Food of Cairo - 22 Egyptian Dishes to Try When in Cairo

Cairo, the capital city of Egypt, is primarily famous for historical sightseeing. But it offers a lot more than that. If you are a foodie, you are surely in for a treat as Cairo has some of the best foods in the world. You will be amazed by the flavour and variety of authentic dishes. The food is rich in fats and carbs, and there are many sorts of meat to choose from. If you are vegetarian, don't worry because many dishes use a lot of vegetables. In addition, you can find North African and Middle Eastern influences in their cuisine.

Here are some of the best mouth-watering food and drinks to try in Cairo-  

1. Koshary


Koshary is a national dish and one of Cairo's most famous street foods. It has a base of rice and macaroni and is mixed with lentils or chickpeas. Vinegar and tomato sauce are added to it. It is then garnished with fried onions. It is a simple traditional food that is considered to be vegan heaven. Koshary is related to Mediterranean cuisine, but the dish here uses local lemon sauce, which gives it a different and unique taste.  

Where to try: Felfela (Opens 10 AM – 11 PM), Abou Tarek (Opens 7 AM – 11:45 PM), and Koshary El Tahrir (Opens 10 AM – 12 AM).
Approximate Cost:  EGP 7 – EGP 25 (depending upon the place).

2. Hawawshi

Hawawshi is another traditional dish and famous street food in Cairo, which is a mix between a pie and a sandwich. It is prepared by stuffing pita bread with minced meat and is flavoured with peppers, onions, or pine nuts. The sandwich is roasted in a wooden oven so that it becomes extremely crispy. It is generally served with pickled vegetables (torshi) and is spicy.
Where to try: Hawashi el Refaey (Opens 11 AM – 1 AM) El Hawawshy El Asly (Opens 3 PM – 12 AM on Weekdays, 3 PM – 1 AM on Thursday and Friday, and closed on Tuesdays).
Approximate Cost: EGP 7 – EGP 50 (Depending on the size and place).

3. Mahshi

One of the best foods in Cairo is Mahshi which means 'stuffed. It is veggies stuffed with rice mixture. Vegetables like aubergines, marrows, peppers, cabbage leaves, and grapevine leaves are stuffed with combinations of spiced rice, minced meat, and pine nuts. It is vegetarian food, but the meat could be used as well. Besides using veggies, leafy greens (like kale, chard, and lettuce) can also be used for stuffing. The mahshi in Cairo is cooked in broth.
Where to try: El Mandara (Opens 9 AM – 12 AM), Hadramot Antar (Opens 10:30 AM – 5 AM), El Dahan (Address: Al Gamaleyah, Qesm Gamaleyah, Cairo, Opens 10 AM – 9:00 PM every day with Sunday’s closed).
Approximate Cost: Starting from EGP 5 - EGP 20 (Depending on the place).

 4. Hamam Mahshi

hamam mahshi
If you want a luxurious meal, you must try this delicious dish of Cairo for special occasions. Hamam Mahshi is a roasted pigeon. The birds are marinated and stuffed with a mixture of wheat or rice, onions, cinnamon, cumin, and nuts and then grilled over a wood charcoal fire. Be careful while eating the small and thin bones of pigeons, as they might cut your tongue and cheek muscles from inside if you eat fastly.
Where to try: Farahat (Opens 11 AM – 2 AM), Shaker restaurant (Opens 10 AM – 2 AM), Kaber Sohby (Opens 12 PM – 5 AM).
Approximate Cost: EGP 40 (Depending on the place).

5. Mesakaa/ Moussaka 

Mesakaa, is a layered and baked eggplant-based dish that includes meat and sometimes béchamel sauce. However, it can be made purely vegan too. The eggplant is fried, and the whole dish is baked. It is then assembled by layering the eggplant with a tomato sauce and is usually served with rice. It does taste like an exotic version of lasagne.
Where to try: Zitouni restaurant (Opens 6 AM – 11:30 AM, Reopens 1:00 PM – 12 AM).
Approximate Cost:  EGP 126 per tray (depending upon the place).

6. Keshk


Keshk is a white soup made of fermented bulgur wheat in sour milk or yoghurt, which is then formed into balls and dried. Then these balls are taken, soaked in water, separated with hands, and dropped into boiling broth. Afterwards, the flour dissolved in water is added and stirred until we get something like pudding. This dish tastes creamy and can be served with cooked chicken and white rice. It is a perfect soup for winter.

 Where to try: Abou el sid (Opens 1 PM – 1 AM).
Approximate Cost: Starting from EGP 20 (depending upon the place).

7. Feteer 

Are you a fan of Pizza? Then you have to try the Egyptian rendition of Pizza. Feteer Meshaltet (cushioned pies) is an Egyptian layered pastry made up of thin layers of dough and ghee with an optional filling. The optional fillings can be both sweet and savoury. Some options for sweet fillings are cheese, coconut, mahalabiya, malban, Nutella, or chocolate, while savoury fillings can be ground beef, sausage, etc. The feteer is generally soaked in honey and spread with jam or cheese. Another option is just to sprinkle it with powdered sugar.
Where to try: Desoky & Soda (Opens 9 AM – 1 AM), El Domiaty (Opens 8 AM – 1 AM), wahet omar cafe cairo (Open 24*7), Tayer Ya Fatayer (Opens 7:45 AM – 12: 45 AM), El Dawar (Opens 9:00 AM – 3:00 AM).
Approximate Cost: Starting from EGP 15.

8. Ful Medames

ful medames
If you are in Cairo, you must try this bean stew dish. It is prepared with fava beans and flavoured with cumin, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and onion and served with bread, tahini, and salads. It is one of the popular dishes of Cairo served in restaurants and by street vendors. Ful Medames is usually eaten as breakfast.
Where to try: Felfela (Opens 10 AM – 11 PM), El Gahsh (Open 24*7), Arabiata (Opens 7 AM – 2: 30 AM), Gad restaurant (Opens 7 AM – 12 AM).
Approximate Cost: EGP 20( Depending upon the place) .

9. Egyptian Falafel (Taamiya)

Egyptian falafel (also known as taamiya) is cooked with beans and herbs with a bright green centre and a brown deep-fried exterior. It combines fava beans with chopped cilantro, parsley, white onion, garlic, and leek. Another option to garnish it with is Sesame seeds. Falafel is usually eaten with tahini - a vinegary sauce, bread, and pickles. It is a breakfast meal. 
Where to try: Felfela (Opens 10 AM – 11 PM), Sabaya (Opens 12 PM – 1 AM), Abou El Sid (Opens 1 PM – 1 AM), Kazaz Restaurant (Opens 7 AM - 3 AM), Arabiata (Opens 7 AM - 2:30 AM), Zooba (Opens 8 AM – 1 AM).
Approximate Cost: Starting from EGP 1 for 1 piece.

10. Shawarma


Shawarma is one of the most famous comfort street foods in Cairo. It is slices of meat carved from a slowly revolving skewer and is served with bread, salads, and sauces. Traditionally it was made with mutton or lamb, but it can also be made with chicken, turkey, beef, or veal.

Where to try: Abu Haidar (Opens 8:30 AM - 1:30 AM), Sabaya (Opens 12 PM – 1 AM), Felfela (Opens 10 AM – 11 PM), Zooba (Opens 8 AM – 1 AM), Taza (Opens 7 AM - 3 AM).
Approximate Cost: Starting from EGP 10.

11. Molokhia


Molokhia is a leafy soup served with rice, chicken, or rabbit. The broth is packed with chopped leafy greens and a bit of garlic. Many use rice and meat in the soup accompanied by lemon or lime. It is generally eaten cooked and not raw and is frequently turned into soup or stew. You can also add some bread.

Where to try: Kaber Sobhy (Opens 12 PM - 5 AM), El Monofy (Opens 10 AM - 2 AM), El Kababgy (Open 24*7).
Approximate Cost: Starting from EGP 5.

12. Fatteh 

This is one of the most famous foods in the Middle East, but the Cairo fatteh is delicious and made differently. It is a rice dish with fried pieces of bread, garlic, lamb, beef, and tomato sauce. Fatteh is a traditional Egyptian food to celebrate any occasion.
Where to try: Abou el Sid (Opens 1 PM – 1 AM), Sabaya (Opens 12 PM – 1 AM), Om Hassan (Opens 11 AM - 3 AM).
Approximate Cost: EGP 250 ( for 4 adults).

13. Kebab and Kofta

Who would want to miss a chance to eat Kebab and Kofta in Cairo? Moreover, there are varieties of kebabs to choose from. Kofta are meatballs made from lamb or minced beef and flavoured with spices. They are then rolled onto a skewer and barbecued over coals. Kebabs are chunks of beef cooked over coals on a skewer. Bread, dips, and veggies are also served with them. 
Where to try: Shaker restaurant (Opens 10 AM - 2 AM), Abou Shakra (Opens 10 AM - 1 AM), Kebabgy Oriental Grill (Opens 12 PM -12 AM).
Approximate Cost: 12 EGP.

14. Kebda (Liver) Sandwiches

kebda sandwich

This food was originally made with water buffalo liver and you must give it a try. The chopped liver is first marinated in a spicy sauce and then sautéed with peppers, chillies, and onions. Afterwards, it gets stuffed into a long roll and drizzled with tahini sauce.

Where to try: Kebdet el Prince (Opens 12 PM - 5 AM), Kazouza (Opens 8 AM - 2 AM every day. Sunday timings are 8 PM - 12 AM).
Approximate Cost: EGP 6 - EGP 50 (Depending upon the place).

15. Halabessa 

Halabessa/Halabisa is a very well-known Egyptian Chickpea soup. It is served with lemon, mostly hot during the winter season. It is nutritious, hearty and comforting. People generally call this soup snack soup since it is a savoury drink served in a glass cup with a spoon and lemon wedge. 
Where to try: You can buy from the street truck.
Approximate Cost: EGP 10.

16. Coffee

Caption Link

If you are a coffee fanatic, ahwa is the perfect place to experience the Cairene culture. The traditional cafes are filled with the smoke of shishas. Also, ahwa's are the best place to meet new people.

 Where to try: El-Fishawy (Opens 12:30 PM – 1 AM).
Approximate Cost: EGP 2.

17. Sahlab


Sahlab is hot milk mixed with pure orchid root powder. It takes less than 2 minutes to get ready, but you will be amazed by the nutty toppings and extra secret ingredients added to it. The toppings include cinnamon, shredded coconut, crushed pistachio, and maybe even some raisins, banana, or strawberries. 

Where to try: El Fishawy cafe (Opens 12:30 PM - 1 AM), Saheb El Sa'ada (Opens 10 AM - 2 AM).
Approximate Cost: EGP 10.

18. Simit

Delicious, circular and sesame topped bread, Simit is a popular food in Cairo. This looks like a cross between a bagel and a pretzel and is usually served with a hard-boiled egg. It tastes like lightly sweetened crusty bread with a very pronounced sesame flavour.
Where to try: street cart at a souk (marketplace) such as Khan el-Khalili (Al-Azhar St).
Approximate Cost: EGP 13.

19. Om Ali


If you love desserts, then this is a perfect choice for you. Om Ali (Ali's mother) is a bread pudding made of pastry blended with nuts, raisins, coconut, cinnamon, cream and plenty of sugar. It is much lighter and milkier than the European or American version.

Where to try: The Khan El-Khalili Restaurant et Naguib Mahfouz Coffee Shop (Opens 10 AM - 12 AM), El Malky (Opens 10 AM - 3 AM).
Approximate Cost: EGP 18.

 20. Baklava

This famous Turkish dessert is also available in Cairo with some alterations. You mustn't miss this. It consists of baked layers of filo dough filled with crushed nuts and topped with sharbat or sweet syrup. It is extremely juicy and sweet.
Where to try: Mandarine Koueider (Opens 9 AM - 12 AM), El Abd Bakery (Opens 8:30 AM - 11:30 PM).
Approximate Cost: EGP 190.

21. Kunafa

Kunafa is a famous Middle Eastern dessert that is prepared just like Baklava. But it is much crispier because of its layers which are usually topped with a lot of grounded pistachios and makes the food look green. The spun pastry, kataifi, is soaked in a sweet, sugar-based syrup known as attar and layered with cheese, clotted cream, pistachio, or nuts. This is available at any local bakery in Cairo.
Where to try: Grand kunafa Ala ElFahm (Opens 11 AM - 1:30 AM), Simonds (Open 24*7), Kunafa Bakery (Opens 5 AM - 1 AM), La Poire (Open 7:30 AM - 12 AM).
Approximate Cost: EGP 150 for Kunafa with cream plate at La poire costs.

22. Basbousa


If you love extra sugar and creaminess, basbousa will be your top choice. It is a crumbly cake baked and topped with sharbat. The semolina batter is first baked in a sheet pan, and then orange flower water, rose water, or simple syrup can be added to sweeten it before cutting it into diamond shapes or squares.

Where to try: Mandarine Koueider (Opens 9 AM - 12 AM), El Abd Bakery (Opens 8:30 AM - 11:30 PM), La Poire (Open 7:30 AM - 12 AM).
Approximate Cost: Starting from EGP 27.
Overall, there is a lot of variety to choose from. The foods, the drinks, and the desserts of Cairo will leave you craving more. So don't forget to try all these amazing dishes during your trip to the Egyptian Capital.

This post was published by Aayushi Shukla

Share this post on social media
Google +

Comments on this post