Monthly Archives: February 2010

Honey Stella Bread

Inspired by Bisoux at The Great American Breakfast Quest (former Cairene, by the way), I decided to try a Cairo twist on her recipe for Agave Beer Bread.  While she suggests the bread as a perfect activity for those snowed in on the East Coast of the US, ideally paired with blanket fortresses and Scrabble extravaganzas, I didn’t think I could wait till I see snow again to try this creation.  I’ll also have to wait to try her Guinness, Vermot Wheat Beer, and Pennsylvania Lager variations, but that just can’t be helped, so until then, I’ll settle for Stella.

This recipe is for those of you who simply can’t get enough Stella for all the Baladi Bars in Cairo, those who claim Stella runs through your veins, who scoff at foreigner friends’ inquiries of “Oh, do you mean Artois?” – and also for those of you who have admitted to yourself that, garnished with a lemon or not, you’re just holding out for those beers from home, and perhaps “The Taste of Egypt” will taste better baked in the oven.

The advantages of this bread, as Bisoux enthuses, are that it takes just an hour to make – no kneading, rising, or entire afternoons needed.  “It’s a good way to use up those extra bottles of beer leftover after a party. Oh, and it’s pretty much foolproof!”  The crust to this bread is simply divine: thick, crusty, and obviously blessed by the Stella Fairy (surely it’s not due to the amount of butter drizzled on top pre-baking!). The bread itself is somewhere between a traditional savory loaf, and a sweeter, more cake-y bread like banana bread.  Try it with cheese (Egyptian Cheddar is always a good choice), jam, or more butter, perhaps graced by a sprinkling of cinnamon & sugar.

Recipe after the jump.

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Filed under Recipes, Vegetarian

Alfa Beta (Lady) Gaga

Ceremoniously accepting the passing of the torch, we wish TBE the best in his time out of Egypt, and hope he’s remembered to pack enough dried molokheyya.  Meanwhile, we’re glad to serve you up with more restaurant reviews, recipes (healthful, sugar-laden, beer-infused, and everything else we can think of), and the scoop on where to find those hard-to-find ingredients, including the following.

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Oh Alfa Market, you chamber of secrets, you hidden temple of wonders.  Last week I found bok choy and fresh bean sprouts in the vegetable aisle, and this week?  Lemongrass!  Pair that with the tamarind nabbed from the Asian foods section, and I feel some Thai dishes coming on.  I’ve heard legends of tofu hidden amongst the leafiness of vegetabledom in Alfa, but my searches have yet to be met with success.  The Asian foods shelf is bountifully stocked, however, featuring rice noodles, dried seaweed, tapioca pearls, a variety of pastes and sauces, and more.  Fans of Mexican fare can also find tortillas here, both soft flour tortillas and hard corn tortilla shells.

Thusly: the upside of Alfa includes the existence of foods I dared not hope could be found in Cairo.  The downside: availability / reliability… I’m still dreaming of the day when I can find bok choy, sprouts, tofu, and lemongrass all on the same trip to the store.

Lemongrass: 7 le
Tamarind: 10 le

Alfa Market is located in Zamalek, on 4 El Malek El Afdal St. Pass the moat, Olmec, and the Steps of Knowledge; beside the Supreme Council of Antiquities.  Alternatively, if you’re heading towards Mohandiseen on 26th of July, turn right one street after the second Misr gas station (the last street before the bridge) and as the road veers to the left, Alfa Market is on your left.  They deliver.  Tel: 19299, 02-27370805, 02-27370802, 02-27370801

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Filed under Ingredients, Where to Find Ingredients

Changing of the Guard

Food for thought: Lady Gaga video shoot or military pomp and circumstance?

As some of you may know, TBE’s editorial staff has had it up to here with Cairo’s cold, cold weather, and we’re making the move to a warmer climate. Al-Masri al-Yum will soldier on, however, under the stewardship of a new editor, the estimable “Members Only,” whose posts you’ve no doubt been enjoying over the last several days.

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Restaurant Review: Shiraz is not a wine in Australia

As any princess of power will tell you, Iranian food is quite delicious. It was with that in mind that our correspondent “Members Only” (name change pending) took a recent meal at Cairo’s hottest Iranian restaurant. Her review follows.

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As Craig David once inquired rhetorically: “What’s your flava?  Tell me, what’s your flava?” Well Craig, we’re digging the flavors at the Iranian restaurant Shiraz, in Mohandiseen.  Iranian food tends to incorporate aromatic flavors like saffron, pistachio, and rosewater, yet does not shy away from stronger tangy flavors like lemon and pomegranate syrup.  We were impressed with the variety of flavors that each held up on their own and also worked well together, a marker of a good restaurant.  Don’t expect to find spicy dishes, but do expect some surprising yet rewarding flavor combinations.

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Tasting Notes: EuroDeli French Fries

French Fry Schwarma

We here at al-Masri al-Yum have a well-known love for potato products in almost all of their guises, and french fries have pride of place in our list of potato-based dishes we love. For being a city with a very high rate of french fries per capita, however, Cairo is startingly bereft of outlets serving good-quality fries. Which brings us to EuroDeli.

EuroDeli is famous for at least three things: It is, along with Arabica, one of the few remaining outlets in Zamalek (and the city) that offers free wireless to its patrons; it has a decent chocolate cake, preferably a la mode; and, it serves some of the best french fries in the city. Now, their steak cut will certainly preclude them passing the lips of those who prefer their fries model-thin, and the french-fry-to-dipping-sauce ratio may be all askew (advantage french fries) and the price for an extra serving of said sauce outrageously high, but they also represent excellent value for money if one is willing to forego the extra sauce, and they do have a flavor unmatched in the annals of recent Egyptian frenchfryology.

Notes and addenda:

As with all French fries, those available at EuroDeli are a dish best served hot. As such, ordering them for delivery is best avoided.

We have heard, but cannot confirm, that Café Versailles, by the AUC Hostel, also has excellent french fries.

For those with a more internationalist perspective, MY has been regaled by correspondent TA with tales of the amazing french fry culture in Pakistan. Although she bemoans the fact that chains like One Potato Two Potato have commercialized the french fry trade and subsequently squeezed out smaller, superior producers found in places like Lahore’s Liberty Square, she still maintains that Pakistan’s french fry vendors could teach their Egyptian cousins a thing or two about the proper frying of potatoes. With that and Gamal Eddin al-Afghani in mind we call for a pan-Islamic pact of french fry friendship, so that best practices and superior frymanship reign from Parsley Island to Peshawar, Aghadir to Aceh.

Please see this old TBE post for a short discussion of Heinz ketchup in Egypt and a link to the best thing Malcolm Gladwell has ever written.


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Filed under 4 Daily Consumption, Cairo, Proof a Middle Class Exists, Restaurant Reviews

“Whitey” Bulgur Kefteh

Howie Carr is a horrible person, but the story of the Bulger brothers is fascinating.

Al-Masri al-Yum readers clamoring for healthful alternatives having reached an all time high, we reached out to our correspondents to provide them with that for which they’ve been clamoring. “Members Only” Jaquette here offers a healthful (and vegan, for those keeping track) alternative to al-Masri al-Yum’s usual fare.

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Certain things are predictable: the presence of at least one person you know in Horeyya on any given night, that party boats on the Nile will always be playing the “El-3aineb” song by Saad el-Sagheer (I shouldn’t knock, that’s how I learned my first colors in Arabic), that requests to unsubscribe from Cairoscholars will be sent to the list, and that every couple months I will suddenly lose taste for all the recipes I usually cook. The quest for new flavors usually starts with feverish internet browsing, which leads to kitchen experimentation, which most recently has lead to this gem of a recipe: Bulgur, Pumpkin and Chard Kefteh.

For all you with more savory hankerings than sweet teeth, this recipe is quick, healthy, and delicious – plus none of the ingredients require a trip to Metro, Alfa, or the like. The Cairo version is adopted from this recipe for Bulgur and Winter Squash Kefteh (thanks NYT!) and fulfills a craving for whole grains and dark leafy greens.  Those are the kinds of food cravings I fall victim to, at least.

Recipe after the jump.

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Brown Sugar

A while back we made congo bars, and we were planning to post about it, but we were forced against our collective will to use dark brown sugar, which has a heady, dank molasses flavor to it, overpowering the subtle interplay of butter, chocolate chips and walnuts that characterizes that baked good. Thus we abstained from posting.

Molasses is one of those ingredients that provokes strong reactions, most people either love it or hate it. As charter members of the lesslasses club, we come down on the latter side of the great molasses debate.

All of which is a roundabout way of revealing that we found light brown sugar, in Maadi of all places. It can be found at the supermarket on the left corner right at the beginning of Road 9 when one is coming from the Maadi proper metro stop, or at Miriam Market, at or near the intersection of Roads 205 and 253 in Degla.

Miriam Market also stocks red food coloring, which our red velvet-loving friends assure us is very difficult to procure in Cairo.

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