Top 10 Things to Eat in Egypt

Asako Maruoka's picture

Are you an epicurean—and hungry for All Things Egyptian? Me, too. I travel for food, and cook to explore the world. Besides an incredible culture, storied history, fascinating archaeology, and stunning landscape, Egypt boasts a delicious (and, obviously, historic) cuisine. Before you head to Egypt (we recommend egyptair), peruse these top ten things to enjoy whilst in Egypt…and perhaps cook some at home before you go, to get in the spirit.

Top 10 Things to Eat in Egypt

Note: Egyptian cuisine features many tasty spices! Be sure to stock up at your local market (or, even better, at shops and outdoor street markets while you’re in Egypt).

Egyptian spice market. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Egypt

Here are our Top 10 Things to Eat in Egypt:


Known as Egypt's national dish, koshary is a mixture of rice, chickpeas, and pasta. Tossed in a tomato sauce and served with a variety of condiments (including fried onions), koshary is filling AND delicious. Each Egyptian restaurant, food stall, and home has their own recipe and spin on this vegetarian standout. 

Koshary. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Egypt


Found in a variety of international cuisines, kofta is a seasoned, grilled meat kebab. Food52 has some good tips on making Egyptian kofta at home, including NOT buying lean meat, and adding 3 secret ingredients. I have a feeling that once you try this, you'll keep searching out the best food carts in Egypt to maintain your kofta habit.  

Kofta. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Egypt

Ta'ameya (Falafel)

We all know and love this vegetarian dish, but Egyptians put a spin on it, by using dried fava beans instead of chickpeas. It's a favorite street food, one that you'll seek out again and again. If you're making it at home, serve with pita bread, tomato, onions, and a tahini-based sauce. Fresh herbs are always welcome.

Falafel. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Egypt


This is Egypt's famous, delicious spice blend. Dukkah always includes toasted sesame seeds, toasted nuts, and spices (including cumin), but exact recipes differ by maker. Buy some at a street market in Egypt, or make your own. Here's a great recipe that also includes serving tips. It’s also worthwhile to search her site for more excellent Egyptian recipes. 

Umm Ali

This traditional sweet pastry dish, sort of an Egyptian bread pudding, is usually made from puff pastry, pistachios, raisins, sugar, coconut, cinnamon, and milk. With recipe roots that go back to the 12th century, this is obviously Egypt's national dessert! It can also be spelled Om Ali. 


Also known as ful medames, this is a warm, cozy stew made from dried fava beans and plenty of delectable spices. Ful medames is another national dish of Egypt, and has a fascinating history! It's a common breakfast dish, so be sure to order it when visiting.

Ful Medames. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Egypt


What is a trip to Egypt without trying Shawarma? Yes, you can find this all around the world (we LOVE tracing the diaspora of food), but it is also an ubiquitous street food throughout Egypt. Shawarma consists of layers of meat, roasted vertically on a spit and shaved off to order. Shawarma is most often served with pita, sauce, and vegetables, as a sandwich.

Shawarma. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Egypt


There are a slew of names, ingredients, and recipes for the fresh, pillowy flatbreads found throughout Egypt. Aish Baladi, Aish Merahrah, Eish Shamsi (sourdough!), Bataw bread...all of them are delicious pita-type flatbreads that can be used as a sandwich bread (shawarma, kofta, etc.), or to scoop up foods, such as hummus or falafel.

Flatbreads. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Egypt


This hibiscus juice or tea is a national drink! You can consume it hot or cold, and find it at street carts, markets, restaurants, and outdoor cafes in Egypt (especially in central Cairo). This historic beverage was popular with ancient pharaohs; the slightly sour drink has varying sweetness levels (you can always water it down if it is too sweet for your taste). 

Karkade. From Top 10 Things to Eat in Egypt

Fresh fruit and vegetables

I am astounded at the variety of fruits and vegetables offered at street markets around the world; Egypt is no exception. Be sure to buy fresh-squeezed fruit or sugarcane juices when you wander the market, or enjoy at breakfast or as an afternoon pick-me-up.

Let's wander, and dream… 


Have you been to Egypt? What are your favorite Egyptian foods and recipes?