Lunch At Setto's

Dig into a wholesome Egyptian Friday family lunch at Grandma’s

Setto's Sofra (Granny's Dining Table)RAWI Publishing

The word setto is used by many Egyptians to say ‘grandmother’ and probably comes from the ancient Egyptian word set, meaning woman. 


Join us for a typical Friday family lunch at Setto's amidst affectionate chatter, children running around, and a table of family favourites.

Ideally, everyone squeezes around the dining table, but as families grow, the dining table becomes a buffet where only the older family members get a seat. The menu is usually heavy on proteins and carbs with some lighter sides to cut through the richness.     

Baked chicken

Today’s protein dish is a chicken and potato tray-bake. The quartered whole chicken is marinated in spices (every grandma has her special spice mix) and cooked in tomato sauce with sliced onions and potatoes. 

Fried eggplants

These black finger eggplants (called ‘arous' or ‘dolls’) are boiled in salted water and stuffed with garlic, chili, cumin, vinegar, green pepper and coriander mix (called da‘a), fried and doused with a vinegar tomato mix to preserve them for longer. 

Baladi Salad

A baladi (traditional or country-style) salad starts off with cubed cucumbers and tomatoes, often onions, grated carrots, parsley, and turnips sometimes, as well as chilli for those who like it, all in a  traditional dressing of lime juice and cumin with oil, salt and pepper.

Mahshi

Vegetables stuffed with herbed spiced rice cooked in a hearty broth with onions and tomatoes are the ultimate comfort food. Mahshi is a common dish in Arab countries and around the Mediterranean and Egyptians often feel a menu isn’t complete without at least one stuffed veggie! 

Although the stuffing is the same for all vegetables, each one – courgettes, eggplants, green peppers, tomatoes – is uniquely delicious. Mahshi is usuallly served with a side of yoghurt salad made with grated cucumbers, crushed dried mint, garlic, and salt.

Molokheyya

If there is anything that screams childhood memories connected to food, it's molokheyya, a leafy green served as a soup, and the smell of fried garlic with coriander that announces its preparation. 

Families eat molokheyya in different ways: as a sauce over white rice with some chicken on the side; as a soup with pieces of baladi bread to soak up the richness; or with rice, salad, onions, and sliced chicken topped with a rich red sauce. 

Stuffed pigeon

This is a traditional Egyptian dish, that always creates excitement around the table.  Upper Egypt is particularly known for this dish. 

The pigeons are boiled and stuffed with par-cooked aromatic rice or fireek (toasted, cracked wheat), cooked in the pigeon both, fried in ghee to get a crispy layer of skin layer, then finished off in the oven. 

Macarona béchamel

Macarona béchamel is the ultimate comfort food: pasta swimming in a dense béchamel sauce with layers of ground meat, topped with cheese then baked for the ultimate gooey indulgence.

Black eyed peas in tomato sauce


Sometimes the simplest foods can be the most satisfying such as the tomato-based vegetable and bean dishes common in Egyptian cooking. Anything from black-eyed peas to potatoes, okra, and peas are cooked in ghee or oil with tomato paste, garlic, and onions and served with rice. 

Pickles

Just as Egyptians like to stuff things, they also love to pickle almost anything, so much so that medieval cookbooks contain chapters on how to pickle close to all food types, from olives and carrots to rose petals and flowers. 

Classical turshi (pickled vegetables) in Egypt include cucumbers, carrots, onions, cauliflower, chili, eggplants, and turnips, and of course green olives. A bright pink beet slice is sometimes added to tint the pickling liquid a bright electric pink. 

Rice

The taste of Egyptian white rice comes from the special short grain low-starch rice grown here coupled with the flavours of ghee and salt. Some cooks add mastic, a cardamom pod, and a bay leaf for some extra flavour. Others mix the white rice with pan-fried vermicelli. 

Baladi Bread

No meal Is complete without baladi bread. It is used to dip into sauces, scoop up food, and wipe your plate clean at the end of this delicious lunch at Setto's.

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