10 Most Popular Cairo Foods You Should Never Miss

Cairo is not only well known for its historical monuments, but it also has a historically rich food culture. The traditional glory of art transcended from the flair of living in style and effortlessly seeped into their food habits and its elaborate style of preparation. Let me take you through some of the most popular Cairo foods you should never miss. Cairo food will keep your appetite stimulated and make your trip a complete success.

1. Koshary

A dish that conjures the best taste of rice, macaroni and lentil. Garnished with chickpeas, special Egyptian tomatoes along with onion and a dash of vinegar. An ideal dish for lunch or dinner, it is called the poor man’s meal. The ingredients are easily available. This is an inexpensive meal. Al Tahrir is known for its Koshary, which is arguably the best in the city. Many shops across Cairo prepare this dish.

· Walk three minutes from the Egyptian Museum or 6-minute from Sadat metro station.
· Price: 3.50 to 9 LE

2. Ful Mudamas

It would be a shame if you travel to Egypt and don't try Ful. Prepared from fava beans, rich spices, a dash of salt and pepper, olive oil and garnished with traditional herbs of the region makes this an ideal breakfast meal. You can combine it with loaves or pita or any kind of French bread. If in a hurry, this makes a delectable sandwich filling. They say that Ful can beat hummus hands down. Try the best made Ful at Gad in Cairo.

· 125 Azhar St., Cairo 11511 Egypt; 2.7 km (1.7 mi) from The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities
· Time: 09:00AM - 02:00AM

3. Hamam Mahshi

This dish is a delicacy among North Africans. A grilled preparation where a pigeon is stuffed with cracked wheat, this is essentially a local dish. If you are thinking about whether to try out this dish or not, then your deliberation will lead to an unsatiated appetite. Don’t deprive yourself of this phenomenal African treat. Farahat grills the best Hamam Mahshi.

· 126 El Azhar St., Cairo 11511 Egypt; In the alley off Sharia Al Azhar
· Time: 12:05 PM – 04:00 AM
· Price: pigeons LE55-60

4. Mahshi

This dish is common to many Mediterranean countries, but Egypt serves its own version. In Cairo, Mahshi translates to anything that is stuffed and this dish involves grape leaves stuffed with spiced rice and cooked in a richly flavored tomato and lemon gravy. Stuffed food is extremely popular in this region and often done with cabbage in local korumb, eggplant also called bidingan, and zucchini or kossa. Om Dahab has made a name in preparing the best Mahshi.  

· Opposite the corner of Mahmoud Basyouni St. and Hussein El Me'mar Pasha St.; It is very close to the Cairo Central (a walk for 7 minutes); Run by mother and daughter duo.
· Time: 4:00PM -10:30PM
· Price: 8LE for a large plate

5. Molokhia

Combined with the best aroma and spice, this is a thickly made green stew from either chicken or beef. You could find pieces of rabbit meat steeping in flavors adding to the creamy texture. Try it with rice if you find the consistency a bit slimy. It is best served at Abou el Sid.

· El Zamlek Club, Mohandesin - Jazerat El Arab and Mohandesin - Lebanon Square.
· Time: 01:00 PM-01:00AM
· Price: 58 LE

6. Hawawshy

A uniquely prepared crispy sandwich made of minced lamb in a wooden oven. The texture of the bread and the filling is just out of the world and you cannot group it in the conventional sandwich category. People who have had it, know what I am talking about. Served most splendidly with pickled vegetables, El Hawashy el Asly undoubtedly grabs all the laurels for this dish.

· Location: 63 El Hegaz St., El Mahkama Square
· Price: LE 63
· Time: 05:00 PM - 02:00 AM

7. Aish Baladi

A staple food, in fact, a kind of bread, prepared from wheat and barley. This fresh bread is sold all over the country and is a good accompaniment for any kind of food. Egyptians like to have it warm and it's much loved by the locals. Agalati – the bread carriers, deliver this bread to houses and restaurants. Sold open combined with the dust and dirt, this bread still attracts city people, and nothing stops them from purchasing it.

8. Fatteh

This is a festival favorite and an absolute must during special occasions. Fresh toasted flatbread is layered with lamb and chicken along with onion, rice, garlic, tomato sauce, yoghurt, and local spices. Also, for an extra touch, sometimes eggplant or aubergine is added to it. It is garnished further with pine nuts that give it a crispy nacho like look with a riot of colors. The only difference being the tortilla chips are replaced by pita wedges. Many restaurants serve this dish. If you make a local friend, then this is one dish that you try in their homes.

9. Torshi

Known for their pickled veggies, these are sold in Cairo in small pickle bags and can be carried back home. Guess what they are made of? Cucumber and practically any vegetable, cauliflower, carrots, and peppers, you name it.  Most restaurants serve it liberally. Just give it a try. I can promise you will love the tangy taste. Your mouth salivates with the combined and most inviting flavors.

Egyptian Desserts

The four best and favorite desserts that are easily available all over Cairo are basboosa, bakalava, Knafa and Um Ali. Many would be familiar with these names. If you have tasted them, you will be tempted for more and if you haven’t, then don't wait. It can be found in all supermarkets and sweet shops in Cairo. Try some and then buy some more. Basboosa is a light crumbled cake with a sharbat topping. Bakalava is a delicious mix of crushed nuts that is layered with filo dough dipped in divine sweet sharbat syrup.

While in Egypt don’t deprive yourself of the regular Shawarma, Falafel, Kebabs and Koftas. I did not specially mention these as now they are commonly found all over the world. But I would still recommend the Cairo way. There is something distinctly Egyptian that I am sure you would like to taste. Kazaz, Tendy Falafel and Shaker are some places that can be reserved on your food tour. Bon Appetite! Drink lots of water and combine each meal with some yoghurt for super digestion. See also Special Drinks in Egypt


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