Citizens, the proud and mighty country of Egypt (Egyptian Arabic: مَصر Maṣr) has a special place in TFD’s heart, as I spent my college years studying the entirety of Egyptian history!
Egypt (officially the Arab Republic of Egypt), is a transcontinental country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia, via a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. It is the world’s only contiguous Eurafrasian nation. Most of Egypt’s territory of 1,010,408 square kilometres (390,000 sq mi) lies within the Nile Valley. Egypt is a Mediterranean country. It is bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba to the east, the Red Sea to the east and south, Sudan to the south and Libya to the west.
Egypt has one of the longest histories of any modern country, arising in the tenth millennium BC as one of the world’s first nation states. Considered a cradle of civilization, Ancient Egypt experienced some of the earliest developments of writing, agriculture, urbanization, organized religion and central government.
Iconic monuments such as the Pyramids and the Great Sphinx, as well the ruins of Memphis, Thebes, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings, reflect this legacy and remain a significant focus of archaeological study and popular interest worldwide. Egypt’s rich cultural heritage is an integral part of its national identity, having endured, and at times assimilated, various foreign influences, including Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, and European. Although Christianised in the first century of the Common Era, it was subsequently Islamised due to the Islamic conquests of the seventh century.
With over 90 million inhabitants, Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa and the Arab World, the third-most populous in Africa (after Nigeria and Ethiopia), and the fifteenth-most populous in the world. The great majority of its people live near the banks of the Nile River, an area of about 40,000 square kilometres (15,000 sq mi), where the only arable land is found.
The large regions of the Sahara desert, which constitute most of Egypt’s territory, are sparsely inhabited. About half of Egypt’s residents live in urban areas, with most spread across the densely populated centres of greater Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities in the Nile Delta.
Modern Egypt is considered to be a regional and middle power, with significant cultural, political, and military influence in North Africa, the Middle East and the Muslim world. Its economy is one of the largest and most diversified in the Middle East, with sectors such as tourism, agriculture, industry and services at almost equal production levels.
Hawawshi (حواوشى) is a famous traditional Egyptian dish very similar to the Middle Eastern pizza-like Lahmacun. It is a meat minced and spiced with onions, pepper, parsley and sometimes hot peppers or chilis. The ingredients are placed between two circular layers of dough, then baked in an oven.
Hawawshi is commonly made in Egyptian homes and is also served in some restaurants, usually as a take-away and is an extremely popular street food. I enjoyed it many times when I was studying in Egypt as an archaeology student, many years ago. 🙂
My version is both traditional and delicious, Citizens!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
For the dough:
3 cups flour
3 Tbsp powdered milk
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 tsp instant dried yeast
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup warm water
For the meat:
750 gm of minced beef
¼ kg beef sausage (I prefer kielbasa)
1 large onion
3 bell peppers – 1 green, 1 yellow, one red
2 jalapeño chili peppers
⅓ cup chopped parsley
1 tsp of salt
2 tsp dukkah spice mix, made from:
½ cup shelled roasted pistachio nuts
½ cup shelled roasted hazelnuts
If you cannot purchase roasted nuts, toast the nuts in a hot oven for approximately 10 minutes (watch closely so they do not burn), stirring frequently.
½ tablespoon whole coriander seeds
¼ tablespoon whole fennel seeds
¾ tablespoon whole cumin seeds
⅛ cup toasted sesame seeds
½ tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
⅛ teaspoon Smoked Spanish Paprika
½ tablespoon coarse salt or sea salt
1 teaspoon coarsely-crushed black peppercorns
In a separate container from the nuts, toast coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, sesame seeds in a hot oven for approximately 5 to 8 minutes (also watch carefully so they do not burn). Remove from oven and let cool.
In your food processor, grind your toasted nuts until the mixture resembles small breadcrumbs. The mixture should be very dry and crumbly, not a paste. Be careful as over processing can release the oils in the nuts and turn the mixture into a nut spread such as peanut butter.
In a mortar and pestle, grind the coriander seeds, fennels seeds, cumin seeds, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes slightly.
In a bowl, combine the crushed nuts, crushed seeds, Smoked Spanish Paprika, salt, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Store mixture in a covered container in the refrigerator.
1 tsp of ghee
½ tsp of preserved lamb fat, duck fat, or ghee
1 cube Maggi Chicken bouillon, crushed
To make the dough, put all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until a dough is formed, then blitz for 1-2 minutes longer.
Remove the dough, form into a ball, put in an oiled bowl and let rise for about an hour until doubled in size.
Cut the sausage, onion, chili peppers into small pieces.
In a deep bowl, mix the minced meat, sausage, crushed Maggi chicken cube, dukkah spice, onion and bell peppers and mix them well.
Put ghee in a bowl and sauté the preserved lamb fat or duck fat (if using) on low heat, and then add them both to the minced meat mixture.
Place the minced meat mixture in the refrigerator for a quarter of an hour.
Preheat oven to 500F.
Divide the dough into four balls; divide the filling into four.
Roll each ball of dough into a circle about a half centimeter thick, spread a portion of the meat on one half.
Fold the pastry over the filling to create a pocket, and crimp the edges with a fork.
Poke the surface with a fork to allow air to escape as the pastries cook.
Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Bake your pockets in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, then a couple more (1-2) under the broiler for color.
Cool for 5 minutes before eating. Serve hawawshi with tahini salad, pickles, or as desired.