ALEXANDRIA, Egypt – 21 June 2017: It is easy to be vegetarian in Egypt. The sun shining most days of the year, the sweet water of River Nile flowing, and farmers with ancient knowledge of agriculture inherited from their ancestors, the country produces delicious fruits and vegetables and offers meals that mainly depend on vegetables.
“What we are used to is not necessarily what we find at travel destinations.
If we insist on having what we do at home, then it is most likely we would be disappointed. But isn’t travel about tasting different flavors the world has to offer?
Why have the same and familiar when we can explore and treat our taste buds and nostrils to different textures, flavors and tastes?” said Monika Sleszynska, a veggie Polish traveler who has been coming to Egypt since 2012.
Vegan meal with a sea view served at the beach restaurant in Sinai -Monika Sleszynska
Finding a middle ground between what she is used to and the local food in Egypt has been possible by a few questions to the locals and doing a little research on what to do with it, Sleszynsia told Egypt Today.
2 - Vegan meal with a sea view served at the beach restaurant in Sinai - Monika Sleszynska
The climate in Egypt offers a rich variety of fresh fruit, which taste cannot be beaten by the transported versions, neither can be the price, she emphasized.
At a very good price, you can have your daily plate of vegetables, lentils, beans, roots, herbs, healthy oils and fruits. Just go to the nearest local market and you will never leave empty handed.
Whether it is a Smoothie, full salad plate, Sautéed or grilled vegetables or cooked delicacy soup, a rich variety is always there for you all year round. Catch them early in the morning and you get the crunchiest bites.
Eggplants, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, okras, potatoes and beat roots are examples of vegetables Egypt generously offers.
Oils and butters
Although many vegetarians do not overuse oils, Egypt is full of a variety of healthy vegetables oils; olive oil, sesame oil, sunflower seed oil, flax seeds oil, cotton oil, peanut butter and sesame paste.
Beans and lentils
Hummus, black beans, yellow lentil, black lentil, kidney beans are the best known and grown in Egypt.
Apart from short grain rice and wheat, barley is one crop that grows well almost everywhere on Earth, and Egypt is not an exception.
Well known for its calming effects, Bedouins make crushed whole seeds of barley as a main source of carbohydrates along with rice and whole grain bread.
Mint, basil, thyme, lemon grass, rosemary, hibiscus, liquorice will definitely make your herbal infusions and grilled vegetables more rich and calming.
Mangoes, with a wide variety, are one kind of fruit that is arguably the tastiest in Egypt. “Alfons, Ewes, Fuss, Zebdeya,” to name a few are amongst the finest.
Oranges and citric fruits, grapes, figs, prickly pear, cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelons, dates and bananas are examples of juicy, sweet fruits present in Egypt. You will not think again of the health risks of adding sugar to your juices and fruit salad plates.
Dried fruits are also an option found at supermarkets in delicious energy snack bars. Pared with nuts, dried figs, dates and grapes are the most known.
Shops and street food guide
The attar, is a shop that sells herbs, oils, ground seeds and dried roots. It has a natural remedy for almost every ailment, but if you just want to have a rich variety that will make your baked goodies, drink, tastier and more nutritious, drop by one especially in the older towns of Cairo, Alexandria and Port Said.
Brown sugar cones, golden berries, grilled corn, sweet potatoes, prickly pears and lupines are common street food that serves as perfect snacks for a busy vegetarian.
Juices are basically everywhere in Egypt, squeezed fresh in front of you. Sugarcane juice is the most refreshing sweet drink you can have, followed by orange or carrot juice, and you can even ask to mix sugarcane with other juices.
Apart from the wide variety of food categories, Egyptians masters how to make it taste great. Check koshary, a plate made mainly of rice, lentils with caramelized onions and red spicy sauce, Mahshy, vegetable stuffed with rice, molokhia, the soup of the Nalta jute leaves, baba ghanoush (a Levantine dish of eggplants and sesame paste also served in Egypt), and Egypt’s famous ful, slow cooked black beans.
3 - Fresh fruit at Cleopatra's market in Alexandria - Monika Sleszynska
“In my experience, the truth is that when the body gets fresher and better quality food, it needs less. This makes Egypt a paradise for vegetarians. The selection changes with season; May is the arrival of fresh mangos and watermelons, and September is the opening season for dates, which you can eat straight from the palm tree, and that can make one wanting to return every year,” Sleszynska said.
4 - Fresh artichokes at Cleopatra's market in Alexandria - Monika Sleszynska
She tried Egyptian dates the first time in Siwa Oasis in the far west of Egypt, where in 2015 the first Palm Date Festival had taken off.
Although mainly vegan, she sometimes convers to vegetarian while in Egypt. Why?
“Because of most heart melting homemade cookies made by Egyptian families, because of the pancakes which I love and Taziry Eco lodge in Siwa makes them in the most deliciously dangerous and irresistible version served with organic divinely tasteful jams of figs, dates and apricots.”
5 - Fresh vegetables, restaurant at Ghaliet Eco lodge in Siwa Oasis - Monika Sleszynska