Egyptian Food and Recipes
Notation: Tour Egypt maintains a large recipe and food section edited by Mary Kay Radnich, Senior
Food Editor of Tour Egypt. Recipes are added weekly and monthly.
Like any crossroads culture, Egyptian cuisine has picked and chosen those ingredients and food that grow best as well as best meet the flavor and nutritional needs of their people. Bridging Africa and Asia as it does, Egypt has a lot from which to choose.
Tourist hotel meals will offer well prepared if unexciting meat/vegetable/starch entrees but that's not the real food of the real people. To eat "real," you have to eat "street." And Egypt is a culinary adventure. "Eating street" as we define it, doesn't confine itself to standup meals from cart vendors -- it's more the everyday cuisine of the everyday person in the street. These everyday Egyptians eat well. Meats are largely grilled or roasted, whole or minced, with lamb and chicken predominating. You see a lot of cows but they seem to serve more as farm equipment than beef.
The shish kabob style is extremely popular and is served either with or without the skewers but always with traditional accompaniments: greens and tomato salad, tahini sauce and pita bread. So you can stuff your own sandwich if you want. Bread is always whole wheat pita, coated with coarse ground wheat, round, fragrant and sheer heaven when hot from the oven. Often pita plus a dipping sauce, tahini, hummus or babaganoush, makes a fast food meal and a healthy, delicious one at that.
Egyptians have embraced the tomato and we never had one that wasn't bursting with color and flavor. The traditional and ubiquitous salad is chopped tomato, coriander, mint, little hot green peppers (not jalapenos but close) and onions, coated with garlic oil. It's great for digestion but death on the breath. Bring mints. Other veggies that grow well and show up all the time include beans, mostly chick pea and fava, which are eaten stewed for breakfast, hearty stewed for lunch and dinner and ground and pasted for tahini and hummus with great amounts of garlic.
Eggplant, mashed as the main ingredient in babaganoush, is also used in Egyptian moussaka with a mild white cheese. Okra, cabbage, cauliflower and potatoes show up frequently, stewed with tomatoes and garlic. Rice is a universal constant and was consistently wonderful, even for breakfast! The grains mix short basmati-like rice with longer brown, nutty tasting rice and we wish we could have found it to bring back.
Grilled pigeon is the acclaimed delicacy and like any small game bird is long on flavor but short on ease of eating. We only had fish on the Red Sea, perch and tuna, both fried, but flavorful without excess oil. We had various types of pasta from time to time but never did find out if it was wheat flour or rice flour based. Nevertheless it was uniformly delicious.
Of course, when you think "Orient" you think spices. Egyptian bazaars display staggering amounts, sculptured into colorful spice pyramids, from yellows of saffron and ochres of curries to deep blues of powdered indigo dye. Food is usually spices but not spicy. Cumin and salt are found on restaurant tables.
Middle Eastern desserts are nothing special; they do bake but, to the Western taste, figs, date and nut fillings in largely unsweetened dough isn't a dessert. Better to eat the fresh figs, dates (of which there must be 200 different types and grades), oranges and pomegranates without baked modifications. Speaking of fruit, juice bars abound in the streets and fresh squeezed oranges sweetened with cut sugar cane is heaven in a hot climate.
Beverages? In a Moslem country alcohol is frowned on and is wildly expensive to tourists. But Stella, the local beer, is mild, not overly "beery" and comes in huge bottles which is handy to quench the permanent thirst in the desert climate.
Adam Henein by Lara Iskander
Arabic Music by David Scott
Ahmed Askalany's Incredible Palms by Heba Fatteen Bizzari
A Bedouin Dinner in the Sinai by Julia Kaliniak
Cairo's Gold Mine of Used Books Still Offers Treasures by Dr. Maged El-Bialy
Children in Modern Egypt by Catherine C. Harris
Coptic Christians of Egypt, An Overview of the by Lara Iskander and Jimmy Dunn
Egypt's 1960s Remarkable Virgin Mary Sightings by Amargi
Egyptian Arabic by Jimmy Dunn writing as Ismail Abaza
Egyptian Food by Joyce Carta
Egyptian Hajj Paintingby Sonny Stengle
The Egyptian Middle Class by Jimmy Dunn
Egyptian Porcelain Center: A New Showcase for Egyptian and World Artists by The Egyptian Government
The Egyptian Wedding by Dr. Maged El-Bialy
Eid: Celebration for the Young and Old by Mohamed Osama
Islam in a Nutshell by Seemi AhmadIslam
Koshary by Heba Fatteen Bizzari
The Legends of the Cretan House by Dr. Maged El-Bialy
Marvelous Melokiyah by Mary Kay Radnich
El Misaharaty: The Ramadan Drummers by Heba Fatteen Bizzari
Modern Egyptian Houses by the Egyptian Government
Modern Egyptian Pottery by the Egyptian Government
Moulids! by Lara Iskander
The Mysteries of Qurna by Sonny Stengle
Naquib Mahfouz's Classic: Bedaya Wa Nihaya, A Review by Adel Murad Naquib Mahfouz (1911-August 30th, 2006)
Never Mind, Just Crossing the Moon By Arnvid Aakre
On Understanding Egypt by Ralph Ellis
Party for the God in Luxor by Jane Akshar
Egypt's Rafat Wagdy by Heba Fatteen Bizzari
Ramadan in Al Hussein Square by Seif Kame
lRamadan in Egypt by Sameh
Ramadan in Korba, Heliopolis by Seif Kamel
Ramadan Lanterns in Egypt by Heba Fatteen Bizzari
The 8th Annual Scupture Symposium for Stone in Aswan by The Government of Egypt with revisions by Jimmy Dunn
The Sebou Ceremony Welcoming a New Born Baby in Egypt by Heba Fatteen Bizzari
Sham el Nessim, Egypt Spring Festival by Heba Fatteen Bizzari
Sheikh Yusuf al-Haggag, His Mosque and Moulid In Luxor by Jane Akshar
Umm Kalthoum by Lara Iskander
You Don't Have to Go to the Khan El-Khaliliby Dr. Maged El-Bialy
The Zar Ceremony by Heba Fatteen Bizzari
Last Updated: June 15th, 2011
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