Egyptian cuisine

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Features of Egyptian cuisine

The cuisine of Egypt is diverse and combines the traditions of the cuisines of many neighboring countries: Turkish, Lebanese, African, Tunisian, Algerian, French, Greek, and Italian cuisines have great similarities with Egyptian. But speaking in general, the dishes in Egypt are simple and satisfying.

The basis of the national Egyptian cuisine consists of vegetables grown in the Nile Valley. Leguminous vegetable crops (chickpeas, beans, peas, lentils) are widely used, which are very nutritious and may well replace meat. For vegetarians, the cuisine of Egypt is suitable like no other.

Cereals, with the exception of wheat and corn, do not grow here due to climatic features. Of the same ones that can be seen on the menu and on the buffet are rice, bulgur and couscous.

Considering that 90% of the local population professes Islam, pork is not consumed here in any form, even in sausage. Lamb and beef meat are used, but the most affordable is poultry meat (pigeon, chicken, turkey).

Fresh fish (tuna, dorado, sargan, mutton, napoleon, sailfish, mackerel, sea bass and many others) and seafood (shrimp, lobsters, crabs, squid) can be found only on the coast. A wide range of dishes are offered in specialized fish restaurants.

The main feature of Egyptian cuisine in comparison with russian or any other European is the use of spices in large quantities. The main ones are hot pepper (black and red), anise, cumin (cumin), cumin, coriander and the usual dill, parsley, garlic. The sharpness in the dishes prevails.

Those with a sweet tooth will be able to pamper themselves with various Egyptian sweets: mannik Basbusa, Kunafa cake, rice puddings, cookies. The main ingredient for baking, in addition to the dough, is honey, sugar syrup and nuts (peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios), as well as dates. Some desserts, such as halva, honey, a semi-finished product for making basbuses, can be found in supermarkets and brought with you.

The traditional drink is Karkade tea, but other black and herbal teas are no less popular, they are served with lemon, ginger, mint.

Where to eat in Egypt?

Egypt's tourism policy is aimed at creating comfortable conditions for visitors to the country, and therefore the vast majority of hotels hosting tourists operate on an All-inclusive system (All Inclusive). There are hotels with other types of meals, for example, breakfast-dinner. Most vacationers are satisfied with this option, so they do not seek to eat in other places, being content with the buffet menu.

Unfortunately, it will not be possible to try national Egyptian dishes in the fullness of their tastes within the walls of hotels, because the food here is more adapted to European: less spices, sharpness, familiar products. By the way, this factor becomes decisive if you are vacationing with children. If you want to join the local cuisine or at least try something from it, then you should go outside the hotels to street cafes, restaurants, local catering.

A typical street restaurant in a tourist area

Local restaurants and cafes are more focused on the specifics of one type of cuisine, for example, traditional Egyptian, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Greek, Italian, but there are also mixed types. The price tag will, of course, be overstated, but the sanitary conditions are better. The menu is presented in English, often duplicated in russian. The staff also speaks russian without any problems.

There are also street fast foods that are especially popular among Egyptians and their families. You can buy shawarma, burger, sweet potatoes (sweet potatoes or kumara), fried corn, drinks.

Fast food on the street in Egypt

There are no menus in small local eateries and on the streets, so it's worth preparing in advance and knowing what you want to try in order to ask. It is inexpensive to eat here, but given that the inhabitants of Egypt are not familiar with sanitation, the place will not be clean, poisoning is not excluded.

World-famous McDonalds, Burger King and KFC are also found in tourist areas. In addition, there are many establishments, such as pizzerias, burgers, bistros, where you can also have a quick snack.

If you rent a house, then if you have a kitchen, you can cook on your own or eat in your favorite cafes. In such cases, they go to the market, shops and supermarkets, bakeries for the right products.

McDonald's in Egypt

What to eat in Egypt?

Taking into account the fact that meals for package tourists include a buffet, you will try some of the national dishes adapted to the European taste without even leaving the hotel. However, you can fully get acquainted with the country's identity only by tasting traditional local dishes in cafes and restaurants outside the hotel.

Fresh seafood in the restaurant
  • Soups

    Soups are an integral part of the diet of the Egyptians. Soups on the menu of restaurants in Egypt can be found under the common name shurpa or Shorba. They are cooked with meat or meat broth, with vegetables, with legumes, sometimes grinding into mashed soups. Thanks to the base of vegetables, they turn out thick, rich and satisfying.

    Mashed chickpea or pea soup with herbs, hot pepper and lemon juice or Bissara is served with flatbread. The most unusual is Molokhiya soup, a jelly–like green soup made from jute leaves with garlic and coriander, which is served with rice.

  • Vegetable dishes

    Vegetables predominate in the daily diet of Egyptians and form its basis. Among the vegetables, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, onions, cabbage, zucchini, carrots, bell peppers are familiar to everyone. There are many options for serving and cooking methods. Vegetables are combined with meat, fish, consumed fresh, eaten as an independent dish. Especially, in our opinion, eggplant dishes are successful. For example, a vegetable snack of baked eggplant with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and seasonings - Baba Ganoush or Moussaka – fried eggplant with tomato sauce and vinegar.

    The well-known Dolma in Egypt is called Mahshi or cabbage rolls made from rice in grape leaves, sometimes meat can be added to rice. There are other versions of this dish, where other vegetables are stuffed instead of leaves: pepper, eggplant, tomato.

    Along with vegetables, the Egyptians are very fond of bean dishes. Among legumes, the famous dish Falafel (Falafel) is deep–fried chickpea balls with spices. In the daily diet there is Ful medames (Ful medames) - boiled beans seasoned with spices, spices and olive oil. An interesting side dish is Koshari or Kushari - a mixture of lentils, rice, pasta with tomato sauce and fried onions. Chickpeas are used to make the well–known Hummus (Hummus) - pasta with tahini sauce, olive oil, spices.

  • Meat dishes

    There are enough meat products in Egypt. There is beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, only pork is banned here. Locals eat little meat, preferring vegetables. However, they know how to cook meat properly.

    Among the famous Egyptian meat dishes is Fatteh, a full–fledged dish of stewed beef with vegetables, served with rice and pita chips, topped with garlic tomato sauce. Delicious roasted Mombar sausages stuffed with rice and meat filling. Grilled meat or Kofta (Kofta) and a meatball made of minced meat or chopped meat on Kebab skewers, popular not only in Egypt. It is worth trying Okra (Bamiya, Okra) – beef stew with okra pods and garlic sauce.

    The most unexpected, but very tasty will be Hamam mahshi – pigeons stuffed with giblets. First they are stewed, and then fried and served with rice.

    Meat offal is also prepared. For example, one of the street fast foods is fried beef or chicken liver Kebda (Kebda) with seasonings and sauce in a bun.

  • Fish and seafood

    A wide variety of fish and seafood dishes can be tasted in special fish restaurants. Fish (mackerel, mullet, tuna, dorado, sargan, steers) are stewed, grilled, deep-fried, baked, steamed. Served with vegetables or rice, both individually and together, for example, Sayadiya fish pilaf. Egyptians consider grilled fish with tomatoes and sweet peppers to be a special delicacy.

    Interest is aroused by a traditional Egyptian festive dish called Fesikh. This is dried salted fish with a specific smell. It can be tasted during the spring holiday of Sham-en-Nasim, however, you need to be careful, because in case of improper preparation, it is possible to get poisoned by it.

  • Salads and snacks

    Before the start of the meal, restaurants and cafes offer a Meze snack. A prefabricated dish consisting of several bowls, the quantity and content of which depends on the specific place of catering, among them: Dukka - nut mixture with spices and seasonings; Tahina - sesame sauce with lemon and spices; Falafel – roasted chickpea cutlets, olives, cheese; Torshi - pickled vegetables; cheeses, for example, Domiati (soft salty), Areesh (yogurt), Rumi or Ras (Rumi) (aged, hard salty).

    Salads are prepared from the usual vegetables with the addition of olive oil, feta cheese, tahina sauce, lemon juice. You can often find Baladi salads – from tomatoes and cucumbers with spices, vinegar and oil, and Tabulah from bulgur with tomatoes, onions, herbs, seasoned with olive oil and lemon juice.

  • Bread

    Bread is loved in Egypt. The most common flatbreads are Eish baladi, which are present on buffet tables. Of course, in stores you can find baguettes, ciabatta and various pastries. But this cake is traditional. They eat it by dipping it in sauces (tahina), soups (bissara, molokhiya), in a nut mixture (dukka), sometimes using vegetables and meat wrapped in it instead of a spoon, it turns out something like shawarma. The peculiarity of the Egyptian flatbread is that when baking, it swells strongly like a balloon, thus, a cavity is formed inside, which is later used to place various fillings inside.

    They are very fond of puff pastry or Fetir, which is sold in bakeries. It happens with a filling (sweet or salty), but is more often sold without filling. If desired, it can be supplemented with both sweet and non-sweet fillings or used instead of a bread cake.

  • Sweets, desserts

    Sweets are loved by many, not a few cook them here. The basis, as a rule, is a dough soaked in honey with the addition of nuts, cream. The most popular are: Basbussa (pie with semolina and nuts); Kunafa or Kunafa – a special thin vermicelli soaked in honey, cream with nuts.

    Delicious pudding Om Ali or Um Ali (Om Ali, Umm Ali) from baked pieces of puff pastry, filled with milk with raisins and coconut. Another refreshing milk pudding or Mahalabia is made from rice flour, sugar, milk and starch.

    Halva is known all over the world, Egypt is no exception. It is made from sesame seeds with the addition of nuts (peanuts, pistachios). Baklava is also often found – a dough soaked in sweet syrups and honey with nuts. The local Turkish delight is called Malban.

    It reminds Kurabye of the most delicate shortbread cookies Ghorayeba, and by adding to it a filling of dates, cinnamon and nuts, we get Kahk.

  • Fruits

    Mangoes, oranges, tangerines, watermelons, melons, guavas, dates, strawberries, pomegranates, peaches, grapes are grown in Egypt. The presence of a wide variety of fruits, first of all, depends on the seasonality of ripening. Almost all year round there are only dates and guava on the table. In autumn-spring (from November to April) strawberries, oranges, tangerines predominate; in spring-summer (from May to July) – grapes, mangoes, peaches, apricots, watermelons, melons; in summer-autumn (from July to November) – pomegranate, pears.

  • Drinks

    Tea is a traditional drink in the land of the pyramids. The famous red Karkade has earned recognition since the time of the pharaohs. Egyptians adore it and drink it both cold and hot, giving preference to chilled. Black tea is no less popular. It is brewed, depending on preferences, weaker or stronger. Herbal teas are also offered for tourists: with mint, with ginger, with anise.

    In second place in Egypt after tea is coffee. Usually cooked in Turkish, brewed in a turk, and served not sweet, but can also sweeten to your taste. A feature of local coffee is that cardamom is added to it, which gives the drink an unusual but pleasant aftertaste. In addition, the now-familiar "European" coffee and coffee drinks can be found in coffee shops.

    Soft drinks are represented by carbonated lemonades Cola, Sprite, Mirinda. Due to the presence of fruits (oranges, mangoes, lemon, guava, watermelons), freshly squeezed fruit juices (they are called Assir here) are popular, and especially Asr Asab sugar cane juice. Juices are served in cafes and restaurants, but do not count on the fact that in low-cost All-inclusive hotels you will be served natural juices. In most cases, it will be a diluted concentrate with a lot of sugar, which is not very healthy.

    Also note that in the country you need to drink only bottled water, which is replenished daily in many hotels. Also, it will not be difficult to buy water in supermarkets, small shops, from merchants, at various food outlets.

  • Alcohol

    Alcohol in Egypt

    There are no traditional alcoholic beverages in Egypt, they have not been invented. Despite this, alcohol is produced in the country and it is possible to buy it.

    The most popular drink is beer. Among the famous Egyptian brands are Stella, Luxor, Sakara. There is also Egyptian wine here, it is produced from local raw materials. Dry and semi-dry wines are considered the best: red Omar Khayyam, white Cru des Ptolmees, pink Rubis Egypt, as well as the Grand Marquis and Obelisk wine lines. Strong alcohol is represented by whiskey, vodka, rum, gin, arak. Whiskey Auld Stag and Devlin, premium vodka Blue40 and Black50, aniseed vodka Zibiba, rum Cubana Rum and tequila Malvado are considered good. They can only be bought.

    In all-inclusive hotels, only drinks of local brands Bolanachi or Pharaoh's are offered free of charge. At the same time, the products of both brands, admittedly, are not of the highest quality and hardly resemble the real taste of gin, whiskey, arak or vodka. Everything that stands separately on the shelves of hotel bars is already bottled for an additional fee.

    You can't buy alcohol everywhere. They don't sell it in regular stores, but there are one or two specialized ones. We are aware of stores under the general name Drinkies that sell local fuel.

    If you want alcohol of well-known world brands, then you need to go to Duty-Free shops for it, which happen in large shopping centers of tourist areas, or stock up in advance at the airport.

    In tourist places, you can find alcohol on the menu of restaurants and cafes, but not everywhere.

    By the way, we note that the population is loyal to tourists, although Islam does not welcome alcohol. However, do not forget about the limits of decency. During religious holidays, there is a ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages.

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