What the Locals Eat in Cairo - 5 Street Food Favourites You Must Try While in Egypt

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Pyramids, Pharaohs and Princes- Oh my!

The Egyptian Capital of Cairo is known for many things; situated along The Nile River, The Pyramids of Giza and King Tut's tomb. The city is known for its abundance of history and tales of Princes, Kings and Queens of long ago, and the ancient civilization that predates it. The city's rich history lingers in the old ruins, stone buildings and alleys, the old market bazaar and in the town locals, eager to share their stories in this vivacious city where old meets new.

While wandering and revelling in the city sights and gazing up at the pyramids, you might find that you have worked yourself up quite the appetite! Here are 5 traditional Egyptian street eats to satisfy your cravings.


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Kofta Kebabs and Egyptian Style Shawarma

No Egyptian street-food list would be complete without the requisite street-meat option! Many cities have their own rendition of the charcoal flamed Kebab and/or Shawarma and Cairo definitely ticks all the boxes to curb your cravings. You will find many street-stalls tending to their large tree-trunk like hunks of meat (usually beef or lamb), spinning on a spit or slowly turning each kebab skewer, kissing them with the slow char of the grill to absolute perfection. Each kebab is seasoned by hand and made to order especially for you.

Falafel - Taameya

Like kofta and shawarma, falafel is enjoyed throughout the Middle East, and Cairo is definitely no exception. Golden, crispy and fried to perfection, these perfectly spiced and mashed appetizer balls are made with a combination of fava beans, chickpeas, parsley and various warming spices and can be eaten alone and dipped into hummus or tahini or packed into a pita and served with fresh vegetables and sauces as a wrap. Great for vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike– falafel is a great tasty and affordable option for the entire family.

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Kunafa

Have you got a sweet-tooth you need to curb? Look no further than a hot helping of Kunafa- a traditional Middle Eastern dessert made with shredded filo pastry and cheese or cream and sweetened with a sugar-honey based syrup. People of all ages flock to every stall that serves this mouth-watering dessert, and as everyone has various methods and renditions of how they make their kunafa, you are sure to find one that suits your needs. Have it filled with stretchy cheese, clotted cream and topped with pistachios, nuts or dates– everyone has their favourite version of this traditional sweet.

Koshary

Looking to get a taste of everything Egypt has to offer? Look no further than a hearty bowl of traditional Koshary. This is one of those 'everything but the kitchen sink' dishes, made up of broken pieces of spaghetti and other pasta and vermicelli, lentils, chickpeas, rice and tomato sauce and a few other things you may have stowed in your pantry. If you are an absolute carb-lover, Koshary is a sure-fire way to fill your belly quickly and cheaply.

Ful Medames - Egyptian Style Stewed Fava Beans

An underrated Egyptian street food that definitely should never be underestimated and had to be included in this top list. Ful is a traditional Middle Eastern dish of stewed fava beans, combined with olive oil, cumin, garlic and onions and a levy of other warming spices. Traditionally served and cooked in a metal jug/canister for easy portioning, this humble yet comforting dish is a crowd-pleaser. Serve it up with some fresh herbs and veggies on the side along with some fresh Arabic bread, and you my friend have yourself a little piece of Cairo as authentic as it gets.

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Bonus: Arabic Bread

This goes without saying; however, bread is a really big deal in the Egyptian/Middle Eastern Diet. Served up with most if not all dishes and present at every meal, Arabic bread is light, warm and is the perfect accompaniment to every traditional meal. Bread is actually one of the foods/ingredients subsidized by the Egyptian Government, so no matter what walk of life you come from, you have a right to bread and are able to purchase it for low prices.

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Bon Appetit, Travellers!

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