Top 21 Best Egyptian Foods: Most Popular Dishes

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Egyptian foods will introduce you to some of the most elevated dishes in Africa. The cuisines are mostly bread and vegetables with a good selection of hearty meats and desserts.

And like most regions, it borrows a few recipes from different regions, including the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

Top Popular and Traditional Egyptian Food you Must Try
Credit: @egyptegypt321

Staples like the ful medames introduce you to the typical vegetarian breakfast in Egypt, while the hamam mahshi shows you the exotic side of Egyptian cuisines, a taste of something you won’t normally find elsewhere.

Read on to take a look at the brief history of traditional Egyptian foods and how the popular foods came to be mainstream. Indulge yourself in the sumptuous tastes of the land of the Pharaohs.

History Behind Egyptian Food: Egyptian Food Culture

Ancient Egyptian foods relied heavily on bread, vegetables, and the nutritious version of beer. Beer was taken daily (still the most popular alcoholic drink) and was one of the most nutritious foods with lots of proteins and vitamins.

The Nile Valley and Delta have contributed a lot to the rise of popular Egyptian foods since most ingredients came from these two regions. Vegetables and legumes constitute most of the diet leading to recipes like the ful medames (bean stew). Rice-stuffed vegetables top the list with other popular options, from hummus to falafel and fava beans.

Bread and other baked goods make up a big part of traditional Egyptian cuisine. Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners have bread and pastries in one form or the other. A popular and traditional example is the fateer meshaltet. This layered Egyptian pastry dates back to the age of the Pharaohs when it was offered as an offering to the gods.

Desserts are similar to most Mediterranean & Middle Eastern desserts. Traditional Egyptian desserts include the phyllo pastry layered baqlawa and the syrup-soaked basbousa cake.

Like most African regions, meats did not make up a huge chunk of the common meals – due to scarcity and expenses. Meats were preserved for special occasions and mostly taken during celebrations and other rare occasions.

Today, Egyptian foods have the most innovative meat recipes in the region, starting with the exotic hamam mahshi. This is a baked or deep-fried stuffed pigeon dish known for its high fat and carb content. Stuffing range from rice to onions, nuts, and giblets.

Seafood is also in plenty but mostly served in the coastal regions. For a meatier dish in the interiors, expect to have varieties of fish, kebab & kofta, as well as shawarma.

So, what is traditional Egyptian food? Since most cuisines worldwide borrow from other international recipes, it can be hard to distinguish traditional Egyptian dishes from fusion foods.

To keep your Egyptian meals more authentically traditional, start off with classic recipes of hamam mahshi, basbousa, baqlawa, kunafa, Qatayef, kofta kebab, makarona Beshamel, falafel, ful medames, eggah, molokhia, om Ali, hummus, and fateer meshaltet. Take a look at our long list below for today’s popular Egyptian foods.

Popular Egyptian Food

1. Ful Medames

Ful Medames
Credit: @jolieanna85
  • Type: Vegetarian/legume

Ful medames are what most people refer to as Egyptian fava beans. The only difference from fava beans is that ful medames are stewed in tahini and usually seasoned using lemon, garlic and cumin seeds. The dish is made in various ways depending on the accompaniments, but it is commonly served in mashed form or as a whole.

Ful medames is a popular vegetarian breakfast that can also be served as a lunch or dinner accompaniment alongside pita bread, French fries, or the falafel, another popular Egyptian delicacy.

2. Egyptian Falafel (ta’ameya)

Egyptian Falafel (ta’ameya)
Credit: @dopeearth.foods
  • Type: Vegetarian

Egyptian Falafel is among the top traditional Egyptian foods known for its vegetarian diet and close comparison to other regional dishes like ful medames and koshari. Many refer to it as Egyptian national food, and you will not miss it along the streets of Cairo any day of the week.

Ta’ameya, as the Egyptians call it, is a ball or disc-shaped dish made from deep-fried dried fava beans rolled in a coating of sesame seeds. Commonly used seasonings include garlic, cilantro, parsley, coriander, cumin, and red onions.

3. Aish baladi

Aish baladi
Credit: @dumplingsandmore
  • Type: Bread

Aish baladi is a traditional Egyptian bread comparable to Middle Eastern pita bread. Its roots date back to ancient Egypt, almost 5000 years ago when it was made from emmer wheat.

Today, aish baladi is made of 100% whole wheat flour and baked in extreme heating conditions to produce a delectable flatbread.

Also referred to as eish baladi, the term translates to ‘life’ and ‘traditional’, which goes to show its cultural significance in Egyptian diets. It is a dish you won’t miss on any Egyptian meal or restaurant in the world.

4. Koshari/kushari

Koshari kushari
Credit: @lebanese_delicious_dishes
  • Type: Vegetarian

Koshari is another classic Egyptian staple you won’t miss in any Egyptian restaurant. The simple dish is easy to prepare and only consists of a blend of rice, Macaroni noodles, and lentils. Seasonings vary with the recipe but usually involve a spicy tomato sauce. It is indeed an unusual combination, but you will be surprised at how tasty it is.

Koshari Man – a street vendor who serves koshari, is popular among tourists who are looking for street foods along Cairo. Despite its popularity, it is important to note that koshari isn’t a traditional Egyptian dish.

Rice and lentils aren’t traditional Egyptian ingredients but came from India, whereas the Macaroni was brought in by the British during the Colonization Period in the late 1800s. Koshari became popular during this period and grew to become a main dish in many households.

5. Baba Ghanoush

Baba Ghanoush
Credit: @arabesqueplus
  • Type: Vegetarian dip/Vegan

Baba Ghanoush is the Egyptian version of hummus that is taken as an accompaniment, appetizer, or dip. It is a popular vegan dish made of pre-cooked mashed eggplant with tahini. Seasonings and additions include garlic, lemon, and other spices.

It is said that most regions which hosted the Ottoman Empire, including Egypt, have a form of the dish, which explains why it is a popular dish in the Middle Eastern regions.

Popular versions of the hummus use crushed chickpeas instead of eggplant, which makes Baba Ghanoush a distinctively Egyptian cuisine.

6. Eggah

Credit: @the_vedgetable
  • Type: Vegetarian frittata/ meat

Eggah is the Egyptian version of the classic frittata that is cooked slowly over low heat in an oven. Also called ej’jah, the dish is an egg bidder that is filled with several stuffing from vegetarian options like eggplants, onions, spinach, leeks, & zucchini to meaty items like bacon. Seasons range from cumin to herbs and cinnamon.

Eggah is a versatile dish served mainly for breakfast but can be an accompaniment with lunch or dinner dishes like aish baladi.

7. Mahshi

Credit: @melizcooks
  • Type: Vegetarian

When looking for an Egyptian vegetarian classic, opt for the mahshi which is an enticing and creative rice-stuffed veggie dish. It is a popular meal you won’t miss in any Egyptian banquet and celebration, as well as on the streets of Cairo.

It is a staple in Egypt and other Middle East regions that have koshari. The recipe is simple but requires some handling skills to prepare the binder and stuff it with rice and other herbs. Mahshi is a seasonal dish since the vegetable binders vary seasonally but mostly include baked eggplants, cabbage, zucchini, and peppers.

As much as most mahshi dishes are vegetarian, there are some variations where you can opt for meat stuffing, like ground beef.

8. Hawawshi

Credit: @gastronomybyjonathan
  • Type: Meat

Depending on how you cook it, hawashi can be a meat pie or a meat sandwich that serves as a snack or home-cooked comfort food. For the pie version, the meat and bread combo are mixed together and then baked in a wooden oven in a similar way you would make pizza.

For a sandwich, minced meat is stuffed into a type of bread, usually pita bread, to make a meat sandwich seasoned with spicy ingredients like pepper. The dish is another versatile Egyptian meal that is mainly taken during lunch and dinner but can also serve as a breakfast dish.

9. Feteer meshaltet

Feteer meshaltet
Credit: @squajoy
  • Type: Pastry

Fateer meshaltet is one of the few Egyptian dishes that are exclusive to the region and known worldwide for the country of origin. The dish is treated as a symbol of hospitality and gifts to visitors. In fact, former American President Barack Obama was served fateer meshaltet on his 2009 visit to Egypt as a sign of welcome and service.

Fateer is flaky and made of several thin layers of dough mixed with ghee. Fillings are also included and can vary widely depending on the recipe; some include sweet coconut, chocolate, ground beef, and sausages.

10. Molokhia/Mulukhiyah/Molokhiya

Molokhia Mulukhiyah Molokhiya
  • Type: Vegetarian/Meat

Mulukhiyah is one of the first dishes that young kids between 13-14 months get introduced to in Egypt. It is a great meal to get the kids to eat their vegetables, from peas to carrots, beans, and broccoli. Many like it because it blends well with side dishes like rice, making it a highly versatile Egyptian staple.

Molokhia gets its name from the plant from which it is made, the molokhiya green leaves. The leaves come from the Corchorus shrub plant that many refer to as jute. If you are thinking of jute soup popular in Haiti and the Philippines, then you will be glad to know molokhia is the Egyptian version.

The dish can either be vegetarian with just boiled jute leaves or be turned into a meat dish where the chicken broth is added to the mix. Seasonings include the usual staples from garlic to coriander.

11. Basbousa

Credit: @mix_of_flavours_
  • Type: Dessert

Basbousa is another dish popular in regions that hosted the Ottoman people. Countries that have a similar variation of the dish include most parts of North Africa, portions of the Middle East, Turkey, Greece, and Libya.

Basbousa is a dessert cake made from a blend of coconut with semolina and yoghurt. The sweet, simple syrup adds an enticing flavour, and toppings are added from a selection of almonds or other nuts.  

12. Kebab and Kofta (Kofta Kebab)

Kebab and Kofta (Kofta Kebab)
Credit: @anna_marciniak_foodist
  • Type: Meat

Neither kebab nor kofta is a traditional food in Egypt. However, they are popular in Egyptian restaurants worldwide with several variations that utilize the main premise: seasoned ground meat in the form of meatballs or loaves served on a stick.

In the classic case, kofta kebabs are made by mixing the ground meat with spices and then skewing it or grilling it under a hit flame. The savoury dish is served as a form of street food or comfort food alongside a salad or dip.

13. Om Ali/Umm Ali

Om Ali Umm Ali
Credit: @cookwithlocals
  • Type: Dessert/Pudding

Did you know that the Egyptian version of the bread pudding was named after a 13th Century Egyptian Sultan’s wife? Well, that is Om Ali for you, which directly translates to ‘Mother of Ali’. It is said that the Sultan’s first wife tasked her cooks to make the tastiest dessert in celebration of the death of the Sultan’s other wife.  

The intriguing story and its delicious taste made the dessert a popular dish in the country. Egyptians later named it Om Ali, after the Sultan’s first wife, who was interestingly called Om Ali too.

Om Ali comprises a bead soaked with a mixture of sugar plus milk. Blends range from raisings to coconut flakes, whereas cinnamon is a typical ingredient sprinkled on top before baking the pastry. 

14. Katayef/ Qatayef

Katayef Qatayef
Credit: @lebanese_delicious_dishes
  • Type: Dessert

Qatayef is a type of folded pancake stuffed with nuts. It is not only famous in Egypt but in most regions of the Middle East as well. You will often find it everywhere during major celebrations like Ramadan. Even though Katayef is the only exclusively Egyptian pancake, you will not find it eaten daily in most households.

The pancake is made in a regular fashion or by cooking it on one side. After heating it in a skillet, the finished pancake gets stuffed with different ingredients, particularly nuts like almonds and hazelnuts.

15. Makarona Beshamel

Makarona Beshamel-0
Credit: @recetagatimi.ks
  • Type: Meat

Makarona Beshamel is not a traditional Egyptian food but was brought into the country less than 100 years ago during the Greek and Italian immigration. The popular unorthodox dish is baked macaroni with ground meat topped with bechamel sauce – macaroni with bechamel (Makarona Beshamel). You won’t miss the meaty dish at many Egyptian functions or holidays.

16. Egyptian Fatteh

Egyptian Fatteh
Credit: @shereenagy
  • Type: Meat

The Egyptian fatteh borrows a lot of elements from its other sister dishes from the Middle East. The dish is a festive plate comprising bread & rice mixed with meats from lamb to beef and toppings like spicy herbs, legumes like beans, and seasonings like garlic.

17. Shawarma

Credit: @foodloverdilruba
  • Type: Meat

Shawarma is popular in many Middle Eastern and African countries, not to mention major cities worldwide. It is a popular Greek dish known for its meat stuffing rolled in a thin pita bread binder.

It is a famous Egyptian street food that uses a wide range of grilled meats, particularly chicken, beef, and lamb. Toppings also vary, popular ones being classic vegetables, onions, peppers, tahini, and fries.

18. Hamam Mahshi

Hamam Mahshi
Credit: @dumplingsandmore
  • Type: Meat

You may be thinking of the mahshi – rice stuffed veggie we discussed earlier. Well, the hamam mahshi is the meaty version of the vegetarian dish, but in this case, we utilize pigeon meat stuffed with veggies.

Yes, it is quite unusual. Most people across the world consider pigeon meat a far-fetched source of protein, but it is quite popular in Egypt. The traditional dish is a roasted pigeon (usually about 6 weeks + old) stuffed with different types of vegetables and legumes, including rice, onions, nuts, and giblets.

19. Kunafa

Credit: @food_paradaise
  • Type: Dessert

Kunafa is a traditional Middle Eastern dessert, also known as konafa, or kunefe, depending on where you are. It is a popular dessert in Egypt and is considered by many as the favourite dessert due to its texture and sweet syrup infusion.

The dish is made by mixing layers of phyllo pastry with milk cheese and infusing the entire combination with sweet syrup. The final baked product is gorgeous to look at and tasty to bite into with its slimy texture and stuffed tops.

20. Baklava/Baqlawa

Baklava Baqlawa
Credit: @minasyanknarik
  • Type: Dessert

The popular Egyptian dessert originated from the Ottoman Empire and consisted of several layers of phyllo pastry dessert topped with nuts and infused with sweet, simple syrup. It differentiates itself from the similar kunafa with its crisp and flaky texture.

Also, kunafa is baked as a single piece or a pizza-like dessert sliced into pieces, baklava, on the other hand, is baked in rectangular blocks.

21. Roz Bel Laban

Roz Bel Laban
Credit: @donasalah300
  • Type: Dessert/Pudding

Have you ever wanted to have a rice pudding-based dessert? Well, that is what Roz Bel Laban/Ros Bil Laban offers you. The classic dessert uses simple ingredients to create a creative dish that is comforting and quick to make.

Short-grain rice is mixed with a blend of milk, butter, and flavour-infused water. Toppings include classic chopped nuts like almonds. Roz Bel Laban is a simple breakfast dish commonly paired with a hot beverage like tea or milk.



As much as vegetarian, meat, and dessert dishes give you the best of Egyptian cuisine, it is also a great idea to look into their beverage offerings, apart from the popular nutritious beers, of course.

Try the creamy Egyptian Sobia Drink made from rice, coconut milk, sugar, vanilla, or some powder. It is a popular option for kids: another great drink sahlab, essentially warm milk mixed with root powder to form a thick drink. Salhlab is topped with fruits or nuts.

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