Egypt is most famous for its ancient history. From the Great Pyramids of Giza to the tombs of the Pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings, there is a lot for you to visit during your time here. That said, Egyptian food is equally a great reason to visit, with some foods dating back to Ancient Egyptian times.
You will be well aware of a few of their more popular dishes, such as falafel, hummus, and other well-known Middle Eastern dishes, all have their own Egyptian twist. Here we will dive more into some delicious Egyptian cuisine.
Ranging from main dishes, snacks, sweets, pastries, and more, you’ll have plenty of Egyptian foods to explore for everyone’s taste buds.
What’s Special About Egyptian Food?
Egyptian food over the centuries has been influenced by many different cultures, including Lebanese, Greek, Turkish, Persian, and also Italian. Food across this nation varies from region to region, which gives you even more of an excuse to go on a road trip to explore.
Traditional Egyptian food is heavily based on the country’s agricultural products. Compared to the rest of the Middle East, Egyptians have a lower consumption of meat. So expect a lot of beans, fish, lentils and other vegetables.
Egyptian foods use a lot of beautiful spices in their cooking, with cumin being a popular spice throughout. The spices and flavors in Egyptian dishes are what help to make their food so special, creating genuinely exceptional dishes; that will not only leave your taste buds wanting more but also provide a hearty and pleasurable meal.
Most Famous Egyptian Dish
Ful Mudammas (Egyptian Stew)
This is perhaps the most famous of Egyptian dishes, although there are definitely a few contenders to pick from. It is a staple of the Egyptian diet and although this dish can be eaten at any time of day, Ful Mudammas is popular for breakfast in Egypt.
This popular dish can be eaten with cheese, eggs, and with either pita bread or its Egyptian equivalent in Aish Baladi. Whilst this dish can be made with many types of beans, such as fava beans and European broad beans, it can also be made with bath beans.
A stew-style type dish, this Egyptian food is exceptionally delicious with its creamy beans and spices. Once you have tried this stew, you’ll understand why this dish is a famous food in Egypt.
Traditional Egyptian Food – Street Food Style
Egypt, like many other Middle-Eastern countries, has a lot of tapas-style meals, with small plates being common throughout Egyptian cuisine. These dishes are full of flavor and guaranteed to fill you up.
Koshari (Lentil, Rice and Macaroni)
This dish is a popular Egyptian street food throughout the country. Mainly consisting of lentils, chickpeas, rice, macaroni, and all topped off with a spiced tomato sauce and crispy onions. A dish that was originally popular with laborers, this beloved comfort food became widespread in restaurants in more recent times.
Regardless of where you grab your Koshari from, it is a little dish of carby goodness and really has combined many different cultures into its creation.
Falafel (Fava Bean Fritter)
We can’t forget the popular Falafel, which has its roots firmly planted in Egypt. It is not only a snack but can also be eaten for breakfast. What makes the Egyptian Falafel unique is that it is traditionally made with fava beans and not chickpeas. Great for consumption at any time of day, either on their own or in a pita, these little balls of deliciousness are very versatile.
Aish Baladi (Egyptian Flat Bread)
Also known as Emmer, this Egyptian flatbread is very similar to pitta bread but instead made with whole flour. It is a traditional bread in Egyptian food and an everyday staple across the whole of the country. This style of bread has been cooked since ancient Egyptian times, and it is consumed every day and used in many dishes, mainly as an accompaniment.
Hummus (Chickpea Dip)
Who doesn’t love hummus? This extremely popular dip not only goes well with Aish Baladi, but is also a favorite among traditional Egyptian food. In addition, Hummus is also commonly eaten with falafel. This dish also dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries, when it was more chunky in texture.
Tarb (Egyptian Kofta Kebab)
This Egyptian dish is a twist on the more common ‘Kofta’. Here, the Tarb will use similar ingredients to a kofta and then wrapped in a layer of lamb fat and then grilled to a golden brown. Featuring a delicious combination of beef, onions, and spices, this is very popular in many restaurants across Egypt.
Hawowshi (Meat Sandwich)
A staple of Egyptian foods; traditionally, this sandwich dish is made in a pita or Aish Baladi, which is then stuffed with minced meat, onions, chilies, pepper, and parsley. Sounds simple but oh so yummy. There are many variants of this style of sandwich, and you’ll be spoilt for choice with this popular Egyptian dish.
Mahshy (Stuffed Vegetables)
These stuffed vegetables will blow your mind. Available in many different forms and loaded with everything from zucchinis, bell peppers, eggplants, vine leaves, and so much more. Traditionally also stuffed with rice, these special mixtures make this an interesting dish to have. Try to order a mixed plate if you can to try its many variants.
Baba Ghanoush (Roasted Eggplant Dip)
How can we not discuss this exceptional dish whilst discussing Egyptian foods? It does have Lebanese origins but is widespread in Egyptian cuisine. Prepared from roasted eggplant and blended with garlic, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, and spices.
Usually served cold and a part of a mezze style platter, the smokiness from the roasted eggplant makes this a must-have dish when you visit Egypt. If you have been lucky enough to have Baba Ghanoush in your home country, trying this dish in Egypt will leave you spoiled and wanting to go back to Egypt for more.
Masaa’a (Eggplant Curry)
A vegan dish that is very typical of curry-style Egyptian food, with the main ingredient being eggplants. In addition to eggplants, this spicy little dish also contains potatoes, chickpeas, bell peppers, and a lot of fragrant spices. A delicious dish best served with rice and, as always, with some pita bread.
Sayadieh (Seasoned White Fish and Rice)
This beautifully seasoned fish dish is one of the more well-known Egyptian food when it comes to fish. It mainly uses white fish such as haddock or cod, and comes with rice full of spices from cumin, cinnamon, and caraway. This Egyptian dish is well known across the Middle East and varies from country to country and from restaurant to restaurant.
If you are traveling around Egypt, you will find this dish pretty much everywhere but with slightly different spices. It is delicious and goes fantastic with the rice it comes served with.
Traditional Egyptian Food – Soups
Soups are a staple in any country, and all have their own unique twist on these classic dishes. Egypt is no exception, and these soups are ones you are more likely to come across when you visit.
Molokhia (Jute Leaf Soup)
This soup is in close contention to also be a famous food of Egypt, and once you have tried it, it is easy to see why. It is made from the leaves of a leafy shrub, more commonly known as the jute mallow. These leaves are finely chopped up and boiled in chicken broth with garlic, coriander, and other seasonings.
Molokhia can come served with either rice or our now well-known Aish Baladi and is excellent alongside meat or fish dishes. This traditional dish can be made with so many vegetables, so don’t be surprised to see different variations of Molokhia on your Egyptian travels.
Halabessa (Chickpea Soup)
This Egyptian dish is technically a soup but is quite commonly served in cups with straws. Halabessa is made with chickpeas, tomatoes, onion, and garlic as well as spices, all boiled together to make a delicious soup. You’ll get a handy little spoon to eat the chickpeas with.
It is popular in kiosks alongside the Nile, this is definitely an eating experience you will never forget while overlooking one of the world’s most famous rivers.
Mains In Egyptian Food And Cuisine
A lot of Egyptian foods can be easily eaten at any time of day, from breakfast, lunch, and even dinner. The foods are so versatile and delicious no matter when you decide to devour one.
Shawarma (Meat Kebab)
A traditional Arab dish, it is a massive hit in Egypt, especially in Cairo, as well as the entire Middle East. All contained within a pita bread or a wrap, thinly shaved pieces of meat have been grilled on a rotisserie and stuffed with fresh salad, hot sauce, and tahini.
Shawarma meat is slowly roasted in its own fat and juices whilst rotating on a vertical style spit. The meat is so tender that it will melt in your mouth. If you miss out on this dish whilst in Egypt, you will be sorely disappointed.
Kebda Eskandarani (Liver Sandwich)
Especially popular in the Alexandria region in the north of Egypt; this traditional Egyptian food is made from fried beef liver with some spicy seasonings. It is usually served in sandwich form, or on its own with a rice accompaniment and Aish Baladi. You can commonly find this amongst street food carts, it is a great dish to have on the go.
Makarona Beshamel (Egyptian Baked Pasta)
It may seem unusual to see pasta as a go-to dish in Egyptian cuisine. Still, this pasta dish is a very popular dish amongst the Egyptian locals. Made with either macaroni or penne, it is cooked with a bechamel and minced beef sauce, as well as onions and tomato sauce.
The Egyptian dish is usually baked in an oven, similar to mac and cheese in the US. It comes out all lovely and gooey and just absolutely delicious. Makarona Beshamel is incredibly filling, so it can be eaten on its own.
Akawi (Ox Tail Stew)
Akawi is made from ox tail; usually slow cooked in a casserole dish alongside tomatoes and onions. Served with some pita bread and white rice, it can get quite messy, as tradition states that it can only be eaten with your hands.
Be prepared to get stuck in as you might suddenly find that everything tastes better when eating with your hands. A worthy mess to fill your stomach and indulge in this hearty Egyptian dish.
Feter (Flakey Egyptian Pie)
A traditional and yet heavy Egyptian food; this is more easily described as a pie, but maybe not what you used to. Made from many layers of thin pastry, it can either come plain or be filled with sweet or savory ingredients. Anything from chicken, sausages, minced meat, and vegetables, to sweet fillings such as sugar custard, can be used to fill this buttery pie; make sure you try as many different styles as you can.
Hamam Mahsi (Stuffed Pigeons)
This is quite an uncommon dish outside of the Middle East but extremely tasty nonetheless. Before these birds are stuffed, they are first boiled. When this is done, they are then stuffed with spicy rice, onions, nuts, and giblets before being roasted or grilled.
Mombar (Stuffed Sausages)
Similar to Mahshy, this dish is also stuffed with rice. This Egyptian dish is a type of sausage made from sheep intestines. Not only can this style of sausage be filled with rice, it can also contain a mixture of meat and spices. Recipes will vary wherever you buy them from, but they are delicious no matter what you choose.
Bamya (Okra Stew)
A popular and common stew-style Egyptian dish, okra or lady’s finger is one of the main ingredients used in the country. This versatile dish can be left as a vegetarian meal or slow-cooked with meat. The base of this tasty stew will contain tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and spices. It is best served with either white rice or pita bread.
FLAVORS AROUND THE WORLD
Sweets And Pastries In Egyptian Cuisine
There are so many delicious sweet Egyptian foods we will not be able to cover them all here today. But here are just a few to get you in the mood; you can find more tasty dishes in our list of best Egyptian desserts and sweets.
Kunafa (Cream Cheese Pastry)
Kunafa or Konofa, is not only a popular traditional food of Egypt but in many countries throughout Western Asia and the Balkans. It is made from several layers of shredded phyllo pastry and sweet milky cheese, and finished off with pistachios and drizzled with simple sugar syrup. You’ll definitely be going back for seconds and thirds with this beautiful dessert.
This popular dessert is in particularly high demand during Ramadan; you will be able to find it everywhere. In this modern day and age, there are dozens of different flavors available, including the old classics of the original dish, and every year new recipes get created.
Kahk (Egyptian Biscuit/Cookie)
This small round biscuit has its origins in Egyptian food; it is eaten around Easter and Eid al-Fitr across the Arab world. These little biscuits are made with ghee, honey, sesame seeds, and occasionally nuts and covered with powdered sugar. It is quite popular when served plain as it is, since it doesn’t have a lot of sweetness.
However, there are still many delicious Kahk that have also been prepared with other ingredients, including pistachios, dates, lokum and more, to help add that extra sweetness if so desired. These biscuits were also eaten back in ancient Egyptian times and have changed very little since.
Sweet Goulash/Baklava (Phyllo Dough Dessert)
You may be more accustomed to this dish being a Baklava in other countries around the world, here in Egypt it is known as Goulash. Very different to a savory Goulash, the Egyptian take on the Baklava is an experience. Layered phyllo is stuffed with a sweet cream, soaked in sugar syrup, and garnished with nuts.
The original Baklava is also available throughout Egypt, which is again phyllo filled with pistachios and nuts before being soaked in a sugary syrup. If you are a lover of Baklava, the Egyptian twist on this classic dessert is not one to be missed.
Om Ali (Egyptian Bread Pudding)
The Egyptian version of bread and butter pudding, this dessert is a firm favorite among locals and will probably also be yours after one mouthful. This Egyptian dish is a contender to being Egypt’s national dessert, and it’s no wonder why.
Translating directly to mean Ali’s Mother, this dessert is traditionally made from stale bread and milk. Om Ali also contains sugar and butter it is then baked in the oven before being topped off with some nuts – especially pistachios, and possibly some whipped cream, all depending on where you buy it. Either way, this dessert is divine.
Discovering Tasty Egyptian Food
Whatever brought you to Egypt, whether it’s ancient history or a sunny exploration trip, the gastronomic experience is another reason to go back. Many of the Egyptian dishes above have been around for thousands of years; you can boast that you’ve eaten desserts that Pharaohs will have had on their plates.
With Egypt’s unique geographic position, being surrounded by so many world-renowned cuisines, their own traditional Egyptian food has taken on so many influences. This created some truly amazing dishes that will not only blow your mind but your taste buds as well.
From delicious dips such as Baba Ganoush to Hummus, to fantastic mains such as Makarona Beshamel and Bamya, and finishing off with delightful desserts with Om Ali and Kunafa. You will find so much satisfaction in Egyptian food, and enjoy every moment of it.