When people hear ‘Egypt,’ their minds wander straight to Pyramids, camels, the occasional Pharaoh, beautiful beaches, etc. However, if you ever get the chance to visit this beautiful land, then you’ll soon find out it is also known for its delicious and unique national dishes.
Now, I am definitely biased in this scenario as I originate from Cairo. However, take it from an Egyptian herself, I know what I’m talking about. Below, I have listed five gorgeous dishes that you won’t regret trying once stepping foot off that airplane.
Molokhaya, or as 12-year-old me would call it: ‘the green soup’, is one of Egypt’s signature dishes. Mmmm, go ahead and eat this like a King (or Pharaoh). Molokhaya was once upon a time served to the elites, however, now it is common comfort food for most.
If you go to any Egyptian’s house for the first time, be sure to prepare yourself and leave plenty of room in your belly, as this soup will undoubtedly land in your bowl.
Molokhaya is a traditional stew made of leafy greens, mixed with coriander and fried garlic. It is prepared in chicken, beef, or seafood broth. You can find that it is made differently all around the country. For example, in Alexandria people commonly eat it with shrimp or fish. However, in our family, we usually prepared it with chicken and rice.
If you want a low-calorie dish, which is also suitable for vegetarians (depending on how it’s cooked), then molokhaya is the answer for you. You’ll be halfway to applying for that Egyptian citizenship.
Macarona bel bashamel
Be prepared to crave this constantly after your first taste. Macarona bel bashamel is my ultimate favorite Egyptian dish. My mom would prepare this every time I visited her on the weekends, needing a break from my usual university microwave meals. This would instantly satisfy my taste buds and cancel out all those so-called ‘meals’ I made as a student.
If you love all that is cheese, even despite being lactose intolerant (if you know, you know), then you’ll find yourself googling ways to make it back home once the holiday is over.
Macarona bel bashamel is basically Egypt’s own twist on lasagna or macaroni and cheese. So, if you are a fan of either, I can only assume you’d appreciate Egypt’s delicious version of it. I for one am guilty of eating lasagna for a whole summer once, so we can all admit we have a weak point. Macarona bel bashamel could surely be one of yours.
This meal is made with rigatoni noodles, minced meat cooked in chopped onion and tomato paste, topped with the classic béchamel sauce. Ugh yum, just do it.
I’m sure the majority of you know what shawarma is, and have probably tried various versions of it.
Shawarma is the classic meal that you’ll get on the road and that’ll satisfy and fill you up. It is a very well known street food that can be served in various different countries, therefore, it is commonly a known source of Arabic ‘fast food’. Originally, shawarma comes from the Greek gyros, but Egyptians changed it up and made it their own.
Unlike most junk food, shawarma can be a healthier alternative. They can differ with what is put inside as well, but typically it is served with tahini and the chicken is shaved off and served with tomato and garlic sauce. Make sure to not be wearing anything expensive, as this can get messy, but extremely worth the rush.
Falafel - Ta’maya
Ta’maya is one that took me a while to appreciate. For the longest time, I refused to even try it (I pretty much refused to try anything healthy). But one day I was at my friend's house and her mom would not take no for an answer until I tried ta’maya during breakfast, and boy, was I missing out all those years!
Falafel is traditionally served at breakfast alongside ful, eggs, cheese, and pita bread. Traditional falafel is made with chickpeas, but Egyptian falafel (ta’maya) is made with fava beans. The fava beans are definitely what did the trick on me. I became addicted to this breakfast dish and had a complete 180 turn around.
The fava beans should be soaked overnight to soften, then crushed in a food processor. They are then mixed together and are thrown in with chopped cilantro, white onion, garlic, parsley, and leek, which equals the green color.
Try this out if you haven’t already, don’t be as silly as I was, and soon you’ll be replacing your traditional American full breakfast with some delicious bright green ta’maya.
Don’t worry, I would never forget about the best end to a meal… the dessert. Last, but not least, is Egyptian’s popular sweet Konafa.
Konafa is a typical Egyptian dessert which is most popular during the beautiful month of Ramadan that happens once a year. This is a great way to break your fast and celebrate with your friends and family.
Now, Konafa is a different type of sweet when compared to your typical chocolate brownie. It is made of shredded Konafa pieces, filled with cream or cheese, and sprinkled with syrup. I know my sweet-tooth got a full kick out of this one. Be prepared to have your heart won over by this delicious dessert, and to save a piece for the others!
Egypt is always welcoming tourists with open arms, so definitely consider visiting this beautiful country. Enjoy the waves, enjoy the scenery, and most definitely make some room for your new favorite flavors!
p.s. If you love trying out new food and sauces, check out the BfB factory online. They make sauces and spices from all over. They create 100% natural sauces and smoked salt. Typically suitable for Arabic food, however, the tastes are made for a variation of flavors. So check them out if you can and get ready to be truly wined and dined!