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Egyptian cuisine is distinguished by its own oriental Arab character, it is very popular among all Arab and international cuisines as well, which leads to arousing the curiosity of other peoples to visit Egypt in order to taste its traditional food, Egyptian restaurants abroad are very popular as well.
History of Egyptian food
The history of Egyptian food dates back to the era of the Pharaohs and the ancient Egyptians, like bread, which is still present in all kinds and forms, Kahk, which are increasingly made and sold on holidays and occasions, and beans with its derivatives.
Throughout the ages, the Egyptian cuisine was influenced by different new foods, as it was affected during the Fatimid era by introducing different types of sweets, most notably the sweets that spread in the markets during the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet, which is in the form of a doll for girls and a horse for boys, and during the Ottoman era, new varieties were also introduced, most notably Daoud Pasha kofta.
With global openness and the Internet which provided the ability to know all cultures, Egyptian food included new varieties from different cuisines, but with the Egyptian touch.
Some Egyptian sweets have been around for hundreds of years, and some have stories for their name
- Om Ali: consists of a mixture of cheese or other types of pastries mixed with milk, cream and sugar, and now other ingredients are added to make it taste good. The reason for its naming is due to the murder of Shajarat al-Durr by her husband’s wife, as a result of her killing their husband, Izz al-Din Aybak, and this woman had a son from Izz al-Din Aybak called (Ali), and in celebration of her husband’s revenge, she ordered to make innovative sweets and distribute them to the people, so the chefs invented this mixture and named it Om Ali after her.
- Knafeh: Knafeh is found in many Arab countries, but each country has its own recipe of it, in Egypt, it is prepared by mixing it with sugar and ghee, stuffing it with different fillings, frying it in the oven, and adding sugar syrup to it at the end. Knafeh is most prepared in Egypt during the holy month of Ramadan.
- Kahk and biscuits: For hundreds of years, Egyptian oriental Kahk and biscuits have been prepared during Islamic holidays such as Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha and during wedding occasions, sometimes the one who prepares it distributes part of it to friends and neighbors as a kind of spreading joy and celebration. It is prepared from flour, ghee, sugar and some other additives, Egyptian women have been decorating Kahk since ancient times with tools intended for engraving on them.
- Qatayef: are small round pancakes that are prepared with a mixture of flour, water and other ingredients, and filled with many different types of fillings. They can be eaten raw or fried in oven or oil, and a sugar solution can be added to them, they are commonly prepared in the holy month of Ramadan.
- Meshabek: The Egyptian city of Damietta is famous for the meshabek sweet, it is prepared from starch, flour, sugar, water and yeast, it is fried with oil, and a sugar solution is added to it at the end.
- Asabe Zainab: Stories and novels differed about the reason for its name, but the most romantic one is that after the battle of Ain Jalut and the return of the Muslims to Egypt and the holding of celebrations, al-Zahir Baybars ordered the preparation and distribution of sweets, and when he tasted them he was so impressed that he asked one of the chefs about them and because of his tension, he said that it was (Zainab’s fingers) because there were traces of the fingers of the woman who prepared it on the sweets, so Al-Zahir Baybars thought that it was the real name of the dessert, he asked to meet Zainab with whom he fell in love and married later.
Egyptian traditional food
- Ful Mudammas: is eaten throughout the year, and among the most prominent Egyptian breakfast dishes, it is also eaten at the Suhoor meal during the holy month of Ramadan. It is prepared by mixing the bean plant with many other ingredients and cooking them together until it is fully cooked, it is then mashed or eaten as whole granules after adding other ingredients to it, such as spices, lemon, oil, vegetables, and others.
- The Egyptian Koshary: The Egyptian Koshary is one of the most famous Egyptian dishes, which is also known outside Egypt and is very popular, and is preferred by the majority of Egyptians. It is a mixture of ingredients (pasta in different shapes, Egyptian rice, lentils with cheese, chickpeas, and fried onions) and each item is cooked separately until it is fully cooked, then all these ingredients are mixed together with some sauce.
- Stuffed vegetables: Egypt is famous for its various types of stuffed vegetables, a mixture of Egyptian rice and vegetables is made, sometimes minced meat is added, and they are stuffed in peppers, zucchini, eggplant, onions, potatoes, grape leaves, or cabbage leaves after boiling them, to be cooked together and eaten with meat or poultry.
- Mulukhiyah: The most famous Egyptian food, which is a green plant that is chopped and mixed with soup, and the so-called (tasha) is added at the end, which is hot oil or ghee, to which chopped garlic and coriander are added, Mulukhiyah is eaten with rice or with bread.
- Okra soup: This food is commonly prepared in Upper Egypt, and it consists of okra that is cooked with meat, garlic and coriander, it is mashed and eaten with bread or rice.
- Al-Basara: One of the traditional dishes that is less famous now, it is a mixture of beans, leeks, and onions that are prepared to be cooked together, to eventually become a creamy texture, and it is eaten with bread.
- Dairy products: Egyptian food is fatty food, dairy products such as ghee and murta, which resembles a creamy texture, cottage cheese, butter and cream, are widespread in Egypt, so that they can be eaten in their natural form or added to other foods.
The most famous Egyptian drinks
- Tamarind: It is prepared more during the holy month of Ramadan and eaten for breakfast, and it is considered one of the most delicious Egyptian cold drinks.
- Qamar al-Din: It is one of the drinks commonly consumed during the holy month of Ramadan, and it is prepared from dried apricots, sugar and water.
- Sahlab: Sahlab drink is commonly prepared in the winter, popular Egyptian cafes are famous for serving it, and it is prepared from a powder consisting of starch and nuts, which is added to milk or water.
- Tea: Tea is known in different countries and comes with different flavors, but it remains one of the most important, famous and prominent Egyptian drinks that is present in every Egyptian house.
- Sherbet: Sherbet juice or drink is served on Egyptian occasions, and it is usually prepared from rose water, sugar and lemon.
- Moghat: It is often served to guests at the Sebou’ ceremony, the mother eats it in the postpartum period because it produces milk, and it is prepared from a group of herbs, sesame, ghee and milk.
- Sugarcane juice: Egypt is famous for cultivating sugar cane, and therefore it is distinguished for preparing its juice. It is prepared by squeezing the cane itself inside certain machines to extract the liquid from it. This drink is characterized by its great popularity and low price.
- Liquorice: It is common to drink licorice during the holy month of Ramadan, and it is characterized by its many benefits, such as strengthening the immune system. It is also allowed to drink it for diabetics, but it is not allowed for patients with high blood pressure, and it is served cold.
- Roselle drink: It is one of the famous Egyptian drinks, it is commonly served to patients with high blood pressure, it is characterized by many other benefits, and it is served hot or cold.