Five Favourite: Egyptian Foods
Egypt has long been the cultural melting-pot of Africa. Asian, African and Mediterranean people can all be found throughout the North African nation and this blending of nationalities is reflected in the countries culinary delights.
Many dishes have been modified from their Greek, Turkish, Moroccan and Syrian origins to suit Egyptian customs and tastes and hence Egypt is one of the most inspiring places to eat. Here are my five favourite Egyptian foods.
Essentially Egyptian tapas or appetisers, these dishes are often served with aysh shami (pita bread) and drinks. The word mezza, mezze or mezzeh is Persian and means taste. The most popular options are a selection of salads, mahshi waraa enab (stuffed vine leaves) and dips; including dukkh, tehina, baba ghannoug, hummus, tabouleh and khiar be lebaan (Tzatziki). By ordering a few more items you can turn the mezze into a delicious mini dinner with the addition of taa’miya (falafel), bisara (fava bean dip) and basturma bil baid (pastrami and eggs).
4. Sanyet Batates, Tagines & Stews
Although Moroccan in origin, tagines are popular throughout Egypt. Tagine is the name of the clay pot the dishes are cooked in and in parts of Africa these are ornately decorated; however in Egypt they resemble a simple, oversized ramekin or tin foil dish. One of my favourites is Sanyet Batates or oven potato stew; it’s made with layers of beef/lamb, potatoes, onions and tomato paste and served with roz meaammar (baked rice).
3. Mahshi Hamam
A national delicacy, stuffed pigeon is served throughout Egypt. The tiny birds are filled with rice and then grilled, although beware as some restaurants serve this dish with the heads buried within the stuffing. The popularity of this dish means you may have to have a couple of goes at hunting down a restaurant that hasn’t sold out earlier in the day.
My favourite Egyptian fast food (although it seemed to be more prevalent in Turkey), shawarma consists of shaved meat served over rice or wrapped in bread and eaten with numerous different toppings – tomato, cucumber, hummus etc.
Though not traditionally Egyptian (it’s origins are Lebanese), it’s made by stacking strips of fat and pieces of meat on a stick (like a rotisserie) and then slowly roasted in front of or over a flame for several hours. The grilled meat options can be anything from lamb to goat, chicken to beef or maybe even elephant (I’m pretty sure this was a lie)! The best thing about shawarma is that’s often available at all hours of the night and for as little as 6 EGP (60p).
1. Umm Ali
Most Egyptian deserts have their roots in Turkey or Morocco, however Umm Ali has it’s origins in Egyptian legend. Stories state that Om Ali was the first wife of the Sultan Ezz El Din Aybek. When he died, Om Ali and the Sultans second wife has a dispute as to which son would become the Sultan’s successor. To rid Om Ali of her burden and ensure her sons success she bribed the second wife’s handmaidens, who beat her to death with slippers! To celebrate the second wife’s death, Om Ali created this dessert and distributed it amongst the people. Umm Ali is a delightful combination of bread and butter pudding and baklava and can be eaten on its own or with a scoop of ice-cream.
This blog post is my entry into the easyJet Inspired by Egypt competition. Make sure you enter via this link, or to follow the progress and check out other entrants follow @easyJetHolidays or keep an eye on their hashtag #InspiredByEgypt.