Streets of Cairo are full of food, even small remote streets will have at least one stand of beans , tameya, and koshari. No need to mention bakeries and fresh bread ovens which can be found in every Cairo street.
But there are some particular kinds of street food which can be found mainly in Cairo and sometimes just in a short period of time. For a example teen-shoki (fruits of opuntcia cactus) appear on Cairo streets only by the end of summer and can be tasted just during one month.
While other street foods are a long standing eating tradition, foods that you can not imagine Cairo without and definitely the foods everyone should taste at least once.
Here is the top Cairo street food that everyone must check while touring Cairo.
It is a characteristic street food in Cairo. Since childhood Caireners are used to buy it from a vendor standing at the gates of their schools. Now not that often but still in more folks areas of Cairo you can find the Grilled sweet potatoes vendors with their donkey-driven carts and an oven over it where on coils they grill right in front of your eyes sweet-potatoes, so you get it freshly baked, still very hot and of course delicious. Note, that Egyptians eat sweet potatoes with “dokka”: mixture of salt, black pepper and cumin.
It is another favourite snack in Cairo. Children and adults alike stop at a vendor anywhere they see him, as a rule along busy Cairo roads or at public bus stations and other crowded places, and buy this popular street snack. Grilled on coils in a primitive way on a piece of iron or a small grill stove.
It is a very Egyptian snack, found mainly in folks areas or on the bridges along the Nile. Vendors of this snack are very mobile, they drug their own carts and move easily from one place to another depending on the area and number of people they want to attract. Some of them come everyday to a particular place to sell their food, while others will wander around to attract as many people as possible.
What is termos or lupine? It is a kind of dried beans cooked in a particular way: boiled with some salt and lemon, and you eat it like sunflower seeds. Usually sold in a small tall plastic bags or paper cons at a small charge.
Opuntia, commonly called prickly pear, is a genus in the cactus family. These are juicy fresh and relatively sweet fruits of cactus! Yes, opuntia indica, known as Barbary fig or prickly pears. This delicious fruit appears on the streets of Cairo by the end of summer, around end of July and stay until September. Cairenes wait all the year for the season of tin-shoki to enjoy its taste this only month in the year.
Vendors of small self-driven carts full of tin-shouki can be found almost at every corner of Cairo streets, big and small, wide or narrow. It is a very popular dessert among the citizens and since the period of time you can enjoy the fruit is limited everyone does his best to fulfill the hunger for the much missed fruit.
Fruits of tin-shoki ( in Arabic it means prickly fig) are very prickly and have lots of tiny thorns, that’s why it is not recommended to touch them. Vendors wear special gloves and peel the fruit for you, so you just have to enjoy a fresh juicy taste in a hot summer day. The price is very low and the fruit is affordable to everyone. It costs around 1Le per piece.
No doubt that walking along Cairo streets you noticed some small shops with piles of peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and homus (Egyptian pees or gram) on its display. Every street of Cairo must have such a shop since these snacks are Egyptian favorites. All kinds of peanuts – fried and salted, sweet and pilled, variety of sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, together with homus can be found at these shops. The more popular the shop in an area, the fresher food it sells.
Egyptians call it simply Halawet El moulid – something sweet. If you like sweets than search for the following traditional street sweet around your place.
Sesame seed candy or Simsimayah – can be made of different seeds sesame or Peanuts candy Fouliyah and but traditional Egyptian is made coated with sugar syrup. Jalebi not really Egyptian sweet but wildly offered by street vendors.
Sha’ar-el-banat-candy-floss – very popular in folks areas, you can notice a man or a child walking with a long stick and many pink pockets attached to it, that’s the candy-floss vendor. Sometimes you can see them in the streets preparing the sweet right in front of your eyes.
Known as Hummus Sham or Halabisa, this kind of drink can be found from afternoon to the late evening in Cairo streets. Served hot during cold chilly evenings in Cairo it represents not just a spicy drink but also a favourite winter meal made of chick-peas, tomatoes, garlic, chilly pepper and cumin. It is usually sold hot on a specially equipped car with a big pot cooking the drink on a small fire.
It is a kind of Egyptian bagel sold in the streets of Cairo, usually vendors are recognized by a specially designed boxes they carry on their shoulders. There are different kinds available, some are freshly baked while others will be dried. Egyptians eat semit with cheese and eggs, with dok’ka (mixture of cumin, pepper, salt).
If you are a fan of the popular food carts that are spread in a number of Egyptian squares, then you must have seen the vendors of "roasted birds", and they are few. These small fried birds snacks are sold in the streets of Cairo, known as Asafir, If you are passing by in El Sayada Aisha's Square in Cairo, you will see a seller in front of him, a tray full of house sparrow prepared for food, roasting them and offering them for sale.
Juice stands are spread in most of the main areas in Egypt to serve the residents of the area. Juice stands offer seasonal juices: fresh mango, guava, orange, and carrot make refreshing drinks during during a trip through the hot and dusty Cairo streets.
Groundcherry is a very popular street fruit which you can buy on Cairo streets in particular season. Street vendors with their self-driven carts full of orange ground cherries are shown from distance. The fee for the sweet-and-sour berries is low, so anyone can afford it.