Sesame seeds, sesame oil, tahini… these are just a few of the foodstuffs that come from the amazing sesame plant. With a wonderful nutty taste and great nutritional benefits, it’s no surprise that the sesame would earn a spot on the Cairo Kitchen hall of fame.
We love garnishing some of our salads, like the green bean salad and the carrot salad, with a good dash of sesame seeds. They add an extra dimension of texture and flavor to the dishes, with a bit of a crunchy and savory kick.
But all over Egypt, the sesame is found in different types of food…
Simit, round bagel-shaped bread that comes to us from Turkey, is always covered in generous amounts of sesame seeds – which then toast nicely in the oven. Halawa is a delicious tahini-based sweet, and tahini is basically pureed sesame seeds usually used as a dip. Semsemeya is a favorite Mouled El Naby sweet made with whole sesame seeds.
Let’s take a closer look at this very versatile ingredient.
Although cheese-making predates recorded history, with historians still unsure just how far back the practice goes or even where it first began, we know that it’s been around since at least 6000 BC.
Milking cattle is an ancient practice… and we don’t need to mention how it was discovered. But how we went from drinking milk to making cheese seems to have been quite the accident!
Legend has it that as travellers began transporting milk with them in bags made of animal intestines, something interesting happened. The enzymes in the intestines began to curdle the milk, which would later on become the purposeful technique of renneting, and the movement of the bags being carried around started to separate the curdled pieces from the leftover whey liquid.
They say that when the travellers stopped to drink the contents of the bag, they found the solid curdled mass amid the refreshing whey drink. They realized that not only was it edible, it could last longer than fresh milk, especially in the hotter climates. These nomads then went back and shared this amazing discovery with their tribesmen…
…and the practice of making cheese was born.
Egyptians do love their soft drinks like Cola, etc… we were obsessed with Vimto back in the day as well (remember Vimto?). But the most common drink amongst Egyptians has to be black tea. And not just any black tea – it has to be loose leaf, strong, and full of sugar.
Go anywhere in Egypt, even in the middle of the hottest months, and you’ll see men, women, and even children drinking strong black tea. Day or night, even before bed, you’ll see Egyptians getting their fix of strong black tea. It’s quite the tradition… you’d think we invented it when in fact we adopted this ritual from East Asia.
But for today, let’s take a look at less common yet also very traditional drinks that appear much more during the month of Ramadan.
The Date Palm tree, called Phoenix dactylifera, is native to the Middle East and has been cultivated in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and ancient Arabia as far back as 4000-6000 BC.
The name “dactylifera” comes from the ancient Greek words dáktulos meaning “date” (also “finger”) and the stem of the Greek verb ferō meaning “I bear”. Put together, it means date-bearing…
And so, to honor Ramadan and the special place dates have in Ramadan traditions, we dedicate this post to the amazing little fruit that can do so much.
We’re happy that it’s that special time of year again when seeing family and relatives is almost an everyday affair, and feeling more connected to each other and sharing our meals comes naturally. Of course all the delicious dishes related to this holy month are a major plus too!
We hope you’ll join us for iftar or sohour at CK with your family this Ramadan – we have soups, salads, and home-cooked style meals. We also have lots of Ramadan drinks, like Sobia, that are perfect for quenching your thirst in this heat.