Second Dynasty Stele copyright Manfred Werner

Unfortunately, the Egyptians did not leave us any recipe books to study. However, we know a great deal about the ingredients that were available to them and many of the most popular modern Egyptian recipes have their origins in the pharaonic period.


Ta’amia was very popular with the Ancient Egyptians and continues to be popular in the Middle East today. It was made with fava beans (broad beads), but these can be replaced with chickpeas to make the well known version of Ta’amia more commonly known as falafel.


  • 1 lb beans soaked overnight and drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1-2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • A pinch of salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Sesame seeds to coat the cakes
  • Olive oil for frying


  1. Ensure the beans are soft and remove their skins. Mix the beans together with all of the ingredients, except the oil and sesame seeds, and either mash or blend them in a food processor until you have a thick paste.
  2. Set the paste aside for 30 minutes to allow the flavours to mix.
  3. Knead the mixture and form into small round cakes about 2cm thick.
  4. Sprinkle each side of the cakes with sesame seeds and shallow fry in hot olive oil for two to three minutes until golden brown.
  5. Serve with flat bread and lettuce tossed in olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper. Alternatively serve with a tahini dip.


Ma’moul are small shortbread pastries filled with fruit or nuts which are popular throughout the Middle East. They are usually filled with figs, dates, pistachios, walnuts, or almonds.

Lebanese Mamoul copyright Fugzu



  • 500g plain flour
  • 250g butter
  • 2 tablespoon orange flower water
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons milk


  • 200g roughly chopped walnuts
  • 150g roughly chopped figs
  • 2 tablespoon orange flower water
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon powder
  • 2 teaspoons fine caster sugar


  1. Rub the butter and flour together until you have fine crumbs. Add the flower water and milk and knead into a pliable dough. Set aside.
  2. Soften the figs with warm water if they are dried. Mix the walnuts and figs to form a fairly fine paste. Add the flower water, cinnamon, and sugar and mix well.
  3. Divide the dough into golf ball sized lumps and flatten into a circle. Drop a tablespoon of the filling into the middle of each circle of dough. Press the edges of the dough together encasing the filling but leaving a small circle of filling visible.
  4. Place the pastries on a greased baking tray and bake for 20-25 minutes in a moderate oven (180C /350F).
  5. Allow to cool before serving.

Tigernut Sweets


  • 200g fresh dates
  • 1 tablespoon Cinnamon powder (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground almonds
  • Honey (acacia honey if possible)
  • A little water


  1. Blend the dates with the water to form a rough paste.
  2. Add the cinnamon (to taste) and chopped walnuts.
  3. Roll the mixture into small balls and coat in honey.
  4. Coat with the ground almonds and serve.

Copyright J Hill 2016