Egyptian food is a unique blend of cultures and influences. Dishes date back to the ancient Egyptian era, while other favorite foods have origins in India, Africa, the Middle East or even Europe. Egypt sits between two continents – part North African and part Asian – making it an intercontinental country that’s one of Earth’s great crossroads for commerce as well as cuisine. From falafel to shawarma, there is a little bit of everything for everyone in Egypt. Restaurants offer western dishes like fries and pizza alongside Middle Eastern specialties such as koshari, molokhia, moutabal, or ful medames and salad. Which dishes should you eat in Egypt? Use our guide.
Egyptian cuisine has evolved over time due to its influences from other cultures but the core ingredients remain typical Egyptian foods including rice, beans (foul), lentils meats, vegetables, and spices that are used quite sparingly – along with some form of meat if desired be it chicken, beef, lamb or seafood.
In this article, we will be exploring the culinary scene in Egypt. We’ll give you some of our favorite dishes to try along with a few tips on what to eat while visiting!
Egyptian cuisine is rich and diverse – it can range from vegetarian food like falafel or labneh (a yogurt/ soft cheese), which are typically served as an appetizer at feasts; Egyptian bread such as pita bread called “Eish Beshtawy” made with semolina flour that’s cooked over firewood for hours until golden brown outside but light inside, flatbread also known as “Eesh Shenny” prepared by using ground wheat mixed together with water then left overnight covered before cooking over firewood again so they
All content on this site reflects personal opinions based on our experiences and research during many weeks in Egypt, and on my experiences as a chef.
Egyptian food is a blend of the cuisines that have come to Egypt throughout history. The many different influences, tastes and spices combined create dishes like molokhia, koshari, Baladi breads, and Egyptian cheeses.
Facts about Egyptian Food
An Egyptian Meze, a Selection of Different Foods, is Common
In Egypt we had very traditional food which was served in a buffet style. We would typically have Egyptian meze, such as falafel, olives, hummus and baba ghanoush to start with. The waiters would then bring out roast chicken or lamb for lunch while there were always many different dishes of rice on offer at dinner time also!
The first thing that we noticed was the abundance of falafels. They seemed to be everywhere, and they were served in a variety of shapes like flatbreads with salads and grilled meat or kebab stalls.
Egyptian Food History
Around the Mediterranean, from Greece to North Africa and even India. These dishes were carried by traders like spices in a time when there was no internet or social media for recipes that could have been shared with others who had not yet discovered them.
Around the Mediterranean region, many of these Egyptian foods can be eaten right around this area as well as countries such as Egypt’s neighbor country: Turkey where Turkish cuisine includes influences from other cultures including Indian which is said to make up more than half their flavor profiles/ingredients!
Life in ancient Egypt and Biblical times must have been very similar. While researching for things to do while on vacation, we learned that Jesus as a baby with his parents passed through Cairo! Some of the food mentioned in the Bible are still around today like donuts.
Molokhia Egyptian Green Slime Soup
Molokhia is a soup or stew made from chopped leafy greens in an animal-based stock. The stock can be beef, chicken, seafood – based and molokhia has been eaten for years as one of the older Egyptian dishes that seems to only have ever existed there!
Fried garlic and ground roasted coriander seeds have always been traditional flavours for this green soup. The way molokhia is made will vary in different parts of Egypt, but the most basic recipe includes soaking dried leaves from a plant called “moloakh” or mallow (hence its name) overnight then cooking it with chicken broth until soft before draining off any excess liquid. It’s commonly served as an accompaniment to other main dishes such as rice dishes, seafood and lamb/beef kebabs!
This dish is called mulukhiyah or mulukhiyyah and was named after the leafy greens that are the main ingredient. The plant has a slimy consistency, like okra, which explains why it’s eaten by ancient Egyptians who were looking to get slime on their hands- though this one comes from members of the jute family instead!
A simple dish that is high in protein, iron and various minerals. A hearty soup recipe from the Middle East.
Koshari Egypt’s National Dish
What is the national dish of Egypt? It may seem like an easy question but it’s actually hard to answer. The most recognizable and well-known dish in Egyptian cuisine can be found all over North Africa, along with several other countries where Arab cultures have had a huge influence. Koshari comes from Arabic words for spicy (kushar) and broken pieces/lumps or rice grains (khir). So perhaps this could help explain why koshari has been dubbed as being one of the signature dishes in Egyptians’ diet – because they love anything that packs some heat!
British colonists probably brought the ancestor of this dish with them from India. Koshari is somewhat like Indian kitchari, which means ” a mixture”. It’s not just an ordinary meal; it contains rice and lentils as well as other spices that make it uniquely delicious when mixed together in its special sauce.
Curried rice, spicy tomato sauce, and lentils plopped atop a bed of macaroni noodles are just a few things that make up the dish known as Koshari. I personally think this is one of those dishes which really showcases how diverse cuisine can be across cultures because in an Egyptian restaurant it would be considered normal. On some beaches you’ll find locals making their own variations for tourists who want to try something new.
Koshari contains rice with red kidney beans or chickpeas, pasta; sliced onions stir-fried with garlic and coriander seed until golden brown; fava bean powder mixed into curries to give them flavor without adding too much heat – plus tomatoes simmered down into thickened sauces
Baladi Bread, Egypt’s Flat Bread
The mouth-watering aroma of freshly made baladi bread can be smelled throughout the streets as you walk through Cairo. It’s a common and popular Egyptian food, which is loved by locals for its taste that varies depending on what it has been served with most recently–pitta or baba ganoush are both favorites in Egypt! Baladi Bread goes great at breakfast time when eaten fresh from the bakery while still warm.
If you’re ever in Egypt, be sure to try their delicious breakfast of flatbread with cheese and eggs. This is a great way to start your day off! You may also want to save some bread for lunch or dinner as well so that you can enjoy it then too.
Shawarma is a staple of Egyptian cuisine with its history dating back to the Ottoman Empire. Street vendors sell shawarmas, which are sandwiches made from grilled meat (usually beef or chicken) that has been marinated in spice and soaked for some time before being roasted on a vertical rotisserie until it’s succulent enough to be rolled up into flatbread or rice. It can also be served as an entrée along side salads, garlic sauce, tahini cream dressing–even fries! Have you had any?
Hawawshi, Egypt’s Meat Pie
Imagine my surprise when I encountered a Hawawshi street food stall in Cairo. Sure, it was hot and dusty outside of the restaurant but what greeted me inside made up for all that. The smell coming from the ovens filled with savory pies beckoned to us like an old friend calling our names! We ordered one on impulse before we even knew what it was; turns out they’re sort of similar to Egyptian baked meat pies wrapped up into little packages- smaller than expected yet still filling enough after walking through those busy streets all day long!
Fava beans are a versatile ingredient that can be combined with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and cumin to create the delicious dish of fava beans, foul medammis. Foul is an Egyptian word for any type of bean or pea cooked in water until tender. It’s often served as part of mezze – small plates designed to share at social gatherings where you would also find falafel, tahini sauce and hummus among other dishes on your table
Moutabal is a Middle Eastern dish known elsewhere as baba ghanoush. Moutabal is a traditional dish that consists of cooked eggplants mashed with tahini and garlic.
Moutabal’s humble ingredients are what make it so good, not the fancy name or spices needed to prepare this tantalizing meal. It requires just one spoonful for you to feel transported into another era where simple flavors were celebrated as they should be! The texture will remind you how silky smooth these vegetables can get when cooked properly in until tender on the inside thanks to time spent slowly roasting over an open flame before being milled by hand through a food mill or simply mashed.
If you’re a fan of Middle Eastern cuisine, chances are that Tahini sauce is already on your radar. The thick paste made from ground sesame seeds mixed with salt or soy sauce can be found in most supermarkets and makes an excellent dip for raw veggies, as well as the base to many classic dishes like Hummus!
Tahina is a staple in Egyptian cuisine. It’s used to make mezze, which are small dishes meant as appetizers but can also be served throughout the course of the meal with other courses for added variety and flavor. Tahina makes these foods taste nuttier than they would if you were just eating them on their own without any tahini sauce or paste mixed into it!
Egyptian desserts include the following super-sweet and delicious dishes.
- Maamoul cookies
- Kataifi pastry
- Kanafeh dessert (made with cheese)
- Basbousa cake (made with semolina and soaked in sugar syrup)
- Omm Ali and Um Ali (Egyptian bread pudding)