It’s no secret that Egypt is a top travel destination – and for good reason. Not only is the country naturally beautiful, but it’s also full of history. One thing people don’t often think about when visiting Egypt is the food. Egyptians have a very interesting cuisine, and are quite famous for street food, a few in specific. I’ve gone ahead and put together a list of 5 street foods anyone traveling to Egypt must try. Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t try the rest of the local offerings. It’s just that if you I had to pick 5, these would be them!
1. Falafel, or as Egyptians call it, Taameya
Taameya is a common breakfast food in Egypt, though you can find it served at all times of the day. Popular the world over, the falafel you may have tried is typically made with chickpeas, as it is often found in the Levant region (Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, etc.) The Egyptian version, however, uses fava beans instead. This delicious dish is quite filling, and is said to have been invented by the Copts as an alternative to meat during Ramadan. Start off your day with a Taameya sandwich and you’ll be sure to have energy to keep you going for a full day of touring!
Fuul is often the companion of Taameya. It, too, is made from fava beans; though they are cooked in what Egyptians call an Idras (sort of a large, urn-shaped pot that sits on a fire), and aren’t fried. Fuul is quite heavy, and a breakfast of fuul is said to make you drowsy all day because of how long it takes to be digested. The upside to this is that you’re full all day, and won’t have to look for another meal while you’re out. Egyptians commonly eat these two items together, on an almost daily basis, and you can find them sold by most street vendors. You’re sure to have an authentic dining experience if you try this hearty breakfast!
Koshary is, without a doubt, the most famous Egyptian street food around. Consisting of more carbs and legumes than you’ve probably ever seen in one meal (pasta, rice, lentils and chick peas) and onions and garlic, you’ll be sure to eat this meal, then be ready for a nap right after! Sometimes considered the poor man’s meal because it can fill you up and is quite inexpensive, you’ll find many common Egyptians crowding the stands and restaurants where it is served. You’ll also find famous people stopped at some of the more famous Koshary joints around! All in all, it’s a really authentic Egyptian dish!
4. Stuffed Pigeon
I know, I know. You’re probably already feeling squeamish and thinking to yourself “Yuck!” as you think of those pigeons you see being fed at the local park. Well, it’s actually NOTHING like that. In Egypt, stuffed pigeon is considered a delicacy, often served during important dinner parties. These pigeons are raised specifically for the purpose of being served as meals, and are often served stuffed with rice, or even frek (cracked-wheat), which is very tasty. A must-have side to the stuffed pigeon with frek is the actual broth the pigeon was cooked in, with a lot of lemon. This soup is not only tasty, but it’s said that this is better than chicken soup for a cold! Though you won’t necessarily find it served by street vendors, it’s very common in all restaurants in tourist areas. My tip, try it at Farhat in El Hussein area of Khan El Khalili. The atmosphere is a bit strange, but it’s the best stuffed pigeon in Cairo!
5. Sugar Cane Juice
Alright, so sugar cane juice isn’t a food. Sue me. It’s still one of the best street foods/drinks around! Egypt has “juice bars” everywhere, and if you come in the hot summer months, these will definitely be a welcome sight. Open all year round, the juice bars serve mainly fresh seasonal juices, with sugar cane juice being a staple all year round. This incredibly sweet drink is sure to give you a boost of energy, with its high natural sugar content. Served iced cold, one mug is enough to keep you going, and satisfy your craving for something sweet, though most like to stop in a couple of hours and reload again. This is probably one of the most authentic experiences you’ll have while in Egypt!