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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"You've got the spinach so why don't you cook it?"
Some of our readers have complained in the offline comment section of which our aura consists that al-Masri al-Yum is overly devoted to recipes containing inordinate amounts of sugar or cream and other ingredients that the more healthful and/or philistine amongst us abhor. Before another bout of clothes-renting and assaults on our “I’m not rich but my food is” bumper sticker philosophy, please be advised that we are lining up some contributors that promise much healthier fare, including an adherent to the mysterious cult of raw food currently sweeping Egypt and the world. At any rate, creamed spinach is at least half healthy. It’s a frisson, mayne!
Recipe after the jump.
The "gesture everyone seems to interpret differently," Fox News' E.D. Hill said: "A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab?"
For a long time we were afraid of baking. But because we have wicked sweet teeth and tire of eating Roz bi-Laban from Abu Tarek and McDonald’s caramel sundaes (not to demean their achievements in their respective fields), we got over our fear of exact measurements and took to the oven. It turns out that baking is not that hard.
But it does require some special equipment, unless you have really strong arms and an iron will. Since we’re 0 for 2, we were exceedingly happy when the reigning queen of Cairo baking bequeathed her mixer (to which some of you might refer as a “hand mixer”) to TBE HQ upon her departure to more blustery climes. To say that owning a mixer has revolutionized our life would be an overstatement, but to say it has revolutionized that part of our life that involves baking would be a patent truthhood. Therefore we suggest that you buy one immediately if you haven’t done so already.
So that’s our baking spiel. Basically it’s a field of cooking endeavor with high fixed sunk costs, but we can almost guarantee that your enterprise will enjoy many happy returns.
With that we turn to today’s featured recipe, which some amongst you may know as pound cake, but which we refer to by the more evocative title given above, since everyone knows terrorists have been trying to get their hands on this yellow cake for years, they hate us for our baked goods, etc.
Our recipe is adapted for Cairo from this one from the Smitten Kitchen, our favorite recipe blog. We made it in this loaf pan, which might not be available in Egypt but if you’re on the market we suggest El-Ebiary.
One additional note: Your correspondent is a notorious lover of rich foods, and even he found this cake rich, since it consists almost entirely of butter and sugar. So a loaf will probably feed more people than one would expect from its diminutivish size.
Recipe after the jump.
Sir Francis Bacon
Don’t call it a comeback, but it looks as though pork might be returning to Egypt.