What Do People Eat in Egypt?

For those wondering, “What do people in Egypt eat?”, you’ve come to the right place. Egyptian cuisine is a fusion of Middle Eastern, African, and Mediterranean flavors, consisting mainly of meats, fresh produce, legumes, and fish. In this article, you’ll gain a peak into which foods and specific cuisines Egypt is best known for in order to assess all your culinary options for your next visit.

egypt market food, what foods Egyptians eat

What Should I Order at a Restaurant in Egypt?

If you’re looking for a taste of the traditional cuisine of Egypt, dishes specific to the region are found in most restaurants. The most popular dishes include koshari (a vegetarian dish made with lentils, macaroni and rice topped with tomato sauce and fried onions), ful medames (slow-cooked fava beans served with olive oil and lemon), and shawarma (marinated meat wrapped in flatbread). Indulge in these dishes at some of the greatest Cairo restaurants.

ful medames, what foods Egyptians eat

For something less traditional but still tasty, try falafel or stuffed grape leaves, but in addition to these classic Egyptian dishes, many restaurants also serve international cuisine. Have some Italian, French, or even American food if that’s what you’re craving.

What Did They Eat in Ancient Egypt?

In ancient times, Egyptians ate mostly bread and vegetables. They also consumed poultry, beef, fish and dairy products such as milk and cheese. The main staples of ancient Egyptian diets were wheat, barley, and other grains that were ground to make a variety of breads. Vegetables such as onions, garlic, lettuce, and cucumbers were widely available in the markets of Egypt and dates were also eaten as a common sweet treat.

The ancient Egyptians used spices such as coriander, cumin, and fenugreek in their cooking. They drank beer made of fermented grains, or wine made from grapes grown along the riverbanks of the Nile. While you can’t travel back in time to try the food in ancient Egypt, you can still be transported with an immersive experience such as this 2 Day Cairo tour or simply browse our exclusive list of Ancient Egypt tours.

What is Egypt’s National Dish?

Egypt’s national dish is koshari, a vegetarian dish made of lentils, macaroni, and rice topped with tomato sauce and fried onions. This is what Egyptian people eat on a daily basis and usually pair it with garlicky pickles or salad. If you want to get a taste of authentic Egyptian food, this dish is it.

Koshari, what foods Egyptians eat

Koshari has become the most popular food in this country due to its affordability, versatility, and deliciousness. It’s a great option for vegetarians, vegans, and those looking to try something new that it’s found in virtually every restaurant throughout Egypt.

What Do Egyptian Locals Eat?

So what do Egyptian locals typically eat? For the most important meal of the day, the locals tend to opt for breakfasts which consist of eggs, cheese, and ful medames (stewed fava beans). Lunches and dinners can range from the following: tahini salad, falafel wraps or shish taouk (chicken wrapped in pita bread). Rice is also a popular dish, with varieties such as koshari or mahshi rice. You can even check out our Cairo guide or ultimate guide of Alexandria to see what these vibrant cityscapes can offer you.

Other popular Egyptians dishes include: 

  • Koshari – a mix of rice, macaroni and lentils
  • Mahshi – stuffed vegetables
  • Foul – mashed fava beans
  • Baklava and Basbousa – pastries

As for desserts, Baklava is a popular pastry made with layers of thin dough and honey syrup, while basbousa is a semolina cake soaked in sugar syrup. Umm Ali is another authentic dessert to the Middle East, consisting of puff pastry, milk, nuts and raisins. Kunafa (or kanafeh) is a cheese-filled pastry topped with sugary syrup; it can be served hot or cold and makes for an excellent treat after dinner.

What are the Best Egyptian Street Foods?

shawarma, what foods Egyptians eat

Egyptian street food is a great way to experience local cuisine at an affordable price. There are numerous delicious and traditional dishes served from carts or stands all over Egypt. Some of the most popular options include falafel, which are deep-fried chickpea balls; shawarma – meat cooked on a rotating spit served in pita or laffa bread; ta’miya, which is fava beans mashed up with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil; and koshari, a mix of rice, macaroni and lentils. Many of these dishes also come with fresh vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and hot sauce or tahini for dipping or garnish.

Egyptian Foods for Kids or Picky Eaters

There are a variety of options for kids and picky eaters in Egypt. Many restaurants offer kid-friendly meals such as hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, and pasta. Street vendors also sell snacks like fresh fruit, sambousek (fried pastries filled with meat or cheese), or fried chicken. For those who aren’t too adventurous with their palates and prefer to stick to familiar cuisine, restaurants with Italian or even Chinese menus are available.

Last Licks

So what do Egyptians eat? Many hearty and savory dishes, ranging from traditional breakfasts like eggs, cheese and ful medames to street foods like falafel or shawarma. Most of these dishes are topped with drizzling tahini and paired with fresh salads. Whether you’re a traveler or a local, Egyptian cuisine is sure to delight you. For the best taste, try joining one of our tours here at Tourist Egypt; we offer plenty of options for every type of traveler.

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