When it comes to food, Egyptians know their way around. It is all about generosity, never expect to be fed small portions, and always be prepared for unexpected extras on the house, such as freshly baked bread and dips, or a refreshing after-meal cup of “karkadeh” [hibiscus tea].

Egyptian cuisine caters to all types of palates, including hard-core carnivores, vegetarians, and vegans. It might not be as diversified as other Middle-Eastern cuisines, but it is simple and tasty, mostly relying on vegetables, herbs, lamb and chicken.

Get to know some of the must-eat Egyptian staples

Egyptian Dishes, Food and Drink


Made from the leafy green vegetable called mallow in the West and eaten throughout the Middle East, it is a stew with a soup like texture, usually cooked with chicken or rabbit, and flavoured with coriander and lots of garlic. Served with rice, it is delicious, healthy, and filling. Variations on Mouloukhiya are many; some cook it with chunks of lamb, or both chicken and lamb together. It is also served with different garnishes, ranging from a spicy tomato dressing, to lemon juice, to vinegar and chopped onions.


Egypt has loads of shoreline and so, fresh seafood is abundant and delicious. Have some of today’s catch fried in olive oil, grilled over hot coals, or cooked in a “Tajin” [clay pot]. The fish that is most commonly eaten in Egypt is ‘balti’ which is a grey silver fish that is long and almost flat, or ‘bouri’ which is known in the West as mullet. ‘Gambari’ and ‘calamari’, prawns and squid respectively are also common delicacies.

Dawood Basha

Made with small balls of kofta [ground meat with parsley and onion], cooked in a thick tomato sauce served on a bed of rice and garnished with roasted pine nuts, this hearty and delicious meal is a favourite in the Middle East. The best Dawood Basha is made with lamb and is cooked home, but many restaurants feature it on their menus. You know it is cooked right when the tomato sauce does not overpower the taste of the meat. This dish was named after a prominent Ottoman politician.


Perhaps the most famous Egyptian snack food is Koshari. It is sold by street vendors and small shops throughout Egypt and a sure sign that a place offers Koshari is a great big silver pot in the window. Made from rice, lentils, fried onions, and pasta then coated in a thick tomato sauce, which can sometimes be quite spicy, it is the all time Egyptian favourite. Add some vinegar with garlic to the mix and you have a tasty, economical, and interesting lunch or dinner.


Purple and refreshing, what could be better? Karkadeh is made by boiling dried red hibiscus flowers, and then chilling the water. With a little sugar the flavour is between sweet and sour and nothing tastes quite as great as you cruise down the Nile. It can also be enjoyed hot as an herbal tea, and has a number of benefits; it is a good source of Vitamin C and minerals, and in large amounts it can be used to fight high blood pressure.

Umm Ali

Made with layers of bread soaked in milk and bursting with raisins and sometimes nuts, then baked in the oven until the surface is golden brown, this Egyptian specialty is loved around the Middle East. The result is a creamy cake like finish with raisin explosions in your mouth. The best Umm Ali is home cooked but you will find it at most local Egyptian restaurants; it is also regularly served on Nile Cruisers.

Hamam mahshi [Stuffed Pigeon]

Mouthwateringly succulent, these small pigeons are stuffed with rice or “fereek” [green wheat] and then roasted. While eating it’s recommended that you watch out for the tiny bones. One of Egypt’s most loved dishes, it’s definitely worth trying, you will find many places that serve this specialty at the entrance to Khan el Khalili in Cairo, and it can also be found at upscale eateries. The pigeon has a different taste than chicken and the meat is a little darker, it is full of flavour and the stuffing is delectable.

Aish Baladi

In Arabic Aish means life, and for the Egyptian people bread is the most important component of every meal. It is usually made with a mixture of whole meal and white flour and then backed near an open flame, resulting in a pita like result. Aish Baladi is found just about anywhere in Egypt from street vendors to supermarkets, Aish Mirahrah, is thinner and crispier resembling chapatti. It is found in more rural areas. Aish is used to scoop up food and to make sandwiches of taameya or shawarma [strips of grilled meat or chicken].


Known in other Middle Eastern countries as falafel, this delicious vegetarian friendly food is a staple in Egypt. It is pounded broad beans mixed with lots of spices, moulded into the shape of a miniature doughnut, deep fried until it is nice and crunchy then made into a sandwich with lots of vegetables and tahini sauce. It is one of the Egyptian versions of snack food and the best taameya is usually found at street vendors or small family shops.

Ful Medammes

Also simply called “Ful”, “Ful Medammas” is one of Egypt’s favourite, cheapest and most popular quick eats. It consists of slow-cooked fava beans seasoned with salt, garlic, chopped parsley, lemon, olive oil, black pepper and cumin. “Ful” is usually eaten at breakfast, but you can buy it at anytime of the day, in the small shop around the corner or at any restaurant serving local and middle-eastern food. It is usually served with bread [Aish] which comes in handy to scoop out the small beans. Enjoy!