The Ancient Egyptians were an industrious people and invented many things that can still be found in the modern world.
They are attributed with the discovery of paper and ink, make up as well as sweets.
Yes, some of the first sweet confectionaries originated in Ancient Egypt and were made from combinations of honey, fruit and nuts.
Many traditional Egyptian desserts have survived the test of time and can still be found in the street stalls of Cairo to this day.
This list will take you through 18 Egyptian desserts that are easy to make at home and absolutely delicious.
Basbousa is a soft cake made from semolina wheat and garnished with nuts and honey. To make it, you will need to create a special type of fat called Ghee.
This nutty butter is made by clarifying unsalted butter, which means melting it and letting it simmer until all the solids fall to the bottom.
While this recipe may take a bit of practice to get right, it is very worth the effort for a succulent dessert that goes beautifully with a cup of tea.
This recipe uses caramelized puff pastry cookies called palmiers or lunnettes as the base for this traditional Egyptian bread pudding.
You can either buy palmiers from a shop or make your own to crush up for the base of your umm ali.
The crushed biscuits are covered in full fat milk (traditionally buffalo milk) and clotted cream to make a sumptuous smooth pudding that can be garnished with pistachio nuts, raisins and shredded coconut.
Kunafa is one of the most famous middle eastern desserts that has been around for thousands of years. It is made from shredded phyllo pastry with a center made from smooth milk pudding.
This recipe is much easier if you can buy a box of phyllo pastry that has already been shredded.
However, if this isn’t possible, you can easily buy a normal sheet of pastry and cut it into thin strips yourself.
Qatayef is a delicious sweet treat that is often served as a special dessert during the middle eastern holiday of Ramadan.
They are made from a special type of pancake that has yeast in the batter. The pancakes are folded in half to encompass a filling of hazelnuts, pine nuts and raisins.
Qatayef takes about two hours to prepare from scratch, but once you taste the results, you will find them an irresistible dessert that is similar to a crêpe filled with nuts and dried fruit.
This is probably one of the easiest recipes to make on this list, since it only requires a sweet potato and a bit of butter.
Baked sweet potatoes are a popular dessert sold from Egyptian food stalls, where they are baked in a wood fire oven, cut in half and sold wrapped in paper.
You can easily make your own at home with a bit of tin foil and any condiments you would like to add to your potato.
Kahk are a type of small round cookie that typically contains a filling made from honey, nuts and ghee. They are enjoyed at the end of Ramadan as part of celebrations for Eid-ul-Fitr.
You can make an equally delicious filling using a paste made from dates called Agwa. The outside of these cookies is quite easy to throw together, provided you know how to clarify butter to make ghee.
After you have finished the cookies, you can give them a slightly crispy texture by dusting them with confectioners sugar.
In Ancient Egypt, this dessert was known as feteer maltoot, and it was often made an as offering to the gods.
Over the years, feteer meshaltet has become a staple dessert in Egypt and once you make your own you will quickly see why.
It only requires five ingredients to make, and takes just over an hour to make.
Most of this time will be spent folding your layers of dough and placing a thin spreading of ghee between each fold to make this sumptuous sweet flatbread with a light, puffy texture.
Baklava is a popular middle eastern sweet that can be purchased in Turkey, Greece and of course, Egypt. It is composed of a light, crispy phyllo pastry that wrapped around a center made from fruit and nuts.
This recipe also teaches you how to make a homemade syrup for pouring over your baklava, to give them that iconic sticky sweet texture.
The middle is filled with nuts, and you can add more if you like, by sprinkling crushed pistachios over the top as a garnish.
The dough for these sweet fritters is made from all-purpose flour, cornstarch and full fat yogurt. This gives them a crispy outer shell with a soft, fluffy interior that you are sure to love from the moment you take the first bite.
To get the perfect crunch, you should deep-fry these dough balls until the outside is consistently golden brown all over.
Once they are done, you can cover these zalabya with a thick coating of homemade syrup if you want to be traditional or chocolate sauce if you want to take them to the next level.
Couscous is more commonly used in savory dishes, but it can also be used to make a sumptuous Egyptian dessert.
While the water is boiling, you will need to add a spoonful of butter to give the grains a nice chewy texture.
Once the couscous has been cooked, it is mixed with powdered sugar to bring out its natural sweetness.
The best part about this dessert is the great selection of garnishes you can use to finish it off which include pistachio nuts, raisins and more powdered sugar.
This milky custard originated from Yemen but is still sold all over Egypt during the festival of Ramadan.
The milk is thickened with cornflour and a splash of cream, which creates a beautifully smooth texture that is unlike any other custard you have tried.
A little rose water really takes this dish to the next dimension by offering a very refreshing and appetizing aroma.
The dessert is best served in a small mug with a garnish of pistachio nuts, chopped almonds and cardamom powder.
Jalebi is a type of shallow fried batter that is made from flour, yogurt and ghee, and covered with a thick sugar syrup.
You can ferment the batter for this recipe by making it the night before, but thanks to the addition of curd you can also make instant jalebi in less than 30 minutes.
This recipe has lots of good tips for how to get the perfect jalebi such as how to make your batter have the right consistency for a gorgeous golden coloring.
These miniature Egyptian cookies are incredibly easy to make and only require three different ingredients for the dough.
All you need for this recipe is flour, sugar and ghee with the optional teaspoon of baking powder if you want your biscuits to be extra fluffy.
Ghorayebah are extremely soft egg-free cookies that have a crispy exterior when coated with a dusting of powdered sugar.
Chopped almonds make an excellent garnish for enjoying alongside these delightful sweet treats.
Rice pudding wasn’t invented in Egypt, but it is still a very popular dessert that is frequently sold in food stalls across the country.
The best rice pudding is made with extra short-grain rice, which will form a beautiful pudding when cooked with milk.
Buffalo milk and whipped cream are a great combination to make this recipe more authentic and greatly improve the taste.
Mastic and vanilla are used to flavor this dish for a deliciously creamy pudding.
This is another fried pastry recipe that is both crunchy and sumptuously sweet. The batter is made from eggs, flour and unsalted butter, which results in a pastry that expands to create a crispy shell when fried.
The hardest part of the recipe is adding the eggs, as when you do, it may look like your dough is curdling.
If this happens, don’t worry, you haven’t messed up, just keep mixing the batter until it becomes soft and smooth.
You will know you have succeeded when you can pull a spoon out of your dough, and it forms a hook.
Atayef are a slight variation on the Qatayef stuffed pancakes we looked at earlier in this list.
The difference is the use of semolina flour instead of all-purpose, which makes these middle eastern delicacies taste even more authentic.
They also have a filling made with soft cheese as well as nuts and dried fruit, which makes the center tantalizingly creamy.
You can easily make this recipe vegan by supplementing the milk for water and adding a little more sugar.
These are brittle bars that can be made with a variety of different nuts. The nuts and seeds are crushed and then amalgamated together with honey, lemon juice and rose water.
You can make these brittle biscuits out of sesame seeds, pistachios, peanuts, hazelnuts or any other nuts or seeds you can think of.
Once the honey has set, these bars are delicious and make the perfect crunchy snack for enjoying alongside a cup of tea.
This classic Egyptian cake has a beautifully soft texture that is similar to Basbousa. The difference is that while the Basbousa is made from semolina flour, this recipe is made with desiccated coconut, so it is slightly firmer.
It is sweetened with sugar, yogurt and custard powder. Topped with sugar syrup, this dessert is delightfully sweet and once it is finished you will find it nearly impossible to say no to another piece.
There are a whole range of sumptuous desserts that come from Egypt, and many of them are very easy to make with some basic equipment and few specialist ingredients.
All the desserts in this list are perfect for a rainy day when you are craving something sugary.
Even though some of them take a long time to prepare, you will find them worth every minute of effort when you taste the results.
So give them a try and impress your friends and family with these classic, traditional Egyptian desserts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where Did The First Sweets Come From?
According to some historians, the very first sweet confectionaries originated in Ancient Egypt.
These desserts were often made for festivals or royalty, and some of them like Feteer Meshaltet were even created as offering to the gods.
Common ingredients in Ancient Egyptian desserts were fruit, nuts and honey.
Some of the confectionaries on this very list can trace their origins back to the Ancient Egyptian empires.
What Kind Of Milk Is Best For Egyptian Desserts?
Many Egyptian recipes were not made with cow’s milk, although you can still use it if you don’t want your desserts to be one hundred percent authentic.
If you are trying to accurately recreate some of these traditional recipes, then you can use buffalo milk.
Since buffalo produce less milk than cows, this is a difficult ingredient to come across, but you may have some luck if you can find a local dairy that keeps buffalo in your area.
How Do You Make Ghee?
Ghee is a specific form of nutty fat that is used in many traditional Egyptian desserts. It is very easy to make by yourself at home by clarifying regular unsalted butter.
To clarify butter, simply melt it in a pot and then lower the heat to let it simmer. You want to wait until the milk solids start to collect at the bottom.
Once this happens, wait until the solid matter has turned slightly brown before taking your ghee off the heat and letting it cool.
Strain your clarified butter to remove any solids, and you will be left with a jar of Ghee, which can be used to make delicious middle eastern desserts.