Egypt is probably on the bucket list of many travelers. Besides the ancient history, stunning beaches, and scuba diving, traditional Egyptian food is another reason you should visit this country.

All the ancient history makes Egypt’s cuisine what it is today, with each civilization leaving a mark on the preparation of dishes. Like in most Middle Eastern countries, a big part of Egyptian culture is gathering and celebrating with family and friends – around delicious food, of course!

Here are some top traditional Egyptian food favorites that every visitor should try at least once when coming to this beautiful country, from breakfast to dessert.

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13 Traditional Egyptian Food Favorites:

1. Ful Medammes

13 Traditional Egyptian Food Favorites Every Visitor Has To Try

Ful is the most common traditional breakfast, it’s a staple in every Egyptians’ diet. Ful, pronounced as fool, is made of fava beans cooked with oil and salt. Fava beans (broad beans) are encased in long fat green pods.

They require soaking overnight and cooking for hours over low heat in an “idra” in order to remove the beans casing. Traditionally this is how they are cooked and served by street carts in Cairo and around the country – the most popular Egyptian food there is.

Since the fava beans require long preparation, a pre-made version in cans is being sold in local markets and grocery stores. The beans can then be prepared on the stove or even in the microwave. Ful is commonly eaten as a dish with eggs, cheese, pita bread and/or also popular food like ta’meya.

It can also just be an easy, quick breakfast made into a sandwich. The beans are packed with essential nutrients such as carbohydrates and iron and they’re low in saturated fats.

Ful can be very hard to find outside of Egypt, but you can get it online here or here.

2. Falafel, also known as Ta’meya

Egyptian Falafel - Tameya

Falafel are traditionally served in Egyptian breakfast along with ful, eggs, cheese and pita bread. Traditional falafel are made with chickpeas, but Egyptians ta’meya is made of fava beans.

Fava beans should be soaked overnight to soften, then crushed in a food processor. They are then mixed with a fresh combination of chopped cilantro, parsley, white onion, garlic and leek, giving ta’meya its vibrant green color.

Spices such as cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper are added along with chickpea flour. Rolled into balls, and fried! It’s not a surprise why Ta’meya is such a popular Egyptian food – it’s packed with loads of unique, fresh flavor.

3. Koshari

Egyptian Food - Koshary
By Dina Said – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36970215

Koshary or koshari is one of the most traditional Egyptian foods. It is popularly found on the streets of Egypt served from carts and restaurants and it’s a cheap and filling meal – a total carb bomb!

A layering of rice, macaroni, lentils, and chickpeas topped off with caramelized onions, thick red sauce, and a garlic/chili/vinegar/ sauce. Here’s everything you need to know about Koshari (Recipe, History, etc.).

It is indeed an interesting mix, but surprisingly delicious! If you’re in Cairo, you can go on an authentic Egyptian food tour here.

4. Mahshi

13 Traditional Egyptian Food Favorites Every Visitor Has To Try

Mahshi is a favorite hit amongst Egyptians and great for vegetarian travelers. Mahshi is basically vegetables of choice stuffed with a rice filling, such as zucchini, eggplants, bell peppers, tomatoes, cabbage leaves, or grapevine leaves (similar to Greek dolma).

The filling consists of rice, herbs (parsley, cilantro, and dill), tomato sauce with seasoning and a touch of cinnamon. Some people like to add minced meat to the filling for a generous meal. Mahshi is definitely a dish you have to try when in Egypt. You will fall in love, it’s one of my favorites!

5. Shawarma

13 Traditional Egyptian Food Favorites Every Visitor Has To Try

Shawarma is such a popular street food that you’ve probably tried it before. Originally it comes from the famous Greek gyros, but of course, the Egyptians put their twist on it. Shawarma is made up of a choice of either chicken or beef marinated with Middle Eastern spices and cooks all day on the spit with a fat melting on top.

The meat is shaved off and put into a wrap where it’s wrapped to perfection. Typically, as Egyptian food, it is served with tahini and the chicken served with tomaya (garlic sauce). It’s a quick meal but a healthier alternative to fast food and it won’t put a dent in your pocket.

6. Macaroni Béchamel

13 Traditional Egyptian Food Favorites Every Visitor Has To Try

Macaroni Béchamel is a classic Egyptian comfort food that will leave you satisfied for a while! Basically, it’s Egypt’s version of lasagna or macaroni and cheese.

Made with rigatoni noodles, minced meat cooked in chopped onion and tomato paste, topped with the classic béchamel sauce. It’s hard to not go for seconds!

7. Molokhia

13 Traditional Egyptian Food Favorites Every Visitor Has To Try

Molokhia is a very traditional Egyptian dish, and you either hate it or love it (unfortunately, although I’m vegetarian, I belong to the first group). It’s a stew made up of a leafy green, cut into tiny pieces and prepared in chicken, beef or seafood broth mixed with ground coriander and fried garlic.

Generally served with rice, bread, and choice of chicken, beef or seafood. The way this dish is made depends on the region in Egypt. Cities along the coast like Alexandria might eat molokhia with shrimp or fish.

Molokhia is named after the leafy green that the stew consists of, also known as jute mallow (corchorus olitorius). It’s packed with essential vitamins such as iron and potassium, Vitamin C, & Vitamin B6 and therefor a great, healthy Egyptian food.

You can buy it on Amazon here if you want to make it at home! 

8. Fattah

13 Traditional Egyptian Food Favorites Every Visitor Has To Try

Fattah goes all the way back to ancient Egypt where it was served in big feasts, celebrations such as weddings and the birth of a new baby. Still today fattah is a main dish in the first day of the Islamic feast (Eid-al-adha). It is a combination of crispy bread, rice, meat and vinegar/tomato sauce.

For special occasions, the meat used is lamb but on any other ordinary day beef is used. It’s also commonly seen eaten the Lebanese way with rotisserie chicken and tomaya. Although it’s a simple dish it is satisfying and you won’t be disappointed.

9. Feseekh

13 Traditional Egyptian Food Favorites Every Visitor Has To Try

Feseekh is a hit or miss with even the Egyptian people! It is fermented mullet fish, prepared by letting the fish dry in the sun and then soaked in salty water for up to a month. It is famously eaten in the Spring celebration known as Sham El Nessim. Feseekh is the main dish, eaten and served with fresh cut salad and pita bread.

If you are brave enough to try it, maybe you will like it. One thing is for sure – this dish will take you back to the history of Egyptian food.

10. Roz Bel Laban

13 Traditional Egyptian Food Favorites Every Visitor Has To Try

Roz Bel Laban translates to rice with milk – it’s Egypt’s version of rice pudding. If you’re a fan of rice pudding, you will love it. Rice cooked in milk, sometimes cream (ishta), with sugar typically topped with pistachio pieces. A simple and satisfying dessert that everyone loves!

11. Umm Ali

Desserts in Egyptian - Umm Ali

Umm Ali (Om Ali), is translated to Ali’s Mother. A dish that goes back to the 13th century, legend has it that Sultan Ezz El Din Aybak’s wife made it for a victory celebration where it was made and shared amongst people of the land. Since then it became famously known after her.

A hearty dessert combined with sweet flavors of bread (puff pastry), milk and sugar –Egypt’s version of bread pudding. It’s commonly topped with a mix of raisins, nuts, and coconut pieces. And served while hot. It is no surprise why it’s a hit, it is delicious!  

12. Konafa

13 Traditional Egyptian Food Favorites Every Visitor Has To Try

The queen of Egyptian sweets, made of shredded konafa pieces, filled with cream or cheese, baked and eaten with syrup. You will find konafa eaten during gatherings while celebrating the holy month of Ramadan.

There are many variations that are all equally satisfying. It is also very common to find Syrian konafa on the streets of Egypt and it is to die for! Konafa will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth and win your heart in the world of sweet traditional Egyptian food.

13. Sahlab

Egyptian Dessert - Sahleb

Egypt’s sweet warm drink and my personal favorite – A luscious treat that’ll warm you right up! Its base is hot milk mixed with pure orchid root powder which is what gives it it’s flavourful taste and thickness. Sahlab can be conveniently made with instant sachets that already contain this powder and other ingredients like vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon.

You can have some fun with it and add the toppings that you like, me personally I love it with banana and strawberries. Traditionally, Sahlab is topped with a pinch of cinnamon, shredded coconut, crushed pistachio and maybe even some raisins. For me, it’s the best Egyptian dessert there is and my go-to treat.


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59 COMMENTS

  1. I tried a few from the list, my favorite must be Koshary now! It is just amazing how well flavoured Egyptian food is. I am going to try cooking some at home. Thank you for the post, makes me drool though

  2. An interesting list, I’ve lived in the Middle East, Greece and am currently in Istanbul all the foods of the area have so much in common and yet are slightly different, Koshary is proper comfort food but my favourite is Falafel I had no idea the Egyptians made theirs with a different bean.

  3. Oh my gosh, those food look so delicious! I had an Egyptian friend who would bring in stuffed grape leaves to share. It was so good, I can’t believe I didn’t ask for the recipe!

  4. True, there’s a lot of similarities, but all countries/cultures put a little twist on their versions 😉

  5. These all look so tasty!

    I am embarrassed to say that I haven’t ever seen more than half of these! I have sooo many new things to try! Koshary and Mahshi look particularly yummy! I LOVE travelling to try new food, so this makes me even more keen to visit Egypt!! (Om nom nom…)

  6. I don’t think I’ve ever tried Egyptian food! I have tried Moroccan food though and loved it so if Egyptian food is anything close, count me in!

  7. I’m drooling here! These all look so delicious! I’ve only tried a few of these before, but the mararoni bechamel must be amazing. Gorgeous photos! I need to find an Egyptian restaurant ASAP 😉

  8. All of this food looks delicious. The Ful looks like such a healthy breakfast compared to our pancakes and bacon which really doesn’t have a whole lot of nutrients.

  9. Falafel, sharma oh my mouth is watering. And I’ve just eaten 😁 I haven’t been to Egypt yet or even an Egyptian restaurant but have tried these foods in Turkey and would be interesting to see if it tastes different in Egypt.

  10. I need to find an egyptian restaurant in Chicago! This post makes all the food in Egypt sound so delicious! Did you run into any stomach issues when you were there?

  11. It’s soo hard to find Egyptian restaurants anywhere 🙁 I’ve been based in Egypt for the last 1.5 years and never really had any issues, luckily 🙂

  12. I’ve never had Egyptian cuisine but I’m totally drooling in front of my laptop right now. Koshary definietely sounds like something I’d love to try. Guess I’m just a sucker for carbs hahaa. The Sahlab looks and sounds delicious too! Perfect for beating the chilly winter nights I bet!

  13. Who doesn’t like carbs?? 😀 Sahlab is my absolute favorite, I usually bring some home whenever I leave Egypt 😉

  14. oh my gosh, I’m DROOLING! I’ve always wanted to go to Egypt but never thought the food would be a reason. Also I’m surprised I’ve tried a few of these but never knew they were Egyptian… like macaroni bechamel… what?! Awesome post 🙂

  15. I haven’t tried any of these, but they all look interesting! The only one I’ve really heard of is Schwarma because of the ending of the Avengers movie!

  16. I love falafel but never had it made from lava beans, at least I don’t think so! Seems fave beans are a popular bean in Egyptian dishes!

  17. […] Last but not least, for most people food plays a big role in really experiencing a new country. Meat lovers and vegetarians alike will surely enjoy the local cuisine, at least if they’re into fried or sweet dishes. It’s not a great cuisine for weight loss, but you’re only here once, right? Unless you fall in love with the country and end up never leaving like I did 😉 Anyways, here are the most important traditional Egyptian dishes everyone should try! […]

  18. […] Last but not least, for most people food plays a big role in really experiencing a new country. Meat lovers and vegetarians alike will surely enjoy the local cuisine, at least if they’re into fried or sweet dishes. It’s not a great cuisine for weight loss, but you’re only here once, right? Unless you fall in love with the country and end up never leaving like I did 😉 Anyways, here are the most important traditional Egyptian dishes everyone should try! […]

  19. Do hotels in Egypt serve western breakfasts? I love to try new fods but like a normal brezkfast tl start the day. I also have medical issues and need to count carbs, not diet, but just need to calculate number of carbs in everything consumedwhich is sometimes difficult when overseasjudt a grnera. Question to help me plan?

  20. Thank you for this list. I was able to pick the gluten free items….so helpful. I’m going in Feb and looking forward to it.

  21. Yeah, the middle- and higher class hotels definitely serve western breakfast. Mostly they have buffets. You should find bread or fruits as well… But of course you can confirm before you book one, they mostly show the breakfast on sites like booking.com

  22. I have been in Egypt and tried all of these plates ,thanks to Lonely Planet.
    I found the food is very delicious & Yummy &cheap .Comparing to Canada ,you can have a full breakfast with all what have been mentioned above for breakfast by 2/3 $ only .
    I enjoyed every single dish either I had it in five start restaurant or local place in down town or Alexandria in Al Ramel Station where I was in Feb,2019

    You have to travel to this spot on earth to enjoy not only history but culture and people

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