Egyptian food has been influenced throughout history, particularly by its neighbours from the Middle East, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and Ottomans first influenced Egyptian cuisine thousands of years ago. More recently, the foods of other Arabic people in the Middle East such as the Lebanese, Palestinians, Syrians, as well as some foods from Europe, have affected the Egyptian diet. However, Egyptian cuisine maintains its uniqueness. After thousands of years, rice and bread remain staple foods, and molokhiyya (a spinach-like vegetable) and fuul (cooked, creamy fava beans), a national dish, are nearly as popular as long ago.

When holidaying in Luxor don’t be scared to venture into a local restaurant and try some of the delicious food.

In conjunction with this list please also see the traveller article on common Arabic words and phrases




Mezze Dishes - Yoghurt & Cucumber, Tahina, Aubergine, Balady Salad 


Shurbit firakh   -  Chicken soup

Shurbit ‘adas  -   Lentil soup

Shurbit khudaar   -  Vegetable soup

Fuul - Fava beans served with oil and lemon, sometimes also with onions, meat, eggs or tomato sauce

Taamiya (Falafel) - balls of deep-fried mashed chickpeas and spices

Shawarma - Slivers of pressed, spit-roasted lamb, chicken or beef served in pitta bread

Tahina - Sesame-seed paste mixed with spices, garlic and lemon, eaten with pitta bread

Babaghanoug - Paste of aubergines mashed with tahina

Kushari - Mixture of noodles, lentils and rice, topped with fried onions and a spicy tomato sauce

Hawawshi - Minced meat with added spices and cooked in pitta bread.  

Shakshouka - Chopped meat and tomato sauce, cooked with an egg on top

Makarona - Macaroni "cake" baked in a white sauce or mincemeat gravy

Mahshi - Literally "stuffed", variety of vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes) filled with mincemeat and/or rice, herbs and pine nuts

Wara einab - Vine leaves filled as above and flavoured with lemon juice

Fiteer- A pancake/pizza made of layers of flaky filo pastry with sweet or savoury fillings




Kofta - Mincemeat flavoured with spices and onions, grilled on a skewer

Molukhiyya - Jew's mallow, a leafy vegetable stewed with meat (often Rabbit) or chicken broth and garlic

Firakh - Chicken grilled or stewed and served with vegetables

Fatta - Mutton or chicken stew, cooked with bread

Hamam mashwi - Grilled pigeon

Kibda - Liver

Samak mashwi - Grilled fish served with salad, bread and dips

Tagen - Meat, Fish or Vegetables cooked in a spicy tomato sauce.




Mahallabiyya - Sweet rice or cornflour pudding, topped with pistachios

Balila - Milk dish with nuts, raisins and wheat

Baklava - Flaky filo pastry, honey and nuts

Basbousa - Pastry of semolina, honey and nuts

Omm Ali - Filo pastry soaked in milk, sugar, raisins, coconut and cinnamon




Salad - Salata

Onion - Basal

Carrots  -  Gazar

Okra (ladies' fingers) - Baamya

Peas - Bisilla

Potatoes - Bataatis

Rice  -  Ruz

Aubergine  -  Bidingaan

Bread - ‘Aish or Khobs 

Butter - Zibda

Eggs - Beyd

Fish - Samak

Cheese - Gibna

White Cheese - Gibna beyda

Honey   -  ‘Asal

Meat - Lahma

Chicken - Firakh

Ice Cream  - Gelati or ays krim

Cream - ‘Ishta

Bananas - Mawz

Dates - Balah

Figs - Teen

Peanuts - Fuul sudaani

Pepper  -  Filfil

Salt  -  Melh

Sugar - Sukkar


Glass - Khubbaaya

Fork  -  Showka

Knife  -  Sikkeena

Spoon  -  Malat'a



Tea  -  Shay

Mint Tea  -  Shay bi-na‘ana

Tea with milk  -  Shay bi-laban

Milk  -  Laban

Coffee - Akhwa (usually Turkish)

Instant Coffee - Akhwa fransawi

Water - My-ya

Mineral Water  -  Myya ma‘adaneh-ya

Beer  -  Beera

Wine  -  Nibeet

Sugar Cane Juice  -  ‘Aseer asab

Orange Juice  -  ‘Aseer burtu'an

Lemon Juice  -  ‘Aseer limoon

Hibiscus Juice / Tea  -  Karkaday




Ayyzeen el-menu min fadlak  - The menu please

Ana makulsh …   -  Can't  / don't eat …

Bidoon sukkar   -  Without sugar

‘Ey da?  -   What is this?

Da mush …   -  This is not …

                                        … taaza … fresh

                                        … lahm … meat

                                        … mistiwi kwayyis … cooked enough

Da lazeez awi   -  This is very tasty

Iddini/iddina …  Please can we have:-

                                           ... El-hisaab, minfadlak (m) / minfadlik (f) The bill, please

                                           … taba' … a plate

                                           … futa … a napkin

Ana Nabati (m) or Ana Nabatiya (f)  - To let the waiter know you are a vegetarian



وَاحٍدْ - ١ - Wahid - One

إِثْنَيْن - ٢ - Ithnain - Two

ثَلاَثَة - ٣ - Thalatha - Three

أَرْبَعة - ٤ - Arbaa - Four

خَمْسَة - ٥ - Khamsa - Five

سِتَّة - ٦ - Sitta - Six

سَبْعَة - ٧ - Sabaa - Seven

ثَمَانِيَه - ٨ - Thamaniah - Eight

تِسْعَة - ٩ - Disaa - Nine

عَشْرَة - ١٠ - Ashra - Ten



This phonetic guide should help you pronounce the words:

ai -  as in eye

aa  - as in bad but lengthened

aw -  as in rose

'a - glottal stop as in bottle

‘a - as when asked to say ah by the doctor

ey/ay -  as in day

ee -  as in feet

gh -  like the French r (back of the throat)

kh - as in Scottish loch

Note that every letter should be pronounced, and that double consonants should always be pronounced separately.



 More Egyptian Mezze Dishes