04 Feb Egyptian Food|Food of the Pharaohs
When we all talk of Egypt we all talk of; the Pyramids, Sphinx, pharaohs, mummies, hieroglyphics and ancient temples, to name a few. But when it comes to Egyptian Food | Food for the Pharaohs, it’s not so well known. And I had no clue about their cuisine. However, now that I am enlightened, I can guide you about the delicious foods that are readily available in Egypt and are extremely tasty, to say the least! Like in India, food is an enormous part of Egyptian culture, where you can find different varieties of food all over Egypt, north to south, with every region adding its own unique twist to the recipe. Does that sound tantalising? Read on!
While shopping in the market, I saw vendors selling spices and condiments just like we do in India.
Love for Eating
People who love to eat are the best people and they can eat anywhere in the world. Right after my trip to Egypt, I realised that I am not really as fussy about food as I assumed. When eighteen ladies head out on a trip for almost 10 days together, food is going to be a topic to rant about. Each one of us was carrying sweet and savoury snacks which we kept munching on throughout the day and still we pounced on the table for the three main meals. My friends and I carried some pickles and spicy powder to satiate our spicy palates. There was a ginger chutney, gunpowder and my home grown Sorrel or Gongura Pickle.
Breakfast like a King
The manner in which you eat when you travel overseas could make your experience a more enjoyable one. How? Eat for strength and the culture around you when traveling. Follow the dictum of “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”
I ate a huge breakfast every morning. I stuffed myself, with bread, egg and fruit. Then I had a light lunch, like a little rice with a vegetable and yoghurt and then for dinner I usually gorged on the fruit and desserts. The strawberries were luscious, juicy and sweet, while the grapefruit was white as well as blood red
When traveling, there are abundant foods that one may come across, starting each morning at the hotel’s complimentary buffet breakfast. It is better to step out of your comfort zone and try out the exotic food piled on the trays. There is no point in starving as Food is like sex; when you abstain, even the worst stuff begins to look good!
The cuisine of contemporary Egypt preserves origins of many different influences it has been exposed to throughout the centuries. Egyptian cuisine is a flavour of Greek, Syrian, Turkish, Lebanese and Palestinian influences over thousands of years.
Don’t be surprised to find British and French cuisine readily available as that is how the colonists affected every country they reigned over.
When you vacation in Egypt, you are going to come face to face with an almost endless range of dining options. For the most part, this is a wonderful experience, but for us Indians, who are used to spicy food, the food was pretty bland. While shopping at a swanky mall, I sighted a vendor roasting corn on the cob and sweet potato; my favourite foods back home. I gave the mall a miss and indulged myself in the roasted corn and sweet potato with our guide Shery.
Tasty dishes you need to try in Egypt
Ta’meya and Ful mudammas, are basically fava beans and falafel; the original Egyptian fast-foods. A staple of their diet, the ta-meya, which is an Egyptian falafel, made out of crushed fava beans and is fried. Our whole group had platefuls as they were the only dish similar to Pessara Punugullu we fry in South India. Falafels are found all over but, Egypt is the actual origin of those delightful fried delicacies. A perfect dish for all of us vegetarians!
Fiteer Baladi is the Egyptian pizza which is marvellously buttery and pumped of calories, but oh so worth it! It is more like an Indian Paratha. Fiteer is made of filo pastry layers, cooked in a brick oven. It was our last meal in the streets of Khan-e Khalil market. It was savoury with loads of cheese and vegetables. Can you say no to Baladi?
Our buffet spread on the cruise had Shawarma, although shawarma is not native to Egypt. Shawarma is layers of meat placed on a spit and grilled, all day long. The outer layers are then shaved off and tucked into a chunk of bread or Aish Baladi; saw a young vendor selling it in the market.
Kofta Kebabs are prepared with pieces of meat balls that are grilled over a coal fire on skewers. They are always accompanied
For a relaxing meal by the Nile, head to the Grand Café. I learnt how to make a puffed Aish Baladi and captured it in my cam. We had a grand meal there and the view is enthralling.
Native Egyptian foods are quite popular these days. Common foods eaten by most Egyptians on a day-to-day basis include falafel, pita bread, tahini and hummus, which we relish. There were separate sections of salads, boiled vegetables and baskets of fruits. None had to go hungry. Actually, I realised that if we Indians, put pepper on a potato, we put a LOT of pepper and if we sprinkle salt, we sprinkle a LOT of salt. Egyptians use a lot of sesame seeds and their Baba Ganoush is actually bland.
Indian Restaurants inEgypt
We had two meals at Indian restaurants. The Taste of India cafe at Luxor and The Maharaja Restaurant in Cairo. The food there was average but yes it was Indian food. The Indian cafe actually belongs to an Englishman and alongwith Bollywood Posters on the wall there was this cute sculpture of Laurel and Hardy.
Handy Tips to Better Eating While Traveling Overseas
- Eat a hearty breakfast. If there is a time lapse, you will either over-eat or be too hungry throughout the day.
- At all times it is better to eat high protein and fatty meals in the morning. On condition
that that themeats are fresh and the fat is a good type of fat. This will make you feel fuller for an extended period which helps as you will be walking quite a lot.
- You aren’t going to feel very fresh after the long flights or daily travel. Hit the salad bars and the fruit as vegetables are
foodof the earth and fruits taste of the heavens to perk you up. Binge on plates of veggie sticks with hummus dip.
- Life is uncertain, eat the dessert first,
likewe south Indians do. You are on vacation and it is a special time.
- No time for exercise, it is perfectly fine as you will be trudging around the city and walking around the pyramids. But do give yourself a few minutes each morning for a few breathing
exercisingto clear your lungs. If you are on the cruise then walk around the deck.
- One good thing about our trip was that we were booked on a package with a four day Nile cruise included and our food was sorted. So I would advise you to go for a package tour with a local guide. Our problems were greatly reduced as we had a delightful personal guide; Shery. She was a genuine and warm person, a friend and a soul sister, who guided us to the right places.
- Drink lots of water, go easy on the coffee and sip on iced tea and let the bread and pastries pass. Carry bottled water with you at all times.
- Remember to stay away from fizzy sodas and chocolates, rather go for healthy drinks. Tea is a good option and coffee for those addicted to it.
- Pack healthy snacks as you’re eating schedule will be a little wonky. Packing snacks will help you keep your blood sugar levels so that you don’t go into a food coma if your next meal is late.
- Finally, eat with folks who share the same eating habits as you. This helps you make better eating choices.
Hope these tips give you that extra energy boost on your trip and keep you fit and active until you return home.