The distinctive, warming aromas of Egyptian cuisine start wafting through the air early in the morning in preparation of the most anticipated meal of the day. Breakfast in Egypt features some of the region’s most beloved dishes, which are meant to be enjoyed slowly and with friends or family before starting the day ahead. Most of these dishes have ancient origins, and yet their original recipes have changed little over the centuries. The Egyptians know not to mess with perfection!
Taameyya is considered by most Egyptians to be the ‘true falafel’, and any talk of disputing this can result in a heated discussion. The primary difference between Taameyya and the rest of the world’s falafel is the main ingredient. Egyptians prefer to adhere to the recipe that dates back to the days of the Pharaohs and use split fava beans to create these little gems of joy. In contrast, the rest of the world use dried chickpeas.
Taameyya begins with dried and split fava beans which are soaked overnight and subsequently mixed with fresh herbs and spices, resulting in the dish’s signature bright green colour. Finally, the mix is shaped into balls, sprinkled with sesame seeds and flash fried in hot oil. The final creation is a puffy ball of delicious fried crispiness on the outside with a fluffy, moist and flavourful interior that is frequently stuffed into pita bread along with fresh tomatoes and a drizzle of tahini.
2. Foul Medames
Foul Medames’ beauty is found in its simplicity. A basic recipe of mashed fava beans, cumin, salt, pepper and lemon comes together to create a dish that is rich in flavour and extremely versatile. Variations can include tomato foul or tahini foul. When served with an egg and fresh pita bread, foul medames makes for a quick, easy and satisfying breakfast.
3. Beid Bel Basturma
Within every culture, there is always one dish that could easily represent all the rest without discussion. In Egypt that dish is Beid Bel Basturma; in a pinch one could survive on it alone and never feel deprived. The beef in this dish is dried with a paste of cumin, garlic, fenugreek and paprika, and the smell alone is enough to make your mouth (and eyes!) water in anticipation. This Egyptian version of ‘bacon and eggs’ has Armenian origins, but is still made according to the traditional recipe. The complete dish is made by cooking eggs in copious amounts of ghee and then adding slices of basturma to the mix. Beid Bel Basturma may only be consumed with fresh pita bread – and perish the thought of using cutlery! The meal truly ‘sticks to your bones’, so come to the table hungry and you’ll leave satisfied (and looking forward to the next round).
True to form, the Egyptians don’t hold back with their use of fresh aromatics and herbs in their breakfast dishes. The meal is the complete opposite of the sweet and often carb-loaded breakfasts of the West, and its authenticity is almost as appealing as its rich flavour. During a holiday in Egypt, you’ll immediately understand why breakfast is the most eagerly anticipated meal of the day!