We are going to Egypt (starting in Cairo) TODAY. So before we headed to Egypt we whet our palates with a little Egyptian food right here in Chicago. There is a lot of Persian and Lebanese food in Chicago, but not much Egyptian, so we had to seek out Cairo Kebab ( 1524 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL ) for a taste of Egypt.
One of the signature dishes you have to get in Egypt is koshary (seen above), so naturally we had to get it at Cairo Kebab. Koshary is mix of rice, lentils, macaroni and chickpeas with a spicy tomato sauce and topped with fried onions. Now, we have only had koshary a few times, so we are super excited to sample it in Egypt. Cairo Kebab’s rendition of koshary ($8.75) was a huge portion of filling, tasty comfort food, and we could really taste how well all of the elements complemented eachother. We also filled up on the delicious hummus and pita ($6 for a large, as seen below) and stuffed grape leaves ($5). At this point we were already astounded by the sheer amount of food – so it is a good thing that we decided to split among us the Cairo Kebab Combo ($15) a platter of Chicken Kebab, Shish Kebab, and Kofta Kebab, served on a bed of rice with grilled veggies. The kebabs were tasty, delicious and filling. If you are a fan of any particular type of kebab you can order that one individually as well. Though we did not try it – the chicken or beef shewarma also looked particularly tantalizing ().
We finished up our meal with typical sweets for dessert: Baklava and Mamoul (date cookies). We are definitely fans of Cairo Kebab – their renditions of Middle Eastern favorites and Egyptian specialties were great. We are now feeling a little more prepared for our trip to Egypt and its culinary delights. Do you have any Egyptian food recommendations?
One of the big events in town this Spring is the Ancient Egypt exhibition, Pharaoh: King of Ancient Egypt, at the Cleveland Museum of Art. M has always been a huge fan of ancient Egypt, and now the whole city has Egypt on the brain. A box of these gorgeous Ancient Egypt-themed chocolates from Maggie Louise Confections would be the perfect treat before the show – when they popped up on my Instagram feed I was instantly struck by their gorgeous colors! We didn’t find any Egyptian traditional recipes that called for chocolate, but if you are in Cairo, be sure to check out House of Cocoa for all things chocolate. However, there are plenty of other Egyptian desserts that would be great to try including Basbousa, an almond semolina flour cake and Umm/Om Ali, a bread pudding made with nuts.
We have eaten a lot of Lebanese street food, but Egyptian street food is something new to us. The most emblematic street food in Egypt is koshary/koshari, a mix of pasta and grains topped with chickpeas, a spicy tomato sauce and caramelized onions. Koshari Street (56 St Martin’s Ln, London WC2N 4EA) does a modern fast casual take on the Egyptian dish, offering three sizes of koshari in take away cups.
Located in the heart of London, Koshari street provides an unexpected cheap option right in the tourist track (though don’t worry, it is not touristy in the least!). Koshari Street is also a very quick option – Chipotle-style, the koshari is assembled in front of you to order. You can then customize the grain base with tomato sauces in three spiciness levels and you can specify if you would like onions and lemon on top. Though we didn’t think of it at the time, this dish is also vegan which makes it a good area option for all palates.
There were three sizes of koshari to choose from and we each ordered a small cup for a shockingly reasonable £3. We really enjoyed the mix of pasta and grains and the savory tomato sauce (vaguely reminiscent of Italian pasta and red sauce). M also went the extra mile and got spicy sauce. The koshari was tasty, warm and filling and easy to eat on the go. Definitely the perfect food for ambling about and taking in the sights!
Happy winter wishes from the miniature snow-covered Sphinx in Tobu World Square Theme Park in Japan.
Serious Eats has an extremely interesting post about a different side of the Arab Spring, what those involved in it are eating. In Egypt, the answer is Koshary.