Monday, January 16, 2017

Ancient Egyptian cuisine

Ancient Egyptian Cuisine


Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North-Eastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. It is one of six civilizations globally to arise independently.
The cuisine of ancient Egypt covers a span of over three thousand years, but still retained many consistent traits until well into Greco-Roman times. The staples of both poor and wealthy Egyptians were bread and beer, often accompanied by  green shooted onions, other vegetables, and to a lesser extent meat, game and fish

Geographical Features
The geography of Egypt relates to 2 regions:
1.North Africa
2. South West Asia  
Egypt has Coastlines on both the Mediterranean sea  and Red sea.
Egypt has an area of 1,001,449km

Festivals Of Egypt

Egypt is predominantly Muslim, but a large minority of Coptic Christians and a Melange of other religions make the country an exciting destination for religions, secular and ancient cultural festivals.For many of this celebrations, people pour out into the streets wearing traditional costumes to enjoy impromptu song and  dance performance and eat traditional foods like Fata(traditional dish of rice garlic and meat soup)
Sham al –naseem is a festival of Egypt whose traditional food is Midamis or Fuul(a dish made of kidney beans).Moulid an-nabi is a traditonal sweet like halawet el-moulid(A type of Halwa)


Egyptians believed that when people die, they move on to another world.
Since people needed their body in the afterlife, it would need to be “preserved.”
The process of mummification was developed.

The Process of Mummification

First they would remove the organs.  These would go into canopic jars.
They would take the brain out through the nose.
They packed the body with natron (a salt mixture) that would remove all the moisture 
After several weeks, they would apply oil, wrap the body in bandages and place the body in a sarcophagus.  They would put a decorated mask on the body.
The body would be put in a chamber with all the things needed for the afterlife…food, riches, etc.Egyptians developed a form of picture or symbol writing known as hieroglyphics


Egyptians developed a form of picture or symbol writing known as hieroglyphics


The Egyptians believed in many gods.
Egyptians prayed to different gods who controlled different things. 
They built temples and shrines to honor their gods.
The Egyptians believed in an “afterlife.”


The king or ruler of Egypt was called a Pharaoh.
The Pharaoh was seen as a god.
Everyone worked for the pharaoh.
When he died, the pharaoh was mummified and buried in a beautiful chamber along with his belongings.
Like all civilizations, Egyptians had the need for laws.  The Pharaoh was the supreme judge of what was right and wrong under the law.

Ramadan significance
Athough Ramadan is a month of fasting for Muslims in Egypt, it is usually a time when Egyptians pay a lot of attention to food variety and richness, since breaking the fast is a family affair, often with entire extended families meeting at the table just after sunset. There are several special desserts served almost exclusive during Ramadan, such as Kunāfah  and Qatayef . In this month, many Egyptians prepare a special table for the poor or passers-by, usually in a tent in the street, called Ma'edet Rahman which translates literally as Table of (God) the Gracious (Merciful).


Ancient Egyptians are known to have used a lot of garlic and onions in their everyday dishes. Fresh garlic mashed with other herbs is used in spicy tomato salad and also stuffed in boiled or baked aubergines (eggplant). Garlic fried with coriander is added to Molokheyya, a popular green soup made from finely chopped jute leaves, sometimes with chicken or rabbit. Fried onions can be also added to Koshari

Meat came from domesticated animals, game and poultry. This possibly included partridge, quail, pigeon, ducks and geese. The most important animals were cattle, sheep, goats and pigs (previously thought to have been taboo to eat because the priests of Egypt referred pig to the evil god Seth).Beef was generally more expensive and would at most have been available once or twice a week, and then mostly for the royalty.Mutton and pork were more common. Poultry, both wild and domestic and fish were available to all but the most destitute. The alternative protein sources would rather have been legumes, eggs, cheese and the amino acids available in the tandem staples of bread and beer

The basic food was bread - wheat was the most important crop used to make bread.
Egyptian bread was made almost exclusively from emmer wheat, which was more difficult to turn into flour than most other varieties of wheat
The baking techniques varied over time. In the Old Kingdom, heavy pottery molds were filled with dough and then set in the embers to bake. 
Tombs from the New Kingdom show images of bread in many different shapes and sizes. Loaves shaped like human figures, fish, various animals and fans, all of varying dough texture. Flavourings used for bread included coriander seeds and dates, but it is not known if this was ever used by the poor.

Vegetables were eaten as a complement to the ubiquitous beer and bread, and the most common were long shooted green scallions and garlic and both also had medical uses. There was also lettuce, celery (eaten raw or used to flavor stews), certain types of cucumber and, perhaps, some types of Old World gourds and even melons. By Greco-Roman times there were turnips, but it is not certain if they were available before that period. Various tubers of sedges, including papyrus were eaten raw, boiled, roasted or ground into flour and were rich in nutrients.

The most common fruit were dates and there were also figs, grapes (and raisins), dom palm nuts (eaten raw or steeped to make juice), certain species of Mimusops, and nabkberries (a species of the genus Ziziphus). Figs were so common because they were high in sugar and protein. The dates would either be dried/dehydrated or eaten fresh. Dates were sometimes even used to ferment wine and the poor would use them as sweeteners. Unlike vegetables, which were grown year round, fruit was more seasonal. Pomegranates and grapes would be brought into tombs of the deceased.

Beverages of Egypt
In Egypt beer was a primary source of nutrition, and consumed daily. Beer was such an important part of the Egyptian diet that it was even used as currency. It was an important source of protein, minerals and vitamins and was so valuable that beer jars were often used as a measurement of value and was used in medicine. Little is known about specific types of beer, but there is mention of, for example, sweet beer but without any specific details mentioned. barley was grown to make bread and also used for making beer, and so were lily seeds and roots, and tiger nut. Wine was produced by the first Dynasty in extensive cellars. Accurate records were kept of the vintages and quality of wines, jars were clearly labeled. Wine was a luxury and the main consumption took place as:  Offerings to the gods and dead  Pharaoh, nobles and the priests in temple ceremonies and party banquets In party scenes on the tomb walls, there are a number of images depicting the guests throwing up or being carried home because of their drunken state, drunkenness was seen as an amusement. Hathor was the goddess of wine and beer, temples associated with the goddess had their own vineyards to make sure that the celebrants had enough wine for the rituals. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


This blog speaks about the breads from the different countries of the Middle East region. Generally all the breads from this region are flat breads. Dry fruits, seeds etc. play an important role.


  •  Bahrain
  •  Cyprus
  •  Egypt
  •  Iran
  •  Iraq
  •  Israel
  •  Jordan
  •  Kuwait
  •  Lebanon
  • Oman
  •  Palestine
  •  Qatar
  •  Saudi Arabia
  •  Syria
  •  Turkey
  •  United Arab Emirates
  •  Yemen

Methods of cooking:

Deep fat frying 

Shallow frying

On charcoal

Stone cooking
Tandoor (iron)
Woodfire oven

 Staple crops:
Wheat and barley are the major staple crops grown in the Middle East region.In addition, significant quantities of rice, maize, lentils, chickpeas, vegetables and fruits are produced throughout the region.
Some commonly used ingredients include olives and olive   
oil, pitas, honey, sesame seeds, dates, sumac, chickpeas, mint and

Bahrain:Bahrain is a generally flat and arid archipelago in the Persian Gulf, east of Saudi Arabia.
Its primary crops are dates, bananas, citrus fruits, pomegranates, mangoes, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Rainfall in Bahrain is minimal and irregular. Rainfalls mostly occur in winter. Summers are very hot. The seas around Bahrain are very shallow, heating up quickly in the summer to produce high humidity, especially at night. Summer temperatures may reach up to 50 °C.

Khoubiz Mehala

It is an old traditional Bahraini bread baked in a clay over built in the ground.
It is usually served along with halawah.
It has dates in it as they are found largely.


Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia.Cyprus has a subtropical climate – Mediterranean and semi-arid type very mild winters (on the coast) and warm to hot summers.Pourgouri (bulgur, cracked wheat) is the traditional source of carbohydrate other than bread. Fresh vegetables and fruits are common ingredients.


They are crunchy on the outside with an amazingly soft and slightly chewy centre.
These delicious bread rings are covered with toasted sesame seeds.

Koulouri-Cypriot village bread 

They are crunchy on the outside with an amazingly soft and slightly chewy centre.
These delicious bread rings are covered with toasted sesame seeds.


Egypt officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia.
Egypt has an unusually hot, sunny and dry climate.

Egyptian cuisine makes heavy use of legumes and vegetables, since Egypt's rich Nile valley and delta produce large quantities of these crops in high quality.

Eesh Baladi

The ancient Egyptian bread. A round loaf of whole wheat bread.
This is a delicious everyday bread served at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Aish Merahrah

It is an Egyptian flat bread made with 5 -10% ground fenugreek seeds and maize.
The loaves are flat and wide, and usually about 50 cm in diameter. The bread is made of maize flour made into a soft dough fermented overnight with a sourdough starter, shaped into round loaves


Iran is the 18th largest country in the world.Iran's climate ranges from arid or semiarid, to subtropical along the Caspian coast and the northern forests.The coastal plains of the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman in southern Iran have mild winters, and very humid and hot summers.Fresh green herbs are frequently used along with fruits plums, pomegranates, quince, prunes, apricots, and raisins.

Barbari Bread:

It is a type of Persian flatbread primarily made in Iran. It is one of the thickest flat breads.
It is served in many restaurants with Lighvan cheese, of ewe's milk, similar to feta cheese.


It  is a plain, rectangular, triangular Iranian whole wheat leavened flatbread.
 Its name consists of two parts: 'Sang‘      in Persian means stone or pebble and 'sangak' means little stone. The bread is baked on a bed of small river stones in an oven.


Iraq mainly consists of desert, but near the two major rivers (Euphrates and Tigris) are fertile alluvial plains.
Summer temperatures average above 40 °C (104 °F) for most of the country and frequently exceed 48 °C Winter temperatures infrequently exceed 21 °C .
Characteristic ingredients of Iraqi cuisine include –cereals such as rice, bulgur wheat and barley, pulses and legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and cannellini.

Fruitsdates, raisins, apricots, figs, grapes, melon, pomegranate and citrus fruits, especially lemon and lime.


Taboon bread is a Middle Eastern flatbread.
Lafah or Lafa is an Iraqi pita that is of medium thickness, slightly chewy, doesn't tear easily, and is mostly used to wrap shawarma in food stands


Börek (also burek and other variants) is a family of baked filled pastries made of a thin 
flaky dough known as phyllo.

The top of the börek is often sprinkled with sesame seeds.


Israel is at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea , bounded by Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan and the West Bank to the east, and Egypt and the Gaza strip to the southwest.
 It has a typical Mediterranean climate with cool, rainy winters and long, hot summers.
Staple crops:
           Rice and cous cous.


Challah, is a special Jewish braided bread eaten on Sabbath and Jewish holidays.
 Challah is typically an egg-enriched bread, often braided. 


Malawach or malawah ‎ is a fried bread.
Malawach resembles a thick pancake, and it consists of thin layers of puff pastry brushed with oil or fat and cooked flat in a frying pan.
It is traditionally served with a crushed or grated tomato dip, hard boiled eggs. 


Jordan has a hot, dry climate characterized by long, hot, dry summers and short, cool winters.
Jordanian cuisine is a traditional style of food preparation originating from Jordan. The national main dish is Mansaf, which consists of lamb cooked in dried yogurt and served with seasoned rice on flat bread.
Fruits and vegetables including cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants, melons, bananas, and citrus crops often were produced in surplus amounts.


A dense, unleavened traditional Jordanian Bedouin bread baked directly in a wood fire by
burying in ash and covering with hot embers. 


Is a traditional Jordanian bread made mostly in a large leaf or ring-shape and is covered in sesame seeds. 


The Lebanese cuisine is an ancient one and part of the Levantine cuisine, which include the Egyptian cuisine, Palestinian cuisine, Syrian cuisine etc.
Lebanon has a Mediterranean climate characterized by long, hot, dry summers and short, cool, rainy winters.

Staple crops:  Wheat and barley

Saj bread:

A flat and thin round bread, it is baked on a domed metal griddle — an upside down iron disk.

In certain regions saj bread is known as a form of pita or lavash breads, both of which as well can be cooked on a saj griddle or disk. 


Pita or pitta  is a soft, slightly leavened flat bread baked from wheat flour.
Pita can be used to scoop sauces or dips such as hummus.


Kuwait is a country in the Persian Gulf. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Kuwait was a prosperous trade port.
Kuwait has an arid climate. Kuwait has a huge temperature difference between winter and summer.
Kuwait's traditional flatbread is called khubz. It is a large flatbread baked in a special oven. Numerous local bakeries dot the country. Bread is often served with mahyawa fish sauce.


Khubz, khoubz or khobz the Arabic word for bread, is usually used by non-Arabic speakers to refer
to the flatbread also known as pita that forms a staple of the local diet from the Arabian Peninsula to Morocco and also in Israel where there is a large community of Iraqi Jews. 


The Climate of Oman can be described as subtropical dry, hot desert climate with low annual rainfall, very high temperatures in summer and a big difference between maximum and minimum temperatures, especially in the inland areas.
Staple crops:  Peaches,grapes and walnuts 

Khubz rakhal:

Paper-thin, crispy Omani bread called khubz rakhal is filled with cheese, honey or egg, or a combination of all three.


The Climate of Yemen can be described as subtropical dry, hot desert climate with low annual rainfall, very high temperatures in summer.
In Yemen, many kitchens have a taboon (also called tannur), which is a round clay oven.
Cheese, butter, and other dairy products are less common in the Yemeni diet.


It is a layered rolled pastry that is baked at a very low heat over night.It is usually served for breakfast with a boiled egg, crushed tomatoes and zhug (a very spicy hot sauce).


Kubana is a traditional Yemenite Jewish pull-apart yeast bread.
It is usually baked overnight and eaten for breakfast or brunch on Shabbat
It is prepared baked at a low temperature in a tightly covered container so it gets steamed.
Ingredients include sugar, salt, butter (or margarine) and flour.

United Arab Emirates:

The United Arab Emirates  sometimes simply called the Emirates or the UAE, is a country located in the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf.
Emirati culture is based on Arabian culture and has been influenced by the cultures of Persia, India, and East Africa.
The traditional food of the Emirates has always been rice, fish, and meat.

Emirati khamir bread:

A breakfast bread served with fresh cheese.  
Khamir is nothing but arabic word for yeast.  
The bread is a mixture of yeast, flour, milk powder and is sprinkled with sesame seeds and cooked to a toasty brown color. 


It is a paper thin bread which resembles falazi and mahyawa.
It is made to celebrate UAE national day on 2nd december.


Turkey is transcontinental Eurasian country. Asian turkey with includes 97% and european turkey includes 3%.
It has a temperate Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild to cool, wet winters.
The cuisine is a fusion and refinement of central Asian ,middle eastern etc cuisines. 


Bazlama is a single layered, flat, circular and leavened bread with a creamish yellow colour, found
in Turkey.
During baking, the bread is turned over to bake the other side.
After baking, it is generally consumed fresh.. 


Yufka is a type of Turkish bread. It is a thin, round, and unleavened flat bread similar to lavash.
The sheets of yufka dough are baked on a heated iron plate called a sac in Turkish .
Before consumption, dry yufka bread is sprayed with warm water. 

Saudi Arabia:

Saudi Arabia's geography is dominated by the Arabian Desert and associated semi-desert and shrubland .
 is similar to that of the surrounding countries in the Arabian Peninsula, and has been heavily influenced by Turkish, Indian, Persian, and African food. 
Islamic dietary laws are enforced: pork is not allowed and other animals are slaughtered in accordance with halal. A dish consisting of a stuffed lamb, known as khūzī, is the traditional national dish. 


Bazlama is a single layered, flat, circular and leavened bread with a creamish yellow colour, found
in Turkey.
During baking, the bread is turned over to bake the other side.
After baking, it is generally consumed fresh.. 


This bread is traditionally served warm from the oven and is used to scoop up other foods .

Syrian Manoushi:

Manoushi bread is the number one snack food all around Lebanon and Syria.
Essentially, it is a sort of pizza although a little bit softer and more chewy than the Italian version.