Top Egyptian eats and treats.
Bread is the most important staple of Egyptian life and is eaten with almost every meal. The most common kinds of bread sold in Egypt are thick flatbreads, similar to pita breads, known as Eesh/Eeish baladi. You can either buy this bread with a soft, dry or very dry texture – depending on what you plan on eating it with. The bottom layer of the bread is commonly coated with bran.
Halawa is a greatly enjoyed sweet treat in Egypt and is commonly eaten at Breakfast or as a snack. The thick, sweet sesame paste comes in many varieties. It’s sold in blocks, spreads and energy bars and is often flavoured with almonds or pistachio. Halawa can also be used to make other dishes by mixing it with ingredients like honey and cream. Unlike many foods Halawa doesn’t react badly to the Egyptian heat and requires no special storage conditions.
The name of this dish translates as ‘buried fava beans’ and is a reference to how it was traditionally cooked. Ful Medames has roots in the twelfth dynasty and has been a staple part of Egyptian cuisine ever since. To create Ful Medames fava beans are mashed and mixed with onion, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. The simple dish is often served with Egyptian bread.
Egypt is an Islamic nation, which means that the majority of the population observes the Religious commitment of Ramadan. During Ramadan a fast must be upheld from sunrise until sunset and Qatayef are one of the most popular foods to enjoy once the fasting is over. They are known variously as Middle Eastern dumplings or Middle Eastern Pancakes. The batter used to create Qatayef commonly includes semolina and they are filled with things like cinnamon, sugar, nuts, cream, unsalted cheese and dried fruits.
This popular Egyptian cheese is made from buffalo milk, although sometimes cow milk is incorporated in the recipe. Salt is added to the milk before the rennet is added to give it a distinctive flavour. It has a soft texture, is very white in colour and is stored in tin cans. Domiati is aged for a minimum of a year before being eaten. As the cheese is supposed to become more flavoursome the longer it’s stored some families will age their Domiati for years!
This distinctive condiment is popular in much of the Middle East, including Egypt where it is served as a side dish. To make baba ghaoush roasted aubergines are mixed with cumin, garlic, salt, lemon juice, tahini and finely diced onions. Once seasoned and blended to a paste baba ghanoush is often topped with a little olive oil and eaten with bread.
Basbousa is a sweet Egyptian cake often fragranced with rose water or orange blossom water. The body of the cake is made of semolina, with the semolina being soaked in syrup to keep the cake moist. Some recipes call for the addition of coconut whilst others ask the maker to stud the finished cake with almonds. Variants of Basbousa are eaten in the Middle East and the Mediterranean but in Greece the sweet cake is known as Revani and in the Middle East it is commonly known as Hareesa.