Tag Archives: Cairo

Quesadilla Surprise

The basic foods of many cultures are actually vegan.  From Chinese to Indian to Mexican and Egyptian – you will find that the staples, the traditional foods of many cultures, are usually plant-based.  So it is with Mexican food.  But, if you know what a quesadilla is, you know that it is NOT plant-based.

If you order a quesadilla in a regular Mexican restaurant, you will find a creamy, cheese-filled tortilla with lots of toppings (and sometimes sauces!).  This recipe will give you that creaminess and tang of the cheese without the dairy, cholesterol, and fat!  Best of all, the filling makes it a meal on its own.

***Warning: If you make this for guests – you will NOT have left overs.  This is one of the meals we make a lot for our friends and they absolutely love it!!!

Serves 12 – Click here to download the printer-friendly version.
12 tortillas (You can buy these in major supermarkets [Metro, Royal House, Oscar, Spinneys, etc.] here in Cairo)
1 recipe of refried beans
½ cup hummus (You can make your own or buy ready-made)
½ spicy Mexican tomato salsa (You can find this also in major supermarkets here in Cairo)
oil for frying

1.  On a plate, lay out one tortilla as a base.
2.  Spread a few spoons of the refried beans until the entire side of the tortilla is covered.
3.  Spread another few spoons of the hummus.
4.  Finish by spreading a few spoons of the salsa.
5.  Top with another tortilla.
6.  Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a skillet on medium heat for a few seconds.  Place the prepared quesadilla in the skillet and fry until browned.  This will take 3-5 minutes.
7.  Once the bottom is browned, flip and brown the other side.  This should take another 3 minutes or so.
8.  Remove and slice into 4 pieces with a pizza cutter.

Serving Suggestions and Variations:

  • Serve with guacamole.
  • Serve with salsa on top.
  • Serve with salad on top.
  • Use black beans instead of refried beans.
  • If you want to heat up left-overs, heat them in the oven for about 5 minutes.

Nutrition Information: (1 serving = 2 quarters or one half a quesadilla)
250 Calories; 6 g Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 41 g Carbohydrates; 5 g Fiber; 9g Protein

What do you like to fill your tortillas with? 
Alf Hana!!!

Another Veggie Meetup in Cairo!

Dear readers, if you’re looking for a chance to meet some other vegetarians, learn more, or just have some yummy veggie treats, don’t miss this event!

A potluck will be held by some members of the previous Veggie Fest on Friday, March 18.  There are limited spaces available at the location in Zamalek, so if you want to go, you need to reserve your place today!

Don’t forget to say what you’re bringing when you sign up!

Alf Hana!!!

Veggie Fest Cairo: A community!

Yesterday we attended the first Veggie Fest Cairo.  It was a real blast!!!  With informative speakers, delicious food, some fun artistic expression, and opportunities to make some connections with like-minded folk, it was really a great success.  If you missed it, here’s a little bit about what we experienced:

Three speakers started out the evening, each with their own specific input about vegetarianism.  First, Mr. Ahmed El-Dorghamy, an environmentalist helped us understand about the “life cycle” of our food.   From planting, to packaging, to transporting, to refrigerating, to disposing of our food, each process has an impact on the environment.  Mr. Ahmed encouraged us to buy locally, fresh goods and, of course, to avoid animal products in order for our food to have the least negative environmental impact.  You can find out more by contacting Mr. Ahmed at ahmed_dorghamy(at)yahoo.com or call 0109666240.

Ms. Leslie Zehr also spoke about food and how it affects our bodies.  Focusing on the spiritual aspects of eating, Ms. Leslie emphasized that our bodies are like temples and we need to be more conscious of the choices we make about what goes in them.  What are we putting in our bodies and why?  Where did it come from?  How was it made?  These are all aspects of our food that will affect us and should be part of our food-choosing process.  Another thing we really liked that Ms. Leslie focused on was how preparing food is a sacred experience.  If you’re cooking and you’re angry – better stop because the results may not be so good :)!  If you’re interested in learning more, you can reach Ms. Leslie at www.theessencesofegypt.com, www.egyptianflowerremedies.com, www.universaldancer.com, and lesliezehr(at)yahoo.com.

Finally, Ms. Nadia Montasser, representative of PETA in Egypt, spoke to us about some reasons to try vegetarianism: for our health, for the environment, and for the animals.  She also shared some video and resources for those who are interested.  You can find out more by contacting info(at)petaasiapacific.org or Ms. Nadia directly at nmontasser(at)me.com.

Everyone who attended brought a dish along.  And what a delectable spread it was!!  We always love to share goodies.  Here are the recipes for the vegan delicacies we brought.  Chocolate Chip Cookies,  Apple Cake (muffins), and Vegan sushi.  There was also a live mural, a jam session, and a little poetry….

If you couldn’t make it but would like to find other vegetarians in Egypt, you can connect to the Veggie Fest community in these ways:

Alf Hana!!!

Creamy Tomato Soup

Well, winter has finally arrived in Cairo! That severe sand storm yesterday brought with it the cold weather. What’s the perfect remedy for the cold noses, toes, and fingers?  A warm, rich soup!!!  So, here’s our favorite tomato soup just for you!  It’s low in calories and provides 22% of your recommended daily intake for Vitamin A and 51% for Vitamin C!

Serves 6-8
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
¾ cup celery stalks and leaves
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup water
4 cups tomato juice
½ teaspoon sugar
2 cups non-dairy milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup water
2 tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1.  Heat the oil and add the onions, garlic, and celery.

2.  Cover and cook on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes.
3.  Add the salt, oregano and red pepper flakes.  Cook for another 5 minutes.
4.  Add 1 cup water, tomato juice, and sugar.  Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes on low heat.  Stir occasionally.

5.  Heat the non-dairy milk in a pan until hot but not boiling.
6.  When 25 minutes are up, strain the vegetables and broth through a sieve.  Set the vegetables aside.  [You can use them for any number of other recipes…]

Here's what's left after straining...We're going to use ours for pizza!

7.  Return the broth to the pan.
8.  Mix the all-purpose flour and ¼ cup water until smooth.
9.  Whisk the mixture flour mixture into the broth.

10.  Cook the soup on medium heat until thick.   This should take about 5 minutes.
11.  Add the warmed non-dairy milk.
12.  Add the tomatoes and basil and heat the soup until it is just about to boil.

Serving Suggestions and Variations:
*Serve with garlic bread.  Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, of Compassionate Cooks, has a wonderful recipe in The Vegan Table.
*Add more or remove the red pepper flakes, according to your love of spicy flavors.
*Serve with herbed croutons.

Nutrition Information (275g):
Calories: 92; Fat: 3g; Cholesterol: 0g; Carbohydrates: 15g; Fiber: 2g; Protein: 3g

We veganized this recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special.

Want Tasty Vegetarian Variety? Try Arabiata!

I don’t know about you, dear readers, but one of my favorite things to do growing up was eat out.  Since we’ve become vegan, we avoid eating out for various reasons, but when we find an establishment that has a variety of vegan dishes or is willing to tailor menu items to fit our needs, we become loyal customers.  That’s why we want to tell you all about Arabiata.

Arabiata is a local Egyptian chain of restaurants that serves up traditional Egyptian favorites.  Historically, they became famous for their fava beans (slow-cooked or medames and fried in the form of tameyia [or felafel].  Gradually they added a slew of other dishes, including a lot of vegetarian options.  VERY reasonably priced, you can get your fill for just a few Egyptian pounds!  Here are a few shots of the vegetarian items on the menu (*not all of the items are vegan).

And now – for the best part, here’s what we ordered:


Arabiata Salad Bar with Egyptian pickles (Mary's favorite!)

Foul Iskandarani (Fava Beans, Alexandrian style - with tahina and parsley - and other fixin's)

Alexandrian Style Tamaya (Felafel - with hot chilis)

Regular, small tameya (felafel) - I can not resist these!

I told you I can't resist them!

Foul (fava beans) with tomato sauce and garlic!!!


You can order delivery from Arabiata by calling: 16919, as you see below, or….

You can visit any of their branches all over greater Cairo including those listed below:


For our non-Arabic speaking friends: Korba, Roxy, Heliopolis Club, Tayran St., Rihab City, British University, New Heliopolis Club, Golf City, El Abour


Try it and let us know what you think.

Alf Hana!!!

Rice Pudding (Egyptian and Vegan!)

Well, it’s the end of the first week of VeganMoFo.  We hope you have been enjoying our Egyptian veganized recipes!  We sure have been enjoying all the love you’ve sent our way!  Thanks!

Here’s a round up of what we’ve posted so far, just in case you missed something this week.

So, to top off this week’s feasts, we’re sharing a recipe for rice pudding.  It’s one of Mary’s favorites!

Serves 4

1/4 cup of white rice
3/4 cold water
2 cups nondairy milk (almond, soy, etc.)
pinch of salt
1/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla

1.  Place rice and water in a pot.  Bring to a boil.  Stir occasionally.
2.  Boil gently, uncovered for about 15 minutes.  (Most of the water will be gone.)
3.  Stir in the milk and salt.  Simmer on low heat, covered, for 40 minutes.  Check frequently and watch that the mixture doesn’t dry out or burn.  Stir occasionally.  (I put the pot on the smallest burner and used a flat stainless protector between the fire and the pot to prevent burning.)

4.  Add sugar and vanilla and mix.
5.  Cook another 10 minutes, covered.
6.  Dish into small serving bowls.  Serve hot or cold.  (If serving cold, it’s best to leave it in the fridge for at least 2 hours.)

Rice Pudding

Nutrition Information (per serving):

Calories: 150; Fat: 2g; Cholesterol: 0g; Carbohydrates: 30g; Fiber: 1g; Protein: 3g

Serving Suggestions and Variations

  • This version leaves the pudding a tiny bit liquidy.  If you like yours thicker, decrease the amount of milk OR add a little cornstarch.
  • Add cinnamon, nutmeg, chopped nuts, raisins, or coconut.
  • Use brown rice.

Alf Hana!!!

Celebrate World Vegan Day with Egyptian Okra

It was a struggle to pick out which recipe we would share today on World Vegan Day and the first day of Vegan MoFo.  But, at last, we decided it would have to Mary’s favorite dish:  Okra.  As someone who never cared much for okra, believe me, this is a delicious recipe!

This recipe is based on Mary’s mother’s recipe.

Serves 4-6


  • 1 bag of frozen okra
  • 5 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt (or regular table salt)
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • about 1 liter of water (depending on the consistency you want)

1.  Heat oil.  Add onions and garlic.  Cook about 3 minutes.

2.  Add salt and crumble in the bouillon cube.

Celery salt

3.  Add frozen okra, stir.

Frozen Okra

4.  Add tomatoes and water.
5.  Lower heat, cover, and simmer about 30 minutes or until okra is tender.

6.  Serve over rice.

Egyptian Okra

Nutrition information: (per 100 grams)

Calories: 21; Fat: 1g; Carbohydrates: 3g; Fiber: 1g; Protein: 1g