The cuisine of Egypt depends heavily on legumes and vegetables. The Nile and delta region see high yields of these foods, so you'll find them incorporated into most dishes in Egypt. Archaeological excavations have even proven that the workers on the Great Pyramids of Giza were paid in beer, bread, and onions.
When traveling through Egypt, you'll find that many of the foods are similar to those found in other Middle-Eastern countries and along the Mediterranean. If you're planning an Egyptian vacation, here are some of the not-to-miss foods in Egypt.
Kushari, also spelled Koshari, is sold throughout Egypt and is often called the national dish of Egypt. This simple dish consists of pasta, tomato sauce, and other ingredients like caramelized onions, chickpeas, rice, lentils, and/or garlic. All ingredients are mixed together and eaten as a meal or snack. You'll find different interpretations throughout Egypt, but traditional Kushari must contain three key ingredients rice, lentils, and macaroni.
You might be thinking this doesn't sound very Egyptian at all, and you'd be correct. Although its been consumed in Egypt for over 100 years, it is believed the dish was introduced to Egyptians by the British Army during the 19th century.
Probably my favorite dish during my visits to Egypt, ful medames is typically served at breakfast, but can be found on lunch or dinner menus as well. Ful is pronounced fool and its another simple dish that is an Egyptian staple. Ful is made from crushed fava beans that are slow-cooked and seasoned with salt, parsley, garlic, olive oil and cumin. If you have it as part of a big breakfast spread, it may be served with Egyptian bread, local cheese, and spreads like baba ganoush.
Aish is a traditional Egyptian bread you'll find throughout the country. This flatbread is made with 5-10% ground fenugreek seeds mixed with maize flour. These bread disks resemble pita bread you can find elsewhere in the world.
Domiati is a soft, white, salty cheese that hails from the seaport city of Damietta. It's made from cow or buffalo milk. Domiati is made salty, and even slightly pickled with salt, before the cheese-making cultures are added. It's the most common cheese found in Egypt, and its incorporated into numerous dishes.
Mouloukhiya may throw you off by its appearance, but it's worth trying. It's a bright green stew, which is cooked with rabbit or chicken stock. You may find variations depending on where you travel within Egypt, such as in coastal cities where it is made using fish or shrimp as the soup base. Mouloukhiya may look somewhat bland, but you'll find lots of flavor from the coriander and garlic. Serve with rice or Egyptian bread and it's a filling and healthy meal.
You may have seen Halawa in other countries along the Mediterranean as it's a pretty common Middle-Eastern snack. Halawa is available in various forms and you'll find it commonly mixed with ingredients like pine nuts, almonds, and pistachios. Because of its ability to withstand the Egyptian weather, Halawa is a great snack to bring when you're on an all-day tour in the hot sun.
You might recognize taameya when you see it - it's more commonly known as falafel in most other countries around the world. Pounded broad beans are mixed with spices and formed into individual servings, which are deep-fried until they have a nice crispy exterior. Eat in a sandwich with tahini and vegetables for the perfect lunch.
Which one of these would you try first?
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Erin is a travel and food writer who currently splits her time between the Netherlands and Belize. She's traveled to 60+ countries on 5 continents with a passion for culinary travel, luxury hotels, and all things Disney. Her writing has appeared in numerous online outlets including Gadling, BootsnAll, CNN, Art of Backpacking, TravBuddy, CBS, and more. She was the major author of Belize's official visitor magazine, Destination Belize 2013; wrote the official AFAR Guide to Belize; and is also AFAR Magazine's local Belize expert.. In addition to writing for other publications, Erin maintains several blogs, Our Tasty Travels, No Checked Bags, Pooh's Travels, and the brand new Caye To Belize. Follow Erin on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
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