The term 'Pharaoh' is derived from the words Pr-Aa meaning 'Great House'


Egyptian Cuisine




Due to a history of foreign trade, invasions and dominations by other cultures, Egypt has borrowed lots of food. These are mostly from Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Greece. But even those were modified in Egypt to a great extent, making them uniquely Egyptian.


Common ingredients used in Egyptian cuisine included garlic, herbs, vegetables, lemon, pure ghee, or 'laban rayeb', a similar to yoghurt product.

In ancient times, society in Egypt was divided into classes based on occupation, with the Pharaoh at the top . The Kings of Egypt were not called Pharaoh's by the ancient Egyptians. The word was used by the Greeks and Hebrews.


Cooking was done in clay ovens as well as over open fires. Wood was used for fuel, even though it was scarce. Food was baked, boiled, stewed, fried, grilled, or roasted.  Storage jars, bowls, pots, pans, ladles, sieves, and whisks were all used in the preparation of food.


Most of the commoners used dishes that were made of clay, while the wealthy used dishes made of bronze, silver, and gold.  Beer was the most popular beverage, and bread was the staple food in the Egyptian diet. The beer was made with barley. The barley was left to dry, and then baked into loaves of bread. The baked barley loaves were then broken into pieces and mixed with the dried grain in a large jug of water and left to ferment.


Wine was a drink that was produced by the Egyptians and was usually found only at the tables of the wealthy.


The Nile served as a source of food for the people of ancient Egypt and was crucial to agriculture in the region. The river teemed with fish, and the ancient Egyptians consumed many different kinds, including catfish, mullet, bolti, and perch. Thanks to the annual flooding of the Nile, the land became very fertile and put forth an abundance of vegetables as cucumbers, peas, okra, olives, radishes, lettuce, onions, garlic, beets, sweet onions, turnips, chick peas, beans, and lentils, asparagus and more, fine fruit such as grapes, figs, dates, pomegranates, plums and watermelon,  and various kinds of nuts.

Wealthy Egyptians and the pharaohs enjoyed meat (especially mutton and goat, but also beef), fowl (quail, doves, geese) and honey. Even hyenas were part of their diet.


The Nile made life in ancient Egypt possible. The river was a regular and predictable source of water in a desert environment. 

Over the ages the glory of the Egyptian empire faded, and many invaders passed it from hand to hand. The Persians, the Greeks, the Romans and the Ottomans devoured the Egyptian cuisine and added influences, ingredients, flavors and recipes of their own. Later, Egyptian cooking mingled with influences from Syria, Lebanon and other countries until by and large it became a typical Middle Eastern cuisine, similar to other countries in the region.


The Egyptian's staple food was bread. It was made from barley and emmer wheat, their most common crops. Bread was usually baked in a conical mold that was placed over an open fire. For the common people of Egypt, cereal foods formed their main diet from the predynastic period onward. 

From very early on, bread and beer were consumed at every meal, by everyone, and no meal was considered complete without them.  Bread was made from a variety of ingredients, though often only a specific species of wheat was thought best . Depending on the type of flour, the structure and texture of a loaf could be very different.

To make bread, women ground wheat into flour. The flour was then pounded by men to make a fine grain. Sesame seeds, honey, fruit, butter, and herbs were often added to the dough to help flavor the bread. Mixing, kneading it with both hands or sometimes with the feat in large containers.  Yeast, salt, spices, milk and sometimes butter and eggs were then added, before the bread was placed in a baking form or patted into various shapes. 

At first it was cooked in the shape of a pancake, and later bread was made in long or round rolls, sometimes even shaped into figures, particularly for ceremonial purposes.  Sometimes thick loves were made, with a hollow center that was then filled with beans, vegetables or other items and then it was the flat bread  which was made with raised edges in order to hold eggs, or other fillings. Bread was often sweetened with honey or dates, or flavored with sesame, aniseed or fruit.


While the rich used honey as a sweetener, the poor employed dates. They were also dried for later consumption, and were sometimes fermented to make wine.

Beef was eaten by the rich and appeared on the tables of common people usually only during festive occasions, when a sheep or goat might be slaughtered. Pork was eaten too.

Cinnamon and cassia were treasured spices. Medical documents of about 1550 BC record use of anise, caraway, cassia, cardamom, mustard, sesame, fenugreek, saffron and other spices by Egyptians.The spice trade is very ancient. The Roman started sailing to India from Egypt in the first century AD. 


Although the ancient Egyptians didn't use cookbooks as far as we know, the ingredients however that needed to make most of the dishes are well known, many of which are still used today.

Ful Medames for example, is Egypt national dish and dates as far back as the Pharaonic periods. Small brown beans cooked slowly, seasoned with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, parsley and salt and accompanied by raw onion, pita and a brown hard-boiled egg.

The dishes that are considered Egyptian food nowadays are simple. Ta'amia, the Egyptian falafel made of broad beans is also an ancient dish that is still very popular . During Lent, when some are forbidden to eat meat, ta'amia becomes one of the important foods that helps get through . 

Melokhia, the national soup of
Egypt, made of chicken or beef stock in which leaves of melokhia (mallow) are cooked. 

The Egyptian meal usually ends with fruit or a tray of sweets soaked in honey or sugar syrup. The authentic Egyptian kitchen appears on two other desserts: Basbousa (semolina cake) and 'Oum Ali' (Ali's mother), sweet pastry made with crumbled puff pastry or filo dough and hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds, coconut and raisins baked in sweet cream.


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