I visited Egypt a few years ago, and as a total foodie, the one thing that really sticks in my mind about the place is the delicious food. Always full of flavour, rich and fragrant, Egypt is without a doubt a must-visit for all things indulgent. The definition of traditional Egyptian food differs depending on where you are in the country, for example, the coast near Alexandria loves using fresh seafood and the Red Sea specialises in spices. Meat has a history of being pretty expensive in Egypt, so there are also lots of great dishes which are perfect for veggies and vegans. If you’re lucky enough to be heading there on holiday soon, take a look at my list of Egyptian dishes which aren’t to be missed.
I’m kicking off my top ten with Koshari. As Egyptian food goes, it’s as typical as it comes, but has influences from all over the world, with an Indian base and a dash of Italian pasta. This warming, hearty bowl of lentils, rice, macaroni, chickpeas and tangy tomato sauce has been enjoyed for hundreds of years. If it’s prepared in the traditional way, it’s veggie and vegan-friendly too!
Kofta is next on our list of Egyptian food, though you might recognise the dish from its Greek or Turkish variations instead. Koftas are usually made with ground lamb or beef and flavoured with cumin, chillies or cinnamon amongst other fragrant spices. They’re great on their own, with salads or served with some traditional Baladi bread, with a side of tasty tahini and a fresh cucumber salad.
3) Ful Medames
Ful Medames is a dish which is somewhere between a salad and a bean dip, depending on how you make it. The dish dates back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptian era and is made with Fava beans, garlic, lemon juice, lentils, butter and spices. It’s delicious with fresh bread, but it’s also very often part of breakfast alongside boiled eggs. Fancy replacing a Full English with a Full Egyptian?
Shawarma’s, affectionately known as the ‘burritos of the Middle East’ and the sister of Greece’s gyro and Turkey’s Doner kebab, are firm favourites as Egyptian street food. And like kebabs, Shawarma’s are great for lunch, not just after a night out! The meat, which is usually beef or lamb, is roasted on a spit and then cut off into thin strips. Served in a soft wrap, it’s usually accompanied by salad and Egyptian tahini.
Fatta is a traditional Egyptian dish which is served for special occasions. Its origins are Sudanese and Nubian, and its recipe has remained unchanged for hundreds of years. Filling, delicious and cheap and easy to make; what more could you ask for? Traditionally made with lamb, fried pitta, seasoned rice and creamy, garlic sauce, it’s the perfect Egyptian food for any special day.
Sambouseks are the Egyptian equivalent of samosas, and are just as delicious. There are lots of different types to enjoy, like meat, cheese and vegetable varieties to suit any taste. They’re great as finger food for parties, and if you decide you want to make some for yourself, it only takes a few minutes and you can freeze any you don’t use before cooking, to enjoy whenever you like.
7) Fiteer Baladi
Fiteer Baladi is a great, authentic alternative to pizza. Traditionally, it’s stonebaked in an open oven and made of layers of buttery Filo pastry. The topping’s up to you, and there’s plenty of different types to try, from sweet honey and nuts to savoury roasted vegetables. The base itself is fragrant bread, and if you eat it fresh, it’s tasty enough without any topping at all.
Hawashy is hand-kneaded bread with a mince and vegetable filling. It’s a great alternative to a sandwich for on-the-go food and can be found all over Egypt. Freshly made and full of flavour, it’s the perfect snack for those long days of exploring your surroundings. There are also vegetarian and vegan options too, so you’ll never be short of choice at lunchtime in Egypt.
If you like the sound of Ful Medames, you’ll love falafel. The base of both dishes is the hearty Fava bean. The difference is, falafel is made with spring onions, garlic and cumin, then topped with sesame seeds and fried. They’re delicious on their own with some tahini, or better yet, rolled in some Baladi with salad and assorted dips.
Let’s finish off our list of top 10 Egyptian foods off with something sweet. Baklava is a traditional Middle Eastern dessert made with layers of sweet Filo pastry, chopped walnuts and a sticky, orange-blossom syrup. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll love this delicious treat which is usually served on special occasions. But trust me, once you’ve tried it the first time, you’ll find any excuse to eat it again!
Which Egyptian food are you looking most forward to trying on your holiday? Have you been to Egypt before and do have any more recommendations? Drop me a comment below, I’d love to know.