoyed in melted cheese sandwiches and is used in some Egyptian recipes too.
Meat and Poultry Dishes
Egyptians love their meat and they are grill kings when it comes to preparing BBQ food. With some of the best lamb, beef and bird quality of meat compared to the rest of the world, Egypt makes the best BBQ in the world. Here are few of the many very popular meat and poultry dishes in Egypt.
Fatteh is a celebratory meal often eaten in Eid Al-Adh. It is made from lamb meat, rice, bread, and tomato sauce, seriously delicious.
A very traditional Egyptian dish made out of bread stuffed with minced meat and sometimes cheese and vegetables, Hawawshi is like an oven fried pizza that is just phenomenal.
Kebda or beef liver is one of the most traditional meat dishes in Egypt and it's full of flavor while grilled with green chilli peppers and oil, a real treat.
It is consisted of small chopped chicken or lamb and usually slow-cooked brazzers 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.
A real classic in Egyptian gatherings, stuffed pigeon is consisted of a special raised pigeon stuffed with rice and double cooked in a pot and in the over with lots of different spices. A real delicacy that is just mouth-watering!
Fish and Seafood
If you’re traveling along the coast or staying in the north coast city of Alexandria, you’ll have great access to fresh fish and seafood right out of the Mediterranean and possibly some of the best seafood you will ever have.
Fish and seafood is also popular in the city of Aswan, and on the coast, where there is more ready access to the Red 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 right there on the streets at the small fish markets.
Egyptian deserts have a lot of influence from the Middle Eastern cuisines such as Turkish food. With a sweet tooth, Egyptians love their sweets and a dessert after every meal is very common in Egyptian tradition.
A buttery pie, Fiteer is something like a cross between pizza dough and pancakes. The soft-layered pastry is prepared with a wide variety of toppings ranging from cheese and vegetables to sugar or honey. Deliciously devoured in tons by Egyptians, Fiteer is a must try of Egyptian national dishes.
Very famous all around the Arabic countries, another scrumptious pastry flavored with honey and nuts, baklava was once a treat only for the rich and royals of ancient civilization and today enjoyed by all classes of the Egyptian society.
A semolina cake coated in syrup and sometimes given additional flavor by rose water or coconut. Basbousa is delicious and very famous among Egyptian gatherings.
Egypt is very hot during summer so refreshing drinks are the way to cool down and in winter they love their warm drinks. Some of the most popular drinks in Egypt are:
Fresh Fruit Juices
Egypt grows a number of fresh fruits all over the country. Some of the Egyptian favorite drinks are watermelon fresh juice, pomegranate fresh juice and sugar cane juice. These are enjoyed all year-round by locals all over Egypt.
Tea is legendary in Egypt. Egyptians LOVE sipping tea, cold or hot, sitting in cafes and restaurants while watching a soccer match. Egyptians’ fond of their tea is not just about the drink, it is a custom which they adopted from the Arabians. It became more of a tradition that reflects their identities and personalities. Sometimes they add mint leaves or a squeeze of lemon juice in it. One of the most popular teas in the country is Koshari tea, which is enjoyed hot and is very flavorful and Karlade which is another Egyptian favorite and is consisted of a cold drink made out of hibiscus tea and lots of sugar.
There’s nowhere in the world quite like Egypt. From the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx to the stunning Red Sea coast, you will find endless historic, cultural, and recreational sites to visit. And the Egyptian food is as rich as its culture.
Of course, you will find dishes like hummus, falafel, stuffed grape leaves, and baklava that are popular in other the Middle Eastern, North African, and the Mediterranean countries. However, Egyptian chefs often put their own spin on these beloved foods.
It won't be a complete visit to Egypt without trying as many Egyptian dishes as you can. Make sure to eat like an Egyptian and taste the Egyptian cuisine during your trip to Egypt.