Foods of Egypt

Well I had promised Hemu ………..that I would be making this blog entry ……and I’m keeping my promise. However before I proceed ……..I should warn those of you who are vegetarian ……..to read on at your own risk – as you may not really like what you are going to read. But those of you who are true-blue non vegetarians like me ……….. please go on ……you are going to get a glimpse of heaven. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Before I left to Egypt ………..I had ‘heard’ that Egypt ……..like North Korea has Ostrich farms and as would be it ………….. it was on my wish-list to eat Ostrich. Along with that …………being an Islamic country …….I wouldn’t have minded eating Camel meat as well. One other thing I was pretty clear about was that I would avoid Indian restaurants as much as I could. However as luck would have it ……….the moment I landed in my hotel ………my colleagues who had been there for a week before me ……….dragged me to a popular Indian restaurant called Kandahar. It is actually a twin restaurant with another Lebanese restaurant called Rocher attached to Kandahar. The kitchen for the two is the same. I ordered a paratha dish which had lamb meat as the paratha filling. I was very hungry ……………..and the lamb meat was very tasty. I hadn’t eaten such tasty lamb in all my life. That was the beginning ………..and all along whenever I ordered for lamb ………anywhere in Cairo ……I was never disappointed.

Before I move on to authentic Egyptian food ……..let me exhaust myself about the various kinds of meat which were available there.

Shortly in a couple of days I traveled to Iskandriya (Alexandria) on a pleasure trip with friends. The fun part of Iskandriya was not only the really blue Mediterranean Sea and the superb climate………but the fantastic fish which we got there. In Egypt ………there are restaurants which specialize in sea food ……….which commonly call themself – ‘Fish Market’. Here the way the fish is prepared is that ………….there are raw fish which are spread on a huge pile of ice. You are expected to choose the variety of fish you want from the spread of raw fish there……and the particular fish you are interested in ………..and then instruct them to prepare the fish as grilled or fried. Its interesting to note the way this fish is served. First they would bring in the traditional Egyptian pita bread with various sauces/chutneys. The famous ones are Hummus, Babaganush and Tahina. They would get all the three along with some salads. It is expected to be your appetizer before the fish arrives. The fish would then arrive and then you can apply some Tahina and eat it ……………and its like a piece of heaven. The fish which I ate in Iskandriya was particularly tasty. I did not get the same taste even in Cairo. The most famous fish restaurant in Iskandriya is called ‘Fish Market’ ……….which has a spectacular view of the sea from there. I enjoyed the view and the food.

It was only in Cairo when I had a similar dish in a big boat on the river Nile …with my mother …on the night Egypt won the Africa Cup – that I had another good experience with sea food and a spectacular view of the Nile flowing all around you ……………..and the city at night all like a bride decked for her wedding.

My next excursion was to a Chinese restaurant called La Peking ………where I ordered a dish of duck. The taste was remotely familiar ………..as I remember having eaten duck when I was a very small kid. It was good though ………but not as fantastic as the lamb.

Later at another Indian cum Chinese restaurant ………….called Maharajah ……..I ordered for ostrich. The guy got a meat which very much tasted like duck. But I could never authoritatively say it was/wasn’t Ostrich meat ……..as I hadn’t eaten one.


Beef was abundantly present in Cairo ………..in various forms and tastes. Beef was ok ………as taste wise it isn’t very great ………although I did try it quite often.

Pork was not something which I remotely expected in Cairo ……….as it is an Islamic country. However I was in for a pleasant surprise when we went to this Pizzeria called ‘Thomas Pizza’ …….which is an international pizza brand. I went there with a co project manager …….and Egyptian Muslim. He was casually mentioning that many Egyptians don’t visit this restaurant as they serve pork – and it is mainly foreigners who visit it. That was a good enough hint for me to order a pork pizza – and man it was quite tasty.

Later my mom came and she advised me to try pigeon meat while I was there ………….as it is particularly good for health. I wasn’t too keen on trying it out ……..as the thought of eating pigeon was a bit revolting. However when my mom seemed to favour me eating pigeon ………..I persuaded myself to try it. I got the opportunity when we were invited to the home of our Satyam Egypt country-head. There we ate the dish – Hamam mashwi …….which is grilled pigeon with rice stuffing. It was good and a different taste.

I went on to try camel meat as well ………which is not a story worth telling ……..although the meat was good.

Before I move to Egyptian dishes ……….there are a couple of very good Indian restaurants and a few Japanese and Mexican restaurants which I particularly enjoyed. The Indian ones where Maharani which is a restaurant in a river boat called La Pacha. There is another restaurant called the Kabul which is located in the fabulous ‘Meena Oberoi’ Hotel …….bang opposite to the Pyramids of Giza.

The japanese restaurants which I liked are the ‘Fusion’ which is again located on the banks of the Nile and the ‘Teriyaaki’ restaurant in Mohideseen area. There is a fantastic Mexican restaurant …(I forget its name) which is located in the huge City Stars mall in Heliopolis area.

Egyptian food:
While I have already covered a few sauces and non vegetarian items there are a huge repertoire of vegetarian dishes which I enjoyed as well.

The first of these is the Karkadee flower juice. This is a flower related to the Hibiscus flower. This flower is dried and then boiled in hot water ……..mixed with sugar and drunk. Its very tasty and very good for health. I got two packets to India as well.

Taamiya is a dish like our Ugaadi vadeh and is prepared with chickpeas and spices.

Kosheree is another vegetarian dish prepared with rice, macaroni, spaghetti and channa dal. While this dish is very much stomach filling ……….it is something which is eaten by low end people and is very abundantly and cheaply available.

Shai (Chai) and Koffee (Nescafe) were abundantly available at the universities we were working at.

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7 thoughts on “Foods of Egypt

  1. Even before reading your blog my mouth has started watering. After reading this piece I realize that there exist a mini zoo in your stomach. Had you brought all the animals and birds you ate in Australia and Egypt alive that would have been sufficient to start a mini zoo in India.

    When one of my friend returned from China tour his sister asked him to drink grape water and wash his stomach before entering the house now I understand the reason behind it.

    My mouth is watering and my stomach is craving for lamb meat. I am feeling hungry all of a sudden to satisfy my hunger I should eat some good non veg stuff this weekend or else I will end up knocking on Rajiv’s house to treat me with some good food.
    Some how I don’t enjoy fish dishes though I like some dishes I eat it purely for health point of view, the smell itself put me off.

    I love non veg being vegetarian for 15 years now feel I have wasted that many years due to my foolishness but for me non veg food does not extend behind chicken and occasional goat meat. To try all the stuff you have described in your blog I think I should go to Egypt or else I may end up in jail giving company to Salman Khan.

  2. In India ………to eat stuff beyond chicken and mutton ……you have to keep your eyes and ears open.

    Good quality pork and beef are available in reliable super markets like Nilgiris in various forms.

    Also since you are in Hyderbad ……..during Ramzan time there is a high likelihood of getting camel meat ….if you know where to get it.

    Quails is another bird which you can get in good hotels. Turkey is something you can easily get in Russel market ….during Christmas and other times as well.

    If you happen to come to Chennai do visit Ponnuswamy Hotel ……where they serve you rabbit meat on certain days. You really don’t have to be a Salman Khan ……..you get a great deal of variety in India as well.

  3. How can Rajiv miss some thing from the menu? It is surprising to me. Did u miss it bec it is some boring veg stuff for u?

    I feel Rajiv u should still eat it when u go to Egypt next time. The Eyptian Pig, Goat, Cow etc etc etc and etc u ate in there might just love to have some veggy stuff for company in ur stomach after long time.

    By the by what is Basboosa? Baklava? and Khonafa? Please tell me should i watch National Geography Channel or read some journal on wild life to know what it is?

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