In Cairo and in the mood to binge on some desserts? Or do you simply want to end your meal with a sweet touch? Well, this guide is for you. Egyptian desserts use a lot of milk products and rose water. It’s all so rich and authentic that you just cannot get enough of them. So after your delicious meals in Cairo, you need to try these traditional desserts.
Om Ali literally translates to “Ali’s mother” and is one of the most popular traditional Egyptian desserts. There are numerous variations of this with different compositions. Typically, a pastry is divided into pieces and blended with pistachios, coconut flakes, raisins and plenty of sugar. Milk, sometimes with cream, is poured over the mixture, which is then sprinkled with cinnamon. It may be eaten hot or cold. The dish may be compared to bread and butter pudding.
Feteer meshaltet, literally “cushioned pies”, is a flaky Egyptian layered pastry. It consists of many thin layers of dough and ghee and an optional filling. The fillings can be both sweet or savory. Sweet fillings may include cheese, coconut, mehalabiya, malban, Nutella or chocolate.
Basbousa or Hareeseh is a traditional Middle Eastern sweet cake. It is made from a semolina batter and sweetened with orange flower water or simply rose water and lemon syrup. The cake is basically drenched in syrups. It is rich in calories and can be served cold or warm.
Kanafeh is a dessert made with thin noodle-like pastry, or alternatively, fine semolina dough, soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup, and typically layered with cheese, or with other ingredients such as clotted cream or nuts. Often, the top layer of the pastry is tinted with red food coloring.
Zalabia or Luqmat al qadi is the traditional version of a jalebi. It consists of a yeast dough fried and then dipped in a syrup of honey and rose water. They are made from a batter composed of eggs, flour, and milk, and then cooked in oil. Unlike jalebi, zalabia may have a different shape, more like a free-form doughnut or a ball and it may contain cinnamon, lemon, and powdered sugar.
Roz Bel Laban
Roz Bel Laban is served as dessert. In the Egyptian dialect, Ros means rice and Laban means milk. It is Cairo’s traditional rice pudding. Roz Bel Laban can be sprinkled with cinnamon and is served chilled. Vanilla or rose water can be used for flavoring as well.
Qatayef or Katayef is an Arab dessert commonly served during the month of Ramadan. It is a sort of sweet dumpling filled with cream or nuts. It can be described as a folded pancake. The batter is usually made out of flour, baking powder, water, yeast, and sometimes sugar is added. The pastry is filled with either unsalted sweet cheese or a mixture of any of hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, raisins, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, roses extract and cinnamon. It is then deep-fried and served with a hot-sweet syrup or sometimes honey.
Kahk directly translates to “cake”. It is a small circular biscuit eaten by Egyptians to celebrate Eid-al-Fitr and Easter. It is covered with powdered sugar and can be stuffed with agameya (a mixture of honey, nuts, and ghee), lokum, walnuts, pistachios, or dates, or simply served plain.
Sahlab / Salep
Salep is a flour particularly used to make a variety of desserts. Sahlab drink is a smooth milk pudding that will sure warm you up during the cold winter days. It is made by stirring milk with some sugar and the flour, which is extracted from a particular flower and gives the drink its characteristic creaminess and fluffiness. The beverage sahlab is often made with hot milk instead of water. Other desserts made from salep flour are salep pudding and salep ice cream.