This food guide is an excellent introduction to the must-try food in Egypt.
While Egyptian food may not be as popular in the English-speaking world, Egyptian food culture and traditions are well established and loved throughout the Arab world and the Middle East. This is partly due to the rich historical, cultural, and political influence that the world’s largest Arabic-speaking nation has had in the greater region. In fact, many famous dishes and foods made all over the Middle East trace their roots back to Egypt. Some examples are foul, Barbossa, and Um Ali.
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What is special about food in Egypt?
We all know the history of Egypt. What some of us don’t know is that while Egypt may not be building the tallest buildings in the world anymore, it is still making great food. Food in Egypt is interesting because it is characterized by so many different influences from ancient civilizations.
Egypt is in Africa. It is part of the Mediterranean, and it is also considered part of the Middle East. The capital city Cairo even served as the capital of the Fatimid and Ayyubid Dynasties, which controlled large parts of North Africa and the Middle East. All this history can be clearly visible in the unique taste and Egyptian food. And if you walk the streets of Cairo at night, the sights, sounds, and smells of Egyptian food are overwhelming.
The Top 25 Unmissable Foods In Egypt
To help you navigate Egypt’s food guide, we divided it into three different categories: Meat & Seafood, Vegetarian, and Sweets & Desserts. I hope this helps. So, let’s discover the tastiest foods in Egypt.
Meat & Seafood
1. Hawawshi (Stuffed Pita Bread)
Named after his inventor, Hawawshi is one of Egypt’s traditional dishes. It’s basically a thick pita bread stuffed with a mix of mincemeat, onions, parsley, and spices then baked in the oven. Hawawshi is usually made at homes but it’s also served in many restaurants as a takeaway.
2. Hamam Mahshi (Stuffed Pigeon)
Hamam Mahshi means stuffed pigeon in Arabic. Hamam Mahshi is been served in Egypt for decades now. This savory dish is an important part of Egyptian cuisine, especially during local celebrations. The pigeons are stuffed with green durum wheat called Farik, onions, and spices.
Shawarma is not native to Egypt. It was first brought but the Ottomans to become an essential street food in Egypt. The marinated meat (Lamb, beef, or chicken) is cut and stacked on a special shawarma skewer. To make shawarma wraps, they cut the surface of the stacked meat into thin slices that are then tossed into a roll or a chunk of bread.
4. Kebab and Kofta
A full plate of Kebab and Kofta in Egypt includes both grilled pieces of lamb (Kebab) and minced beef or lamb rolled on a skewer like a sausage and grilled (Kofta). The dish is normally served with a side salad containing chopped tomatoes, onions, and lettuce.
5. Kebda Eskandarani (Alexandrian liver)
As the name shows, Kebda Eskandarani is an Alexandrian specialty. The dish consists of the fried beef liver with several seasonings like cumin, garlic, cardamom, and chili peppers. Kebda Eskandarani is tasty street food in Egypt usually served in sandwiches along with tahini dip but Egyptians cook it at home as well and serve with pita bread and rice on the side.
6. Sayadieh Fish
The seasoned white fish and rice dish was inherited from Lebanon and has become a popular food in Egypt. Sayadieh fish is a form of fish Biryani but with middle eastern spices called Baharat. It is normally cooked on special occasions but it can be ordered in restaurants especially the coastal cities like Alexandria,
Bamia is an okra and lamb stew. It’s a Middle Eastern, Anatolian, and Greek dish. The main ingredients are okra, lamb and tomato, onions, and other flavoring spices and herbs.
The national dish Koshari is a widely popular street food dish in Egypt. This 19th-century dish is an exceptional combination of Italian, Indian, and middles eastern ingredients. The carb filling dish is a mix of rice, macaroni, lentils topped with a spiced tomato sauce and garlic vinegar and garnished with chickpeas and crispy fried onions. If you see locals lined up somewhere, don’t wonder, it’s just a Kushari street shop.
9. Fiteer Meshaltet (Egyptian Pizza)
This Egyptian delicacy reminds me of Msemen, a Moroccan breakfast pancake. Fiteer Baladi is the Egyptian pizza. However, it’s a bit different from the pizza we all know. Fiteer Baladi is made of many layers of filo pastry and butter before cooking it in a brick oven. Traditionally, the super battery dish comes plain, topped with syrup, sugar, or honey, or stuffed with meat, cheese, or vegetables. The choice is yours!
10. Baba Ganoush (Roasted Eggplant Dip)
Baba Ganouch is a side dish and appetizer in Egypt. It’s very similar in texture to the Hummus recipe but this one is made of roasted eggplant instead of chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, sesame paste (tahini), and lemon.
11. Ful Medames (Egyptian Fava Beans)
Ful Medames or Ful is an authentic street food of Egypt. The creamy dish is stewed fava beans (or broad beans) and loaded with flavors like cumin, fresh herbs, and lemon garlic sauce. The hearty vegan dish is served either for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and usually accompanied with sliced veggies and a few rolls of pita bread.
12. Tameya (Egyptian Falafel)
Known as Falafel in most parts of the Middle East, Tamiya is the all-time favorite street food in Egypt. This Egyptian pride dish is made with dried fava beans and not ground chickpeas (used in the Mediterranean). Ful and Taameya is a famous food combination in many parts of Egypt. Tamiya is usually served with pita bread, tomato, onions, and tahini sauce.
13. Mulukhiyah (Mallow leaves stew)
It does look unappetizing but if Egyptians love it you should give it a try! Mulukhiyah is a green-colored soup made of mallow leaves. It’s thick in texture making it more like a stew than a soup. In Egypt, Mulukhiyah is served with beef or lamb as a side dish.
14. Bessara (Egyptian fava beans dip)
Rooted in Egyptian history, Besarah is a filling vegetarian meal. It is made of fava beans, onions, garlic, and lots of fresh green herbs that give the dish its green color. For Hummus lovers, this meal would be their next favorite. The beans give it a unique creamy texture while the green herbs provide a refreshing green color and taste.
Perfect for breakfast or a brunch, The vegetarian egg-based dish is loaded with fresh flavors and spices. Shakshouka is a North African and Middle Eastern dish where many countries have the same recipe slightly different. The Shakshouka made in Egypt is eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, olive oil, peppers, onion, and garlic, and commonly spiced with cumin, paprika. It’s very light, healthy, and easy to make in case you won’t wait till you visit Egypt.
16. Mahshi Warak Enab (Stuffed Vine Leaves)
Mahshi Warak Enab known by Dolma is a Turkish dish of origin. It was brought to the Middle East by the Ottomans in the 14th century. Mahshi Warak Enab is quite an old tradition not only food in Egypt. Mahshi Warak Enab is made by stuffing boiled vine leaves with rice minced meat or chicken. Vegetarian travelers can find the Mahshi Warak Enab with rice only or vegetables.
17. Eish baladi
There are many types of Eish or bread in Egypt. Egyptians use bread to scoop up food and dips and to make wraps and sandwiches. However, the most famous one is Eish Baladi. It is a kind of pita bread that is consumed heavily in the country making it a must-try local food when you visit Egypt.
Duqq is a dry mixture of chopped nuts, seeds and spices. A perfect afternoon snack with tea or coffee
Tehina is a famous dip in Egypt. It’s a sesame paste dip made of sesame tahini, lemon juice, and garlic.
Sweets & Desserts
20. Umm Ali
Umm Ali means “Ali’s Mother”. Are wondering what is named like that? I guess because who made it has a son named Ali. Anyway, once you taste it you will care less what it is called. Umm Ali is a light and tasty bread pudding topped with nuts.
You can find Basbousa in many countries in the middle east, but since you are visiting Egypt, you are lucky because it is originated in Egypt. Basbousa is made from a semolina batter and cooked in a pan, then sweetened with rose water, or sugar-made syrup and served.
Baklava is another very popular Egyptian dessert. The basic ingredient that goes into its making includes filo dough, honey and lots of nuts.
23. Kanafeh Bil Kishtah (Kunafa with Cream)
The Egyptian Kunafeh is a dessert made with shredded filo pastry called Kataifi, then soaked in sweet syrup called sharbat in Arabic. The filo pastry then filled with a lot of creams and sent to the oven. I have tried so many Kunafas but this one is way delicious!
Which one of these mouthwatering foods you would like to try in Egypt? Let us know in the comments below
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