Egyptian cuisine is one of the few ancient cuisines that exist till date. It consists of various legumes and vegetables that are grown around the Nile valley and delta. Other than that, it makes use of onions, beans, dates, and mostly whatever can be grown in the more arid regions.
[box_dark] Origins [/box_dark]
Egyptian Cuisine’s origin dates back to the ancient Egyptian era, when pharaohs, pyramids and beliefs of supernatural forces existed and ruled over the common people (:P).
According to the archaeological excavations, pyramid workers were paid in bread, beer and onions and many consider that was the customary diet. Occasional desiccated loaves found in tombs confirm this, in addition to indicating that ancient Egyptian bread was made with flour from emmer wheat.
Though beer disappeared as a mainstay of Egyptian life following the Muslim conquest of Egypt in the year 641, onions remain the primary vegetable for flavouring and nutrition in Egyptian food. Beans were also a primary source of protein for the mass of the Egyptian populace, as they remain today.
Egyptian cuisine is usually favoured by the vegetarian diets, as it relies heavily on beans and vegetable dishes.
Meat is rarely consumed owing to desert like conditions and the hence created inability to nurture livestock. Therefore throughout history meat was very expensive and out of reach for the common people and thus a great deal of vegetarian dishes have developed to work around this economic reality.
But seafood on the other hand is largely consumed as there is a vast coastline on the Mediterranean Sea and the river waters of the Nile boasts a wide variety of fresh fish.
[box_dark] Bread [/box_dark]
Bread is 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. The local bread is a form of hearty, thick, glutenous pita bread called Eish Masri or Eish Balad.
In a culinary level, bread is most commonly used as an edible utensil besides providing the carbohydrate and much of the protein in 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.
[box_dark] Snacks and Entrées [/box_dark]
Egyptian cuisine is characterized by dishes such as Ful Medames, Koshari, rice-stuffed pigeon, ‘Molokheyya, and Fetir Meshaltet.
Egyptian cuisine also shares similarities with food of the Eastern Mediterranean region, such as rice-stuffed vegetables, grape leaves, Shawerma, Kebab, Falafel, Baba Ghannoug, and baklava.
Some consider Koshari - a mixture of rice, lentils, and macaroni – to be the national dish. In addition, Ful Medames (mashed fava beans) is one of the most popular dishes. Fava bean is also used in making falafel, which originated in Egypt and spread to other parts of the Middle East.
[box_dark] Religious Code [/box_dark]
Although Ramadan is a month of fasting for Muslims in Egypt, it is usually when Egyptians pay a lot of attention to food in 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 almost exclusive to Ramadan such as Kunāfah and Qatayef.
In this month, many Egyptians will make a special table for the poor or passers-by, usually in a tent in the street, called Ma’edet Rahman which translates literally as Table of the Gracious. These may be fairly simple or quite lavish, depending on the wealth and ostentation of the provider.
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