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Please help improve this article by expanding it. Further information might be found on the talk page. (May 2008) This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. Please improve this article if you can. The talk page may contain suggestions. (May 2008) Life in Egypt Culture Cinema Holidays Cuisine Sports Demography People Languages Religion Human rights Politics Parliament Military Economy Transportation Communications Education Wildlife Egyptian cuisine consists of the local culinary traditions of Egypt. Egyptian cuisine makes heavy use of legumes and vegetables, as Egypt's rich Nile Valley and Delta produce large quantities of high-quality crops. Contents 1 History and characteristics 2 Bread 3 Entrées 4 Desserts 4.1 Cakes 5 Religious varieties 6 Beverages 7 See also 8 References 9 Bibliography 10 External links // History and characteristics See also: Ancient Egyptian cuisine Egyptian cuisine's history goes back to Ancient Egypt. Archaeological excavations have found that workers on the Great Pyramids of Giza were paid in bread, beer, and onions, apparently their customary diet as peasants in the Egyptian countryside. Dental analysis of the mummified bodies of these workers seems to indicate that the bread was chewy and coarse but hearty, rather like the bread of modern Egypt; the occasional desiccated loaves found in tombs confirm this, in addition to indicating that ancient Egyptian bread was made with flour from emmer wheat. Though beer disappeared as a mainstay of Egyptian life following the Muslim conquest of Egypt in the year 654, onions remain the primary vegetable for flavoring and nutrition in Egyptian food. Beans were also a primary source of protein for the mass of the Egyptian populace, as they remain today. Egyptian cuisine is notably conducive to vegetarian- and vegan diets, as it relies so heavily on vegetable dishes. Though food in Alexandria and the coasts of Egypt tends to use a great deal of fish and other seafood, for the most part Egyptian cuisine is based on foods that grow out of the ground. Meat has been very expensive for most Egyptians throughout history, and a great deal of vegetarian dishes have developed to work around this economic reality. Bread Bread forms the backbone of Egyptian cuisine. Bread is consumed at almost all Egyptian meals; a working-class or rural Egyptian meal might consist of little more than bread and beans. The local bread is a form of hearty, thick, glutenous pita bread called Eish Masri or Eish Baladi (Egyptian Arabic: عيش ʿēsh; Modern Standard Arabic: ʿaīšh) rather than the Standard خبز khubz. The word "Eish" comes from the Semitic root ع-ي-ش ʿ-I-Š with the meaning "to live, be alive."[1] The word "ʿaīšh" itself has the meaning of "life, way of living...; livelihood, subsistence" in Modern Standard and Classical Arabic; folklore holds that this synonymity indicates the centrality of bread to Egyptian life.[1] In modern Egypt, the government subsidizes bread, dating back to a Nasser-era policy. In 2008, a major food crisis caused ever-longer bread lines at government-subsidized bakeries where there would normally be none; occasional fights broke out over bread, leading to fear of rioting.[2] Egyptian dissidents and outside observers of the regime frequently criticize the bread subsidy as an attempt to buy off the Egyptian urban working classes in order to encourage acceptance of the authoritarian regime in a policy reminiscent of the Imperial Roman program of panem et circenses. On a culinary level, bread is most commonly used as an edible utensil besides providing the carbohydrate and much of the protein in the Egyptian diet. Egyptians use bread to scoop up food, sauces, and dips and to wrap kebabs, falafel, and the like in the manner of sandwiches. Most pita breads are baked at high temperatures (850 °F or 450 °C), causing the flattened rounds of dough to puff up dramatically. When removed from the oven, the layers of baked dough remain separated inside the deflated pita, which allows the bread to be opened into pockets, creating a space for use in various dishes. Aish Merahrah is an Egyptian flat bread made with 5 -10% ground fenugreek seeds and maize. It is part of the traditional diet of the Egyptian countryside, prepared locally in village homes. The loaves are flat and wide, and usually about 50 cm in diameter. The bread is made of maize flour that has been made into a soft dough that is fermented overnight with a sourdough starter, shaped into round loaves that are then allowed to rise or "proof" for 30 minutes before being flattened into round disks, which are then baked. They can be kept for days in an airtight container. The addition of fenugreek seeds increases the protein content, storage length and digestibility of the bread; on the other hand, it causes the eater to exude a distinctive odor in his or her sweat, which is occasionally mocked by more urban Egyptians. Entrées Ful Medames, one of Egypt's national dishes, served with sliced eggs and vegetables. Egyptian cuisine is characterized by dishes such as Ful Medames, Kushari, rice-stuffed pigeon, Mulukhiyya, and Fetir Meshaltet. Egyptian cuisine also shares similarities with food of the Eastern Mediterranean region, such as rice-stuffed vegetables, grape leaves, Shawerma, Kebab, Falafel (ta`meyya), Baba Ghannoug, and baklava (ba'lāwa). Some Egyptians consider Kushari - a mixture of rice, lentils, and macaroni - to be the national dish. In addition, Ful Medames (mashed fava beans) is one of the most popular dishes. Fava bean is also used in making falafel (also known as "ta`meyya"), which originated in Egypt and spread to other parts of the Middle East. Kushari served at an Egyptian restaurant in Cairo. Fried kibbeh (kobēba) with mint Fried falafel (ta`meyya) Ancient Egyptians are known to have used a lot of garlic and onion in their everyday dishes. Fresh mashed garlic with other herbs is used in spicy tomato salad and is also stuffed in boiled or baked aubergines (eggplant). Garlic fried with coriander is added to Mulukhiyya, a popular green soup made from finely chopped jute leaves, sometimes with chicken or rabbit. Fried onions can be also added to Kushari. Dish Definition Baba Ghannoug A condiment made with eggplants, chickpeas, lemon juice, salt, pepper, parsley, cumin and oil. Du'aah A dry mixture of chopped nuts, seeds, Middle Eastern spices, and flavors. Kabab Usually of lamb meat, chops and minced meat on skewers grilled on charcoal. Kofta Kibda Fried liver, with seasonings. It is seen as something of an Alexandrine specialty, where it is known as Kibda Iskindiraniyya. Kishk A milk or yogurt savory pudding, made with flour, sometimes seasoned with fried onions, chicken broth, and/or boiled chicken. Maḥshi A stuffing of rice, seasoned with herbs and spices, into vegetables like green peppers, aubergines, courgettes, tomatoes, or cabbage leaves. The stuffed vegetable is then placed in a pot and topped with tomato sauce and lemon or lime. Maḥshi ḥamām Pigeon stuffed with rice or wheat and herbs, then roasted or grilled. Maḥshi waraa enab Grape leaves stuffed with a rice mixture that can be made either with sauteed ground beef or vegetarian style. The rice is seasoned with crushed red tomatoes, onion, parsley, dill, salt, pepper and Egyptian spices. This mixture is then stuffed and rolled into an individual grape leaf, placed in a pot and topped with tomato sauce and lemon or lime. Musa'a`ah Sliced eggplants that are lightly grilled and placed in a flat pan with sliced onions, green peppers, and jalapeños. It is then covered with a red sauce made of tomato paste and Egyptian spices. This pan is cooked in the oven for 30–40 minutes at 350 degrees. Mulukhiyah Green soup prepared in various styles, wherein the mallow leaves are very finely chopped, with ingredients such as garlic and coriander added to give it a characteristic aromatic taste. Ruz Meaammar A rice dish made by adding milk (and frequently butter or cream) and chicken stock or broth to cooked rice and subsequently baking it in an over. Frequently substituted for plain white rice at festive occasions and large family meals. Shawerma A popular sandwich of shredded beef, lamb or chicken meat, usually rolled in pita bread with Tahina sauce. It is a relatively recent import from Levantine cuisine, possibly brought by Lebanese immigrants, but it has been incorporated into the Egyptian kitchen. Tehina sesame paste dip or spread made of sesame tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. Typically served with pita bread. Tehina salad a condiment made with sesame butter, chickpeas, vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, parsley, cumin and olive oil. Bram rice Rice made with milk in a special kind of plate, usually stuffed with chicken liver Koubeiba Kofta with bulghur wheat and meat Macaroni bechamel An Egyptian variant of the Greek pastitsio, typically incorporating Gibna Rūmī (Egyptian Sardo or Pecorino cheese) Shakshouka Eggs with tomato sauce and vegetables. An import from Moroccan cuisine, it has since become Egyptianized. Samak mashwy Grilled fish. Like most fish dishes, a specialty of Alexandria. Samak makly Fried fish. Again, a specialty of Alexandria. Torly A tray of baked squash, potatoes, carrots, onions, and tomato sauce Calamari Squid, fried and served with tartar sauce, or grilled. A slice of Egyptian Macaroni Béchamel Macarona béchamel, also known as "pastitsio" in Greece, it consists of a mixture of penne macaroni and béchamel sauce, and usually one or two layers of cooked spiced meat with onions. Beeftek (veal schnitzel; a French import) Kirsha (Sheep gelatin with vegetables). Bird Tongue (Orzo) Noodle Soup. Bisara. Duck. Duqqa. Eggs with bastırma. Falafel. Ferakh panee (chiken schnitzel) Feseekh (salted or fermented mullet, generally eaten on the spring festival of Sham El Nessim, which falls on Eastern Easter Monday). Ful medames. Goose. Kushari. Lentil Soup. Chicken liver Beef liver Mahshi (grape leaves dolma, cabbage, green pepper, eggplant, squash, aubergines, courgettes, tomatoes, onions). Moussaqa'a. Molokheyya (Egyptian style), with rabbits, chicken or other type of meat. Pigeon (Hamaam) stuffed with rice. Shish taouk; a relatively recent import from the Levant. Sayyadiyeh. Ta'meyya (Falafel). White (feta) cheese & tomato salad with olive oil and garlic. Hummus Tahini Octopus (akhtaboot) (grilled). Mussels (fried and served with tartar sauce or stuffed with rice filling). Shrimp (gambary) (salad, grilled or cooked with vegetables in güveç-casserole). Fattah Masryah. Bamyah,"beram bamyah". Kawarea and Mumbar. Dukkah Desserts Basbousa topped with walnut Egyptian desserts are different from other Eastern Mediterranean desserts. Basbousa, sometimes called Harissa (in Morocco and Alexandria), is a spicy dish made from semolina and is soaked in a sugar syrup. It is usually topped with almonds and traditionally cut vertically into pieces so that each piece resembles a diamond shape. Baqlawa is a sweet dish made from many layers of phyllo pastry, an assortment of nuts, and soaked in a sweet syrup. Eish al-Saraya[3] Fatir are pancakes (filo dough) stuffed with everything from eggs to apricots or fruit of choice. Ghurayyeba is a common dish in all of North Africa. It is a sweet dish similar to kahk but much thinner. It is like shortbread and is usually topped with roasted almonds. Kahk is a traditional sweet dish served most commonly during Eid ul-Fitr in Egypt. It is a shortbread biscuit covered with icing sugar, which may be stuffed with dates, walnuts, or agameya (like Turkish-delight) or just served plain. Kunāfah is a dish of batter "fingers" fried on a hot grill and stuffed with nuts (usually pistachios), meats, heavy whipped cream or sweets. Luqmat al-Qadi literally translates to "The Judge's Bite". They are small, round donuts which are crunchy on the outside and soft and syrupy on the inside. They may be served with dusted cinnamon and powdered sugar. Qatayef is a dessert reserved for the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, a sort of sweet crepe filled with cheese or nuts. Ruz bil-laban (rice pudding) is made with short grain white rice, full-cream milk, sugar, and vanilla. It may be served dusted with cinnamon. Umm Ali,a national dish of Egypt, is a raisin cake soaked in milk and served hot. Other desserts include: Feteer meshaltet[4] Couscous Egyptian style Halawa. Honey and coconut pie. Ladida. Malban (Turkish Delight) Mehalabeyya. Melabesa. Cakes Traditional apple cakes are seasoned with various spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon, which provide additional flavour. Upon the addition of spices the batter can also be accompanied by crushed nuts, the most popular being walnuts and almonds. Sponge cake is a cake based on flour (usually wheat flour), sugar, and eggs, sometimes leavened with baking powder, that derives its structure from an egg foam into which the other ingredients are folded Vanilla slice "ميل فى" [mīlfī] is a pastry made of several layers of puff pastry alternating with a sweet filling, typically pastry cream, but sometimes whipped cream, or jam. It is usually glazed with icing or fondant in alternating white and brown (chocolate) strips, and combed. Religious varieties Although Ramadan is a month of fasting for Muslims in Egypt, it is usually when Egyptians pay a lot of attention to food in variety and richness, since breaking the fast is a family affair, often with entire extended families meeting at the table just after sunset. There are several special desserts almost exclusive to Ramadan such as Kunāfah and Qatayef (Arabic: كنافة وقطايف‎). In this month, many Egyptians will make a special table for the poor or passers-by, usually in a tent in the street, called Ma'edat Al Rahman (Arabic: مائدة الرحمن‎) which translates literally as Table of (God) the Gracious (Merciful). Observant Copts (Egypt's Oriental Orthodox Christian population) observe fasting periods according to the Coptic Calendar that practically extend to more than two-thirds of the year. The Coptic diet for fasting is essentially vegan. During this fasting, Copts will usually eat vegetables and legumes fried in oil as they avoid meat, chicken, and dairy products including butter. Beverages Tea (Arabic: شاي‎, shāy) is the national drink in Egypt, followed only distantly by Egyptian coffee. Egyptian tea is uniformly black and sweet, usually not served with milk, and generally in a glass. Tea packed and sold in Egypt is almost exclusively imported from Kenya and Sri Lanka. The Egyptian government considers tea a strategic crop[citation needed] and runs large tea plantations in Kenya. Egyptian tea comes in two varieties, Koshary and Saiidi. Koshary tea (Arabic: شاي كشري‎ Shāy Kusharīy), popular in Lower (Northern) Egypt, is prepared using the traditional method of steeping black tea in boiled water and letting it sit for a few minutes. It is almost always sweetened with cane sugar and is often flavored with fresh mint leaves. Adding milk is also common. Koshary tea is usually light, with less than a half teaspoonful of tea per cup considered to be near the high end. Saiidi tea (Arabic: شاي صعيدي‎ Shāy Ṣa`īdī) is common in Upper (Southern) Egypt. It is prepared by boiling black tea with water for as long as 5 minutes over a strong flame. Saiidi tea is extremely heavy, with 2 teaspoonfuls of tea per cup being the norm. It is sweetened with copious amounts of cane sugar (a necessity since the formula and method yield a very bitter tea). Saiidi tea is often black even in liquid form. Tea is a vital part of daily life and folk etiquette in Egypt. Tea typically accompanies breakfast in most households, and drinking tea after lunch is a common practice. Visiting another person's household, regardless of socioeconomic level or the purpose of the visit, entails a compulsory cup of tea; similar hospitality might be required for a business visit to the private office of someone wealthy enough to maintain one, depending on the nature of the business. A common nickname for tea in Egypt is "duty" (pronounced in Arabic as "wa-jeb" or "wa-geb"), as serving tea to a visitor is considered a duty, while anything beyond is a nicety. Green tea is a recent arrival to Egypt (only in the late 1990s did green tea become affordable) and is highly unpopular. This contrasts with certain parts of the Maghreb and Sahara, where gunpowder tea has traditionally been used to make Touareg tea and the tea for the Moroccan tea ceremony. Besides true tea, tisanes (herbal teas) are also often served at the Egyptian teahouses. Karkadeh (English pronunciation: /ˈkɑrkədeɪ/ KAR-kə-day; Arabic: كَركَديه‎), a tea of dried hibiscus sepals is particularly popular, as it is in other parts of North Africa. It is generally served extremely sweet and cold but may also be served hot. This drink is said to have been a preferred drink of the pharaohs. In Egypt and Sudan, wedding celebrations are traditionally toasted with a glass of hibiscus tea. On a typical street in downtown Cairo, one can find many vendors and open-air cafés selling the drink.[3] In Egypt, karkadeh is used as a means to lower blood pressure when consumed in high amounts. In Egypt, sugar cane juice is called "aseer asab" and is an incredibly popular drink served by almost all fruit juice vendors, who can be found abundantly in most cities. Licorice teas and carob juice drinks are traditionally drunk during the Islamic month of Ramadan, as is qamar ad-din, a thick drink made by reconstituting sheets of dried apricot with water. The sheets themselves are often consumed as candy. A sour, chilled drink made from tamarind is popular during the summer.[which?] Coffee (Arabic: قهوة‎ Standard Arabic: qahwah, N. Egyptian Arabic: ʾahwah, Saidi Arabic: gahwah) is considered a part of the traditional welcome in Egypt. It is usually prepared in a small coffee pot, which is called dalla (دلة) or kanakah in Egypt. It is served in a small cup made for coffee called or fingān (Northern) or finjān (Saidi) (Arabic: فنجان‎). See also Food portal Middle Eastern cuisine References ^ a b Wehr, Hans (1994) [1979]. J. Milton Cowan. ed. Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic. Urbana, Illinois: Spoken Language Services, Inc.. ISBN 0879500034.  ^ Slackman, Michael (14 April 2008). "A City Where You Can’t Hear Yourself Scream". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 May 2008.  ^ Eish El-Saraya Recipe ^ Feteer Meshaltet Recipe Bibliography Balkwill, Richard. (1994). Food & feasts in ancient Egypt. New York: New Discovery. 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