Egyptian cuisine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Egyptian cuisine makes heavy use of legumes, vegetables and fruits since Egypt's rich Nile valley and delta produce large quantities of these crops in high quality.

Features[edit]

Spices common in Egyptian cuisine

Egyptian cuisine is notably conducive to vegetarian diets, as it relies heavily on legume and vegetable dishes. Though food in Alexandria and the coast of Egypt tends to use a great deal of fish and other seafood, for the most part Egyptian cuisine is based on foods that grow out of the ground. Meat has been very expensive for most Egyptians throughout history, so a great number of vegetarian dishes have been developed.

Egypt's Red Sea ports were the main points of entry for spices to Europe. Easy access to various spices has, throughout the years, left its mark on Egyptian cuisine. Cumin is the most commonly used spice. Other common spices include coriander, cardamom, chili, aniseed, bay leaves, dill, parsley, ginger, cinnamon, mint and cloves.[1]

The most common meats featured in Egyptian cuisine are rabbit, pigeon, chicken and duck, these are often boiled to make the broth for various stews and soups. Lamb and beef are the most common meats used for grilling. Grilled meats such as kofta (كفتة), kabab (كباب) and grilled cutlets are categorically referred to as mashwiyat (مشويات).

Offal is very popular in Egypt. Liver sandwiches, a specialty of Alexandria, are a popular fast-food in cities. Chopped-up pieces of liver fried with bell peppers, chili, garlic, cumin and other spices are served in a baguette-like bread called eish fino. Cow and sheep brain are eaten in Egypt.[2][3]

Cheeses[edit]

Cheese is thought to have originated in the Middle East, the manufacture of cheese is depicted in murals in Egyptian tombs from 2,000 BC.[4] Two alabaster jars found at Saqqara, dating from the First Dynasty of Egypt, contained cheese,[5] these were placed in the tomb about 3,000 BC.[6] They were likely fresh cheeses coagulated with acid or a combination of acid and heat. An earlier tomb, that of King Hor-Aha may also have contained cheese which, based on the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the two jars, appear to be from Upper and Lower Egypt,[7] the pots are similar to those used today when preparing mish.[8]

Although many rural people still make their own cheese, notably the fermented mish, mass-produced cheeses are becoming more common. Cheese is often served with breakfast, it is included in several traditional dishes, and even in some desserts.

  • Areesh (قريش) - A type of white, soft, lactic cheese made from laban rayeb.[9]
  • Baramily (براميلي) - A type of white cheese aged in barrels, the name translates to barrel cheese in English.
  • Domiati (دمياطي) - A soft white cheese usually made from cow or buffalo milk. It accounts for about three quarters of the cheese made and consumed in Egypt,[10] the cheese takes it name from the city of Damietta and is thought to originate in Egypt, being first made some time after 332 BC.[11]
  • Halumi (حلومي) - Similar to Cypriot halloumi, yet a different cheese. It may be eaten fresh or brined and spiced, the name comes from the Coptic word for cheese, "halum".
  • Istanboly (اسطنبولي) - A type of white cheese made from cow or buffalo milk, similar to feta cheese.
  • Mish (مش) - A sharp and salty product made by fermenting cheese for several months in salted whey. It is an important part of the diet of farmers.[12] Mish is often made at home from areesh cheese.[13] Products similar to mish are made commercially from different types of Egyptian cheese such as domiati or rumi, with different ages.[14]
  • Rumi (رومي) - A hard, bacterially ripened variety of cheese.[15] It belongs to the same family as Pecorino Romano and Manchego,[16] it is salty, with a crumbly texture, and is sold at different stages of aging.[12]

Bread[edit]

Eish baladi

Bread made from a simple recipe forms the backbone of Egyptian cuisine. It is consumed at almost all Egyptian meals; a working-class or rural Egyptian meal might consist of little more than bread and beans.[citation needed]

The local bread is a form of hearty, thick, glutenous pita bread called eish baladi (Egyptian Arabic: عيش [ʕeːʃ]; Modern Standard Arabic: ʿayš) rather than the Arabic خبز ḫubz. The word "[ʕeːʃ]" comes from the Semitic root ع-ي-ش ʕ-Ī-Š with the meaning "to live, be alive."[17] The word ʿayš itself has the meaning of "life, way of living...; livelihood, subsistence" in Modern Standard and Classical Arabic; folklore holds that this synonymity indicates the centrality of bread to Egyptian life.[17] In modern Egypt, the government subsidizes bread, dating back to a Nasser-era policy; in 2008, a major food crisis caused ever-longer bread lines at government-subsidized bakeries where there would normally be none; occasional fights broke out over bread, leading to fear of rioting.[18] Egyptian dissidents and outside observers of the former National Democratic Party regime frequently criticized the bread subsidy as an attempt to buy off the Egyptian urban working classes in order to encourage acceptance of the authoritarian system; nevertheless, the subsidy continued after the 2011 revolution.

On a culinary level, bread is commonly used as gamosa, a utensil, at the same time providing carbohydrates and protein to the Egyptian diet. Egyptians use bread to scoop up food, sauces, and dips and to wrap kebabs, falafel, and the like in the manner of sandwiches. Most pita breads are baked at high temperatures (450 °F or 232 °C), causing the flattened rounds of dough to puff up dramatically. When removed from the oven, the layers of baked dough remain separated inside the deflated pita, which allows the bread to be opened into pockets, creating a space for use in various dishes.

Eish merahrah [ʕeːʃ meˈɾɑħɾɑħ] is an Egyptian flat bread made with 5-10% ground fenugreek seeds added to maize flour. It is part of the traditional diet of the Egyptian countryside, prepared locally in village homes, the loaves are flat and wide, and usually about 50 cm in diameter. The maize flour is made into a soft dough that is fermented overnight with the help of a sourdough starter, then shaped into round loaves and allowed to rise or "proof" for 30 minutes before being flattened into round disks, which are then baked, this bread can be kept for days in an airtight container. The addition of fenugreek seeds increases the protein content, storage length and digestibility of the bread; on the other hand, it causes the eater to exude a distinctive odor in his or her sweat, which is occasionally mocked by more urban Egyptians.

Starters and salads[edit]

In Egypt meze, salads and cheeses are traditionally served at the start of a multi-course meal along with bread, before the main courses.

  • Baba ghannoug (بابا غنوج‎‎) - A dip made with eggplants, lemon juice, salt, pepper, parsley, cumin and oil.
  • Duqqa (دقة‎‎) - A dry mixture of chopped nuts, seeds and spices.
  • Gollash (جلاش) - A phyllo dough pastry stuffed with minced meat or cheese.
  • Ruqaq (رقاق) - A phyllo dough pastry similar to gollash but with a thicker dough.
  • Salata baladi (سلطة بلدي) - A salad made with tomatoes, cucumber, onion and chili topped with parsley, cumin, coriander, vinegar and oil.
  • Tehina (طحينة) - Sesame paste dip or spread made of sesame tahini, lemon juice, and garlic.
  • Torshi (طرشي) - An assortment of pickled vegetables.
  • Hummus (حمص) - A dip made from mashed chickpeas, it is often made with cumin in Egypt.

Main courses[edit]

Legumes on display in Alexandria. Legume-based dishes are prominent in Egyptian cuisine
Ful medames served with hard-boiled eggs
Grilled fish with a side of sayadiya rice
Grilled mullet coated in oat bran

Egyptian cuisine is characterized by dishes such as ful medames, mashed fava beans; kushari, a mixture of lentils, rice, pasta, and other ingredients; molokhiya, chopped and cooked bush okra with garlic and coriander sauce; and feteer meshaltet. Egyptian cuisine shares similarities with food of the Eastern Mediterranean region, such as rice-stuffed vegetables, grape leaves, shawarma, kebab, ta‘miya, baba ghannoug, and baklava.

Some consider kushari - a mixture of rice, lentils, and macaroni - to be the national dish. Ful medames is also one of the most popular dishes. Fava bean is also used in making falafel (most commonly referred to as ta‘miya in Egypt), which originated in Egypt and spread around to other parts of the Middle East.

Ancient Egyptians are known to have used a lot of garlic and onions in their everyday dishes. Fresh garlic mashed with other herbs is used in spicy tomato salad and also stuffed in boiled or baked eggplant. Garlic fried with coriander is added to molokhiya, a popular green soup made from finely chopped jute leaves, sometimes with chicken or rabbit. Fried onions can be also added to kushari.

English Arabic Definition
Bamia باميه A stew prepared using lamb, okra and tomatoes as primary ingredients
Bisara بسارة A paste made from peeled fava beans. It is served cold and is normally topped with fried onion.
‘Eggah عجة A type of omelette made with parsley and flour. It is baked in the oven in a deep skillet.
Fattah فتة A traditional dish eaten on festive occasions, particularly Eid al-Adha. A mixture of rice, chunks of lamb meat, eish baladi cut up into pieces and prebaked in the oven, all covered in a tomato and vinegar-based sauce.
Feseekh فسيخ Salted or fermented mullet, generally eaten on the spring festival of Sham El Nessim, which falls on Eastern Easter Monday.
Feteer فطير Pies made of thin dough with liberal quantities of samnah. The fillings may be either savory or sweet.
Ful medames فول مدمس A staple in Egypt. Cooked fava beans served with olive oil and topped with cumin, it is always eaten with bread, in a sandwich or as a utensil to scoop up the beans.
Ḥamam maḥshi حمام محشي Pigeon stuffed with rice or green wheat and herbs. First it is boiled until cooked, then roasted or grilled.
Hawawshi حواوشى A turnover pastry filled with minced meat marinated in onions, pepper, parsley and sometimes hot peppers or chilies.
Kabab كباب Usually chopped and minced lamb meat on skewers grilled over charcoal.
Kamounia كمونية A beef and cumin stew. It is sometimes made with offal, like bull genitals.
Kaware‘ كوارع Cow's trotters, it is often eaten with fattah. It is also common to boil the trotters into a broth, the tendons from the trotters and the resulting broth are enjoyed as a soup, it is believed to be an aphrodisiac in Egypt.
Kersha كرشة Tripe cooked into a stew.
Keshk کشک‎‎ A milk or yogurt savory pudding, made with flour, sometimes seasoned with fried onions, chicken broth or boiled chicken.
Kofta كفتة Finger-shaped balls of ground or minced meat grilled over charcoal.
Kushari كشرى‎‎ An Egyptian dish originally made in the 19th century, made of rice, macaroni and lentils mixed together, topped with a spiced tomato sauce, and garlic vinegar; garnished with chickpeas and crispy fried onions. A sprinkling of garlic juice, or garlic vinegar, and hot sauce are optional.
Macaroni béchamel معكرونه بالبشاميل An Egyptian variant of the Italian lasagna, without the cheese. Typically consists of penne slathered in bechamel sauce with a layer of slowly fried ground beef, onions and tomato paste, topped with some more penne in bechamel sauce, topped again with a thin layer of bechamel sauce and brushed with an egg wash, then baked to perfection, some prepare it as a variant of the Greek pastitsio, incorporating gebna rūmī, an Egyptian cheese similar to Sardo or Pecorino cheese, along with a mixture of penne macaroni and béchamel sauce, and usually two layers of cooked spiced meat with onions
Maḥshi محشي A stuffing of rice, seasoned with crushed red tomatoes, onion, parsley, dill, salt, pepper and spices, put into vegetables like green peppers, eggplants, courgettes, tomatoes, grape or cabbage leaves. They're then placed in a pot and topped with chicken broth or beef broth.
Mesa'a‘ah مسقعة‎‎ Sliced eggplants that are lightly grilled and placed in a flat pan with sliced onions, green peppers, and chili peppers. The dish is then covered with a red sauce made of tomato paste and spices and then baked in the oven.
Molokhiya ملوخية‎‎ Green soup prepared in various styles, wherein the mallow leaves are very finely chopped, with ingredients such as garlic and coriander added for a characteristic aromatic taste, then cooked with chicken broth. Other kinds of broths can be used such as rabbit, shrimp, which is popular in Alexandria, and fish in Port Said, it is often considered the country's national dish.
Mombar ممبار Sheep intestines stuffed with a rice mixture and deep fried in oil.
Rozz me‘ammar رز معمر‎ A rice dish made by adding milk (and frequently butter or cream) and chicken stock or broth to cooked rice and subsequently baking it in an oven. It is frequently substituted for plain white rice at festive occasions and large family meals, it is normally served in a special casserole made out of clay called bram.
Sayadiya صيادية A coastal dish. Rice cooked in tomato paste, usually served with fried fish.
Shakshouka شكشوكة‎‎ Eggs with tomato sauce and vegetables.
Shawerma شاورما A popular sandwich of shredded beef, lamb or chicken meat, usually rolled in pita bread with tehina sauce. This is a relatively recent import from Levantine cuisine, possibly brought by Lebanese or Palestinian immigrants, it has since become a firm part of the Egyptian culinary landscape.
Torly تورلي A tray of baked squash, potatoes, carrots, onions, and tomato sauce.
Qolqas قلقاس Taro root, generally peeled and prepared either with chard or tomato. Unpeeled qolqas and eggplant make the ṭabkha sawda, or "black dish," served to and despised by conscripts in the Egyptian Armed Forces.

Desserts[edit]

Basbousa topped with walnut
Umm Ali prepared in the oven
Feteer meshaltet

Egyptian desserts resemble other Eastern Mediterranean desserts. Basbousa (بسبوسة) is a dessert made from semolina and soaked in syrup. It is usually topped with almonds and traditionally cut vertically into pieces so that each piece has a diamond shape. Baqlawa (بقلاوة) is a sweet dish made from many layers of phyllo pastry, an assortment of nuts, and soaked in a sweet syrup. Ghuriyiba (غوريبة) is a sweet biscuit made with sugar, flour and liberal quantities of butter, similar to shortbread. It can be topped with roasted almonds or black cardamom pods.

Kahk (كحك) is a sweet biscuit served most commonly during Eid al-Fitr in Egypt. It is covered with icing sugar, and can also be stuffed with dates, walnuts, or ‘agameya (عجمية) (similar in texture to Turkish delight), or just served plain. Kunafa (كنافة‎‎ ) is a dish of batter "fingers" fried on a hot grill and stuffed with nuts (usually pistachios), eshta or other sweet fillings. As of late bakeries have begun making various concoctions based on the kunafa, like kunafa with dates, mango and even red velvet cake. Luqmet el qadi (لقمة القاضي) are small, round donuts that are crunchy on the outside and soft and syrupy on the inside. They are often served with dusted cinnamon and powdered sugar, the name literally translates to "The Judge's Bite". Atayef (قطايف) is a dessert served exclusively during the month of Ramadan, a sort of sweet crêpe filled with cream or nuts and raisins. Rozz be laban (ارز باللبن) is made with short grain white rice, full-cream milk, sugar, and vanilla. It can be served dusted with cinnamon, nuts and ice cream. Umm Ali (ام على), is a type of bread pudding served hot made with flaky pastry, nuts and raisins.

Other desserts include:

  • Feteer meshaltet[19] (فطير مشلتت)
  • Couscous (كسكسي) - Egyptian style, with butter or eshta as well as sugar, nuts and dried fruit.
  • Halawa (حلاوة)
  • Ladida (لديدة)
  • Malban (ملبن)
  • Mehalabeya (مهلبية)
  • Melabbes (ملبس)
  • Mifattah (مفتاة) - a thick paste of sesame and molasses.

Cuisine and religious practice[edit]

Although Ramadan is a month of fasting for Muslims in Egypt, it is usually a time when Egyptians pay a lot of attention to food variety and richness, since breaking the fast is a family affair, often with entire extended families meeting at the table just after sunset. There are several special desserts served almost exclusive during Ramadan, such as kunafa (كنافة , [koˈnæːfæ]) and qatayef (قطايف, [ʔɑˈtˤɑːjef]). In this month, many Egyptians prepare a special table for the poor or passers-by, usually in a tent in the street, called Ma'edet Rahman (Egyptian Arabic: مائدة رحمن‎‎, [mæˈʔedet ɾɑħˈmɑːn], which literally translates to "Table of the Merciful", referring to one of the 99 names of God in Islam. These may be fairly simple or quite lavish, depending on the wealth and ostentation of the provider.

Observant Christians in Egypt adhere to fasting periods according to the Coptic calendar; these may practically extend to more than two-thirds of the year for the most extreme and observant. The more secular Coptic population mainly fasts only for Easter and Christmas, the Coptic diet for fasting is essentially vegan. During this fasting, Copts usually eat vegetables and legumes fried in oil and avoid meat, chicken, and dairy products, including butter and cream.

Beverages[edit]

Tea[edit]

Egyptian mint tea

Tea (شاى, [ʃæːj]) is the national drink in Egypt, followed only distantly by coffee, prepared using the Turkish method. Egyptian tea is uniformly black and sour and is generally served in a glass, sometimes with milk. Tea packed and sold in Egypt is almost exclusively imported from Kenya and Sri Lanka. Egyptian tea comes in two varieties, Kushari and Sa'idi.

Kushari tea (شاى كشرى, [ʃæːj ˈkoʃæɾi]), popular in Lower Egypt, is prepared using the traditional method of steeping black tea in boiled water and letting it sit for a few minutes. It is almost always sweetened with cane sugar and often flavored with fresh mint leaves. Adding milk is also common. Kushari tea is usually light in color and flavor, with less than a half teaspoonful of tea per cup considered to be near the high end.

Sa'idi tea (شاى صعيدى, [ʃæːj sɪˈʕiːdi]) is common in Upper Egypt, it is prepared by boiling black tea with water for as long as five minutes over a strong flame. Sa'idi tea is extremely strong and dark ("heavy" in Egyptian parlance), with two teaspoonfuls of tea per cup being the norm, it is sweetened with copious amounts of cane sugar (a necessity since the formula and method yield a very bitter tea). Sa'idi tea is often black even in liquid form.

Tea is a vital part of daily life and folk etiquette in Egypt, it typically accompanies breakfast in most households, and drinking tea after lunch is a common practice. Visiting another person's household, regardless of socioeconomic level or the purpose of the visit, entails a compulsory cup of tea; similar hospitality might be required for a business visit to the private office of someone wealthy enough to maintain one, depending on the nature of the business. A common nickname for tea in Egypt is "duty" (pronounced in Arabic as "wa-jeb" or "wa-geb"), as serving tea to a visitor is considered a duty, while anything beyond is a nicety.

Hibiscus and other herbs in Hurghada

Besides true tea, herbal teas are also often served at Egyptian teahouses. Karkadeh (كركديه, [kæɾkæˈdeː]), a tea of dried hibiscus sepals, is particularly popular, as it is in other parts of North Africa. It is generally served extremely sweet and cold but may also be served hot, this drink is said to have been a preferred drink of the pharaohs. In Egypt and Sudan, wedding celebrations are traditionally toasted with a glass of hibiscus tea, on a typical street in downtown Cairo, one can find many vendors and open-air cafés selling the drink. In Egypt, karkadeh is used as a means to lower blood pressure when consumed in high amounts. Infusions of mint, cinnamon, dried ginger, and anise are also common, as is sahlab. Most of these herbal teas are considered to have medicinal properties as well; particularly common is an infusion of hot lemonade in which mint leaves have been steeped and sweetened with honey and used to combat mild sore throat.

Coffee[edit]

Coffee (قهوة, Egyptian Arabic: [ˈʔæhwæ], Saidi Arabic: gahwah [ˈɡahwa]) is considered a part of the traditional welcome in Egypt. It is usually prepared in a small coffee pot, which is called dalla (دلة) or kanakah [ˈkænækæ] (كنكه) in Egypt. It is served in a small cup made for coffee called (فنجان, Egyptian Arabic: [fenˈɡæːn]; Sa'idi: fenjān [fenˈdʒaːn]).

Juices[edit]

In Egypt, sugar cane juice is called aseer asab and is an incredibly popular drink served by almost all fruit juice vendors, who can be found abundantly in most cities.

Licorice teas and carob juice drinks are traditionally drunk during the Islamic month of Ramadan, as is qamar ad-din, a thick drink made by reconstituting sheets of dried apricot with water. The sheets themselves are often consumed as candy.

A sour, chilled drink made from tamarind is popular during the summer called Tamr Hindi, it literally means "Indian Dates", which is a local term for tamarind.[20][which?]

A sweet white beverage called sobia is a traditional Egyptian drink, especially sold in the holy month of Ramadan, and is a coconut flavored rice milk, it is sold in the many street vendors around in the towns of Egypt, where they are packed in plastic bottles.

Alcoholic beverages[edit]

A bottle of Luxor Weizen, a wheat beer from the Luxor brand brewed by Egybev, and a bottle of Sakara Gold

Islam is the majority religion in Egypt and while observant Muslims tend to avoid the consumption of alcohol it is readily available in the country. Beer is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the country by far, accounting for 54 percent of all alcohol consumption.[21]

A beer type known as bouza (Egyptian Arabic: بوظة‎‎), based on barley and bread,[22] has been consumed in Egypt since beer first made its appearance in the country, possibly as early as the Predynastic era.[23] Despite sharing names with boza, an alcoholic beverage consumed in Turkey and the Balkans, it is not the same beverage.

Egypt has a small but nascent wine industry. Egyptian wines have received some recognition in recent years, having won several international awards;[24] in 2013 Egypt produced 4,500 tonnes of wine, ranking 54th globally, ahead of Belgium and the United Kingdom.[25] Most wines are produced in the Gianaclis Vineyards near Alexandria.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Spices of the Egyptian Cuisine". Nile Valley Hotel. Retrieved 5 June 2017. 
  2. ^ John Metcalfe (2012-01-19). "Why Do Cow Brains Keep Getting Seized at the Cairo Airport?". CityLab. Retrieved 2016-01-08. 
  3. ^ "Meat | Egyptian Cuisine and Recipes". Egyptian-cuisine-recipes.com. Retrieved 2016-01-08. 
  4. ^ History of Cheese: gol27.
  5. ^ Lucas 2003, p. 383.
  6. ^ Kindstedt 2012, p. 34.
  7. ^ Kindstedt 2012, p. 35.
  8. ^ Lambert 2001, p. 20.
  9. ^ Robinson & Tamime 1991, p. 183.
  10. ^ El-Baradei, Delacroix-Buchet & Ogier 2007, p. 1248.
  11. ^ Robinson & Tamime 1991, p. 160.
  12. ^ a b African Cheese: Egypt.
  13. ^ Robinson & Tamime 1991, p. 190.
  14. ^ Fox, McSweeney & Cogan 2004, p. 240.
  15. ^ Fox, McSweeney & Cogan 2004, p. 20.
  16. ^ Fox, McSweeney & Cogan 2004, p. 11.
  17. ^ a b Wehr, Hans (1994) [1979]. J. Milton Cowan, ed. Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic. Urbana, Illinois: Spoken Language Services, Inc. ISBN 0-87950-003-4. 
  18. ^ Slackman, Michael (14 April 2008). "A City Where You Can’t Hear Yourself Scream". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 May 2008. 
  19. ^ "Calories in Feteer Meshaltet | Nutrition and Health Facts". Caloriecount.about.com. Retrieved 2016-01-08. 
  20. ^ "Tamarindus indica (tamarind) | Plants & Fungi At Kew". Kew.org. Retrieved 2016-01-08. 
  21. ^ Rios, Lorena. "Drinking Alcohol Is Always an Open Secret in Egypt". Munchies. Retrieved 13 December 2016. 
  22. ^ Jensen, Jon. "Poor of Cairo drown their sorrows in moonshine". jonjensen. Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  23. ^ Caballero, Benjamin; Finglas, Paul; Toldrá, Fidel. Encyclopedia of Food and Health. Academic Press. p. 348. 
  24. ^ Furer, David. "Egyptian wine on the way up – Hot climate viticulture is spreading". BKWineMagazine. Retrieved 12 November 2016. 
  25. ^ "Wine production (tons)". Food and Agriculture Organization. 6 October 2015. p. 1. Retrieved 12 October 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Balkwill, Richard. (1994). Food & feasts in ancient Egypt. New York: New Discovery Katie Syndrome.

External links[edit]