Category Archives: Pharaoh’s Friday

Pharaohs’ Friday #7: Meatless ‘Meatballs’ (Kofta)

It’s Friday again!  And that means it’s time for us to share another veganized Egyptian food with you, dear reader.  If you are experimenting with vegan food, transitioning to a vegan diet, or just want to indulge in an old favorite in a more compassionate way, you’ll love this recipe.

This recipe is the Egyptian-style meat ball without the meat.  It can be served plain (for sandwiches, etc.), as we have done here, or with a tomato sauce, which we will post soon.

Makes about 40 balls
2 cups dehydrated textured vegetable protein (TVP)
2 cups water
1 vegetable bouillon cube

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, shredded
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint (or ½ tablespoon dried)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley (or ½ tablespoon dried)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1 cup rice, soaked and ground

Oil for frying

Prepare the TVP
1.  Heat the 2 cups of water and the vegetable bouillon cube to boiling.
2.  Add the water / bouillon stock to the 2 cups of TVP in a bowl.  Leave to expand for 15 minutes.

3.  In a skillet, heat the olive oil.  Saute the onion and garlic for about 2 minutes.
4.  Add the mint and parsley to the onion mix and cook for another minute.
5.  Add the TVP and stir until well combined.

6.  Add the soy sauce, salt, and pepper to the mix and keep cooking until browned.  This will be about 5 minutes.

Prepare the Rice
7.  Soak the rice for 15 minutes.

8.  Drain and then grind until almost powdery.

9.  Add to the TVP mixture and mix well.

Prepare the Kofta Mix
(If baking, preheat the oven to 400ºF, 200ºC, or gas mark 6.)
10.  Once you have added the rice, put the entire mix (in 2 groups) into the food processor.  Process until well mixed and thoroughly combined.

11.  Shape the kofta mix into small balls, longer “hot dog” shapes or even burgers.

12.  You can either bake or fry these!  If you fry them, fry for about 6 minutes, turning once halfway through.  If you bake them, bake for about 20 minutes on an oiled pan.  Turn once halfway through.

Nutrition information (for 1 of 40 balls)
Calories: 48, Cholesterol: 0 g, Fat: 1 g; Carbohydrates: 6 g; Fiber: 1 g; Protein: 3 g

Alf Hana!!!


Pharaohs’ Friday #6: Vegan Hawowshi (Pita Pockets with *Meaty* Filling)

Making the decision to add more plant foods to your diet doesn’t mean you have to give up your familiar favorites.  In Egypt, one favorite is known as “Hawowshi”.  It’s basically spicy ground meat in an easy-to-eat sandwich form, using the tasty whole wheat Egyptian balady bread, of course.  Many of our meat-eating friends never imagined we could veganize this recipe, but we did it – and it was delicious!!!

Serves 6-8
For the mix:
2 ½ cups TVP (textured vegetable protein)
2 ½ cups water
1 vegetable bouillon cube

3 onions, minced
3 dried red peppers, minced
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ tablespoon salt
½ tablespoon black pepper
3 tablespoons soy sauce

5 rounds balady bread (or pita)
more oil for brushing sandwiches

Prepare the TVP
1.  Heat the water and the bouillon cube until boiling.
2.  In a bowl, pour the broth over the TVP and let sit for at least 5 minutes.

3.  Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 or 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius.

Prepare the mix
4.  Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil until they are translucent, about 3 minutes.

5.  Add salt, black pepper, and red pepper.  Cook for another 3 minutes.

6.  Add the rehydrated TVP to the onion mix and cook for another 3 minutes.
7.  Add the soy sauce, stir frequently and cook until browned.

8.  Take the mix off the fire and let cool.

Prepare the sandwiches
9.  Cut each of the rounds into half (I use scissors to do this – it’s so much easier… 🙂  (Acutally, we used frozen rounds that we thawed by putting in a warm oven for about 3 minutes.  This prevents them from sticking together.  But, fresh is even better…)

10.  Put about 3 large spoons of mix into each of the halves.  You should be able to fill 10 halves.

11.  Using a brush, oil the outsides of the sandwich lightly.  I also add a little on the top where it opens.

12.  Place on a cookie sheet or other flat tray and cook for 10-15 minutes or until crispy on the outside.

Nutritional Information: (for half of the large-size whole wheat pita/balady bread)
Calories: 256, Fat: 9 g; Cholesterol: 0g; Carbohydrates: 30 g; Fiber: 7g; Protein: 15 g

Alf Hana!!!

Pharaohs’ Friday #5 Fried Bean Delights (Tameya)

We have always had a plethora of recipes for “falafel”.  For the most part, most of these recipes are based on the Lebanese version of falafel that uses chick peas (or garbanzo peas) as a base.  However, the Egyptian version (known as tameya) uses fava beans as its base.  Also, tameya always looks a bit greener on the inside than falafel because the recipe uses a bit more greens (yeah!).

Honestly, we have always been wary of making our own tameya for two reasons.  1.  It’s a deep-fried food and we only eat those on special occasions! 😉

2.  There are so many places in Cairo that make tameya, it just seemed unnecessary.

Well, now it’s time we make our own tameya!  And boy, was it worth it!!!  Not only did this recipe have just the right amount of seasoning, making it the perfect treat for a special breakfast – but it looked like the restaurant versions, too!!!  Our friends couldn’t believe it was homemade!!!  So, here it is:

Depending on the size of your shapes, this recipe will make 30 patties.

½ kilo of shelled and separated fava beans

The shelled and separated fava beans are sold like this.

water to cover the beans for soaking
1 ½ cups of onions, chopped (about 2 onions)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
3 tablespoons leek, chopped
4 ½ cloves of fresh garlic, minced
2 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
⅜ teaspoon hot red pepper
⅜ teaspoon baking soda
sesame seeds for dipping
oil for frying

1.  Soak the beans for at least 12 hours.

Shelled and separated beans before soaking

Shelled and separated fava beans after soaking

2.  Drain the beans and put aside in a large bowl.
3.  Wash and chop onions, parsley, coriander, dill, leek, and garlic.

4.  Put half the beans, and half of each of the onions, parsley, coriander, dill, leek and garlic in the food processor bowl.  Mix on high speed.  Stop and scrape down the mix and mix again.  Keep doing so until the mix becomes very fine.

5.  Do the same with the other half of the beans, onions, parsley, coriander, dill, leek and garlic.
6.  With the both halves of the mix in a large bowl, add the salt, pepper, hot red pepper, and baking soda.  Mix well.
7.  At this point, you can go ahead with the next steps, or if you like, you can separate the mix into small bags and freeze it so you can make it later.
8.  When you’re ready to fry the tameya, shape the patties as you like ahead of time.  The traditional way is to shape them in small balls or in patties.

Small balls without sesame

9.  If you’d like, you can add sesame seeds to the balls or patties on the outside.  The easiest way is: as you shape the ball or patty, dip your hand into the seeds and gently push them into the ball or patty.

Patties with sesame before frying (these were our guests' favorites!)

10.  Using a large skillet, fill it with enough oil to have about 1 and ½ inches of oil (or about 4 cm).  Heat the oil.  You can tell the oil is at the right temperature by putting a tiny bit of the mix into the oil.  If the oil bubbles around the outside of the mix, you know you’re ready to start frying.
11.  Fry the tameya in groups.  It should take about 5 minutes to finish cooking.  Use a spatula that has holes to flip the tameya half-way through cooking.  You can be sure that the tameya is finished when it has turned a dark reddish brown on both sides.  Once the patty or ball is done, use the spatula and gently shake off the extra oil by shaking it on the side of the skillet.  Place the ball or patty in a flat plate covered with paper to absorb the extra oil.


Serving Suggestions and Variations:
– Eat as a sandwich with balady bread.
– Serve with tahina, babaganoug, tomatoes with garlic, cucumbers or any assorted salads including pickled carrots, onions, radishes, etc.
– Some people like to break up the tameya and sprinkle it on their bowl of simmered fava beans.
– Others add fried eggplant, simmered fava beans, fried potatoes and tameya to one sandwich for a super crazy Middle-Eastern sandwich.
– Try a healthier version by baking the balls or patties.  It won’t turn brown, and there won’t be much fat, but I think it still tastes good!

Here's our attempt at baking them....

Nutrition Information: (1 of 30)
Calories: 121; Fat: 8 g; Cholesterol: 0 g; Carbohydrates: 9 g; Fiber: 4 g; Protein: 4 g

Pharaoh’s Friday #4: Egyptian Potato Salad

This is one of those dishes we always find in traditional Egyptian restaurants. I really like it (remember I’m a potato freak!), so  this is our attempt to replicate it at home. If I may say so myself, it is quite a success – even better than the restaurant versions! 😉

Remember, the trick to any good potato salad is the perfect amount of boiling time. You don’t want the potatoes to be so soft that they fall apart or not ‘done’ enough so they’re hard. Use your fork as a tester!

Serves 2-4 people

3 medium potatoes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons of corn oil
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
2 teaspoons of salt (or to your liking)
½ teaspoon of pepper (or to your liking)
1 teaspoon of cumin
3 tablespoons of parsley, chopped

1.  Wash and chop the potatoes into large quarters.  Boil for about 30 minutes, or until a fork easily enters and exits the largest quarter.

2.  Drain the boiled potatoes and let cool.
3.  When the potatoes are cool enough to touch, skin them with a knife.  Then, cut the potatoes into bite-size cubes.

4.  In a small bowl, mix the minced garlic, oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and cumin.

Gently stir into the potatoes.
5.  Add the parsley.

Nutrition Information (1 of 4 servings):

Calories: 208, Fat: 11 g; Cholesterol: 0 g; Carbohydrates: 26 g; Fiber: 3 g; Protein: 3 g

Serving Suggestions and Variations:
– We like to eat this warm, on the same day it’s made, but you can also serve it refrigerated or at room temperature.
– Adjust the salt and pepper to suit your tastes.

Alf Hana!!!

Pharaoh’s Friday #3: Egyptian Shortbread Cookies (Ghoreiyba)

I love cookies.  I can’t get enough of them.  Chocolate, chewy, crunchy, decorated, soft, with chips, with nuts, with fruits, ….oh, the varieties!

These little cookies are an Egyptian treasure.  They just melt in your mouth. Usually made around feast times, they’re kind of hard to find any other time of year.  And, of course, you rarely ever find a plant-based version that is cholesterol free!!!!  But, ours are!!!

This recipe is adapted from Sweets of Arabia by Osama El Sayed.


1 cup non-dairy butter
½ cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda

1.  Preheat oven to 170 C or 350 F or gas mark 5.
2.  In bowl of food processor, cream butter with powdered sugar and vanilla on medium speed.
3.  Mix flour with baking soda and beat into butter mixture on low speed.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Before mixing

After mixing

4.  Shape dough into balls and place on a baking sheet.  This may take some time.  Try to make the balls as smooth as possible.  If topping with nuts, lightly press thumb into center of each ball and top with one whole nut.

Rolled in balls

5.  Bake for 15 minutes, until firm but not brown.
6.  Let cool and then indulge!

Serving Suggestions and Variations:

  • top with chopped or whole nuts
  • sprinkle with cocoa
  • sprinkle with cinnamon
  • drizzle melted chocolate in thin lines across the cookie

Nutrition information (for 1 cookie):

Calories: 56, Fat: 3g; Cholesterol: 0g; Carbohydrates: 7g; Fiber: 0g; Protein: 1g

Alf Hana!!!

Vegan Egyptian “Meat” Pie (Rou’ak)

When I first came to Egypt, I was not yet vegan.  I tried everything everyone put in front of me and I liked almost all of it.  Ru’ak (a pie made with ground meat and cracker-like sheets) was one of my favorites.  But since we have become vegan, we have not tried to make ru’ak with plant-based alternatives – until now!!!  Now that we know where to find textured vegetable protein and how to use it, it’s a cinch!

Hold on to your taste buds, this is a delicious dish that even some of our meat-eating taste testers couldn’t tell was vegan!  So, here goes…

This recipe is adapted from My Egyptian Grandmother’s Kitchen by Magda Mehdawy.

For the filling:
2 ½ cups of TVP
2 ¼ cups of water

2 large onions
1 tablespoon nondairy butter (samna nebety will work)
1 cup water
2 vegetable bouillon cubes, crumbled
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 teaspoon pepper

For the broth mix:
4 cups of water
1 vegetable bouillon cube
½ cup nondairy milk (we used soy)
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup nondairy butter (or samna nebety)
½ kilo of rou’ak crackers (1 package)

Preheat the oven to 375 degree F (190 degrees C, or gas mark 5).
Prepare the TVP.
1.  Soak the 2 ½ cups of dried TVP in 2 ¼ cups of water for about 5 minutes.



Prepare the filling.
2.  Finely chop the onion and fry it in the nondairy butter (or samna nebety) until translucent.

3.  Add the TVP and fry for a few minutes until the TVP starts to brown slightly.
4.  Add the bouillon cubes, soy sauce and pepper.  Cook about 2 minutes.
5.  Add the 1 cup of water and continue frying until the water is absorbed.

Prepare the broth mix.
6.  Heat the 4 cups of water and the bouillon cube.  Add the nondairy milk, salt, pepper and only 2 tablespoons of nondairy butter.

Prepare the pie.
7.  Melt the rest of the nondairy butter and coast the bottom of a circular pan.
8.  Working one sheet of rou’ak at a time, place one sheet in the bottom of the pan.  Pour a bit of the broth mix enough to wet the sheet.  Sprinkle a bit of the melted nondairy butter on top.

This is how you can find rou'ak in the supermarket.

The sheets are covered with paper and here are they are after opened.

The first sheet

Pouring on the broth mix.

9.  Add another sheet.  Pour a bit of broth mix.  Sprinkle a bit of nondairy butter.  Continue until you have used up half the package of rou’ak (about 5 sheets).
10.  Spread the filling mix on top of the stacked sheets.

11.  Top the filling with another sheet of rou’ak.  Wet with the broth, sprinkle with the nondairy butter.  Continue until you use all the sheets (about 5 more sheets).

12.  When the pie is complete, sprinkle the top with some more melted nondairy butter.
13.  Bake for about 30 minutes.  Cut and serve.  *It will be a bit difficult to cut smoothly, so take your time.

Nutrition Information (for 1 piece of 8 )

Calories: 435; Fat: 4 g; Cholesterol: 0 g; Carbohydrates: 70 g; Fiber: 9 g; Protein: 28 g

Alf Hana!!!

Pharaoh’s Friday #1 Breakfast Wheat (Bileela)

During the month of November, Alf Hana participated in Vegan MoFo.  We spent a month veganizing your favorite Egyptian recipes.  It was a lot of fun, so much so that we decided to set up a regular post for Fridays called “Pharaoh’s Friday”, where we would continue to post veganized versions of popular Egyptian foods.  It’s taken us a while to get started, but here is our first installment of Pharaoh’s Friday!!!!

Who doesn’t love to have something warm for breakfast during the winter months?  One of my favorites is oatmeal!  However, oatmeal is not well-known in Egypt (although it is relatively easy to find!).  If Egyptians are not having foul for  a warm breakfast, then it will be billeela.

Bileela is basically slow-cooked whole wheat.  You can find the whole wheat in packages readily available in stores.  Here’s what it looks like up close:

One of the benefits of eating bileela is that it is a whole food and is full of nutrition!!  In fact, here is an image from Wikipedia that helps explain the insides of the whole wheat grain.

Now, I have finally bought a demassa (the Egyptian version of a slow cooker)!!!! I LOVE IT!!!  Check it out!  Isn’t it cute?

Yes, we have made foul and lentils with our demassa and we also used it to make our bileela!  Here’s the recipe:


1 cup dried whole wheat grain
4 cups water


1.  Plug in the hot plate of the demassa (with the Egyptian demassa, the hot plate is separate from the silver pot and needs to be heated up first).
2.  Add the wheat and the water to the silver pot.  Put the pot on a regular stove eye.  Heat on medium heat until boiling.
3.  Once the mix is boiling, transfer the pot onto the hot plate.  Leave to cook for about 90 minutes.  Stir every half hour or fifteen minutes or so, just to be sure the bileela doesn’t start to stick to the bottom of the silver pot.

Before adding milk or spices


2/3 cup of whole wheat, 1/4 cup soy milk, 1 teaspoon of sugar: just the way we like it!


Serving Suggestions and Variations:
Add water or non-dairy milk.
Add sugar.
Add cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, or other spices.
Add raisins, dried dates, or other dried fruits you like.
If you don’t have a demassa or a slow cooker, you could probably do the same in a regular pot with a lid.

Alf Hana!!!