I’ve always liked Mediterranean cuisine in general: hummus, couscous, olives, grape leaves, etc. so I was very excited about trying real Egyptian cuisine. I heard about a dish called “Kushari” that is uniquely Egyptian, and got to try some at a popular chain called Zooba at City Stars mall.
I loved it! It is a mixture of rice, macaroni, lentils, onion, with a little red sauce. You can add hot sauce to make it spicy, and/or a dressing made of lemon, vinegar, and garlic. Topped with crispy fired onions. I would totally eat this at home. I also tried a dip made with Egyptian aged cheese and tahina, which was really really strong. It tasted like a highly concentrated and very salty feta cheese. I liked it, but could only eat a few bites with bread. There are also many varieties of pickled veggies, which I loved.
After I told some of my new local friends that I tried Kushari, they told me that I should try another uniquely Egyptian dish called Molokhaya. I got to do that last night, when one of my colleagues invited me to her home for dinner.
|This first thing you see as you walk in – chickens turning on a rotisserie|
|Women bake bread in outdoor ovens near the entrance|
|Guests are seated on an outdoor patio; there is a childrens’ play area adjacent|
Other wonderful things that I’ve had here: Olives, dates, and melon – are all locally grown, fresh, and delicious. The melon is particularly sweet. Fatir – a rich, flaky pastry, and Ful – similar to refried beans – are eaten for breakfast. Fresh juice drinks, such as Lemon Mint – my new favorite. It’s not nearly as sweet as lemonade. Bread and baked goods here are very good.
I had an awesome and decadent (expensive) meal at a Lebanese restaurant Al Dabke in the Fairmont hotel.
|Mezzeh and Mixed Grill|
You can find many other types of cuisine here. I had really good sushi the other day at Mori in Mall of Arabia.
Nescafe is a thing here. If they don’t have Nescafe, then it’s Coffee Mix. The fancier coffee places might serve “American coffee” which is filtered coffee as we know it, or from a French press. What we might call Egyptian coffee – the strong espresso-like brew with a bit of sludge on the bottom – is what they call Turkish coffee. And, it’s excellent. Tea with fresh mint is also very good. Fresh squeezed juices are very popular, and I love the lemon mint – it’s not as sweet as lemonade and very delicious.
This is a Muslim country, but drinking is not banned. There are many non-muslims living here. I am not finding a great beer selection, but I’m not really looking for it, either. I could probably find an ex-pat bar with a better selection, but I’m playing it safe and staying in my hotel where the choices are:
Or, Heineken. Both Stella and Sakara are Egyptian-made beers. Both are lagers. They aren’t bad, but they are not very remarkable, either.
I had better luck with wines. The popular Egyptian wines are: Kouroum of the Nile – Shahrazade (was my favorite), Omar Khayyam, and Grand Marquis.