Egypt is a country bordering the Mediterranean that straddles the continents of Africa and Asia. It is an ancient land, with a civilisation extending back at least 8000 years. Originally Egypt was called km.t an Egyptian word meaning ‘the Black land’ and named after the black fertile silts deposited by the Nile river upon it’s banks after the seasonal floods. These black silts make the banks of the Nile extremely fertile and they are the reason for the establishment and development o the Egyptian civilization.
Egyptian cuisine is very diverse, reflecting the country’s long history and it’s position as the bridge between Africa and Arabia. The fertile plains of the Nile made Egypt a major producer of grains and grains, beans (especially broad [fava] beans), fruit and fish have long been staples of the diet. Traditionally meat was considered a luxury and typically tends to be used to flavour a meal. Honey was the traditional sweetener and is still used in many Egyptian pastries and desserts.
Below are two classic Egyptian recipes:
450g dried broad (fava) beans or pink beans
90g red lentils
3 tbsp lemon juice
60ml olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
100g spring onions, chopped
salt and black pepper to taste
Sort through and rinse the beans then place in a large saucepan and add lightly-salted water to cover. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover and cook on low heat for 2½ hours. If needed top-up the water to ensure that the beans are covered at all times. Add the lentils, cover and simmer for a further 30 minutes, until both the lentils and the beans are tender and the mixture has thickened. Stir-in the lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Tip into a serving bowl and garnish with the chopped spring onions.
Koushry (Rice and Lentil Stew)
180g dark lentils
180g long-grain rice
1 tsp salt
3 medium onions, chopped
2 tbsp oil
Place the rice and lentils in separate pans. then add just enough boiling water to the lentils to cover and add 400ml water to the rice. Bring both pans to a simmer and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.
Drain and combine the rice and lentils in a single pan. Season with salt and add 120ml boiling water. Cover and simmer for a further 20 minutes, until both the rice and the lentils are tender. Meanwhile, fry the onions until golden brown. Stir into the rice and lentil mixture before serving.