When Egyptians Celebrate, They Cook...

Whether it's for Easter or Eid, Egyptians really know how to put on a spread.

A Coptic FeastRAWI Publishing

Egyptians may fast differently, each according to their faith, but they feast the same way, sharing many traditions and dishes that have been passed down through generations. 


With its richly seasoned ground meat filling, soft gooey pastry envelope, and crisp edges,  Ro’a’  is one of the most craved dishes after fasting. Sheets of ro’a’ (a crisp wafer-thin pastry) are layered with ground meat in a ghee-brushed pan and drizzled with bone broth.

The pie stays in the oven for about 45 min to cook through or until the liquid is absorbed, and the pastry is suitably soft and crispy around the edges. It’s then turned out onto a serving plate and cut into irresistible squares that soon disappear.


Mombar or stuffed cow intestines is a very common dish in the Arab world especially in rural Egypt during the festivities. To prepare it, the cow intestines are washed and stuffed with a spiced mix of rice and fresh green herbs. 

The ends are then tied to keep the stuffing in and the mombar is boiled until the rice is cooked through, then drained, and pan-fried in oil or ghee. With a crispy shell and a delectable mix of spices, it is indeed a special festive dish.


Be it Coptic Easter, Catholic Christmas, or Muslim Eid al-Adhafattah always takes pride of place on festive tables. It consists of a layer of rice, a layer of fried baladi or pita bread, a layer of meat and tomato sauce, and a garlic and vinegar da’a (sauce) to top it off.

Each Arab country makes fattah differently with Levantine countries adding chickpeas and chicken or ground meat and eggplants, for example, but Egyptians take pride in their tender lamb meat chunks laid over the perfectly cooked rice, crispy bread, and garlicky tomato sauce.


Grilled or pan-fried beef liver is definitely a staple at Coptic feasts. Sliced into strips, it is always marinated in salt and pepper, cumin, onion water, and garlic, and pan fried.

Stuffed Vine Leaves

Like many others around the Mediterranean, Egyptians consider stuffed vine leaves a delicacy. Traditional Egyptian wara’ ‘einab is stuffed with seasoned rice and cooked in broth.  However, for the festivities, ground meat is often added to the rice.

So much effort goes into this dish: rolling the vine leaves into uniform cylinders, stacking them evenly in a deep pot, cooking in exactly the right amount of broth, then carefully inverting onto a serving dish. No wonder each family takes pride in its wara’ ‘einab recipe!

Assortment of KahkRAWI Publishing


Of course, no feast is complete without sweets. Before any major feast, families – both Muslim and Christian – come together to bake kahk (sugar and ghee biscuits) served at the feasts that follow Ramadan and Coptic Lent. 

Families make dozens of large trays of these biscuits and often send them to local bakers to bake in their industrial ovens. After baking, the biscuits are dusted with powdered sugar.

Kahk can be filled with malban, shown here, which is a fruit jelly thickened with starch, and flavoured with rose water or mastic. Other fillings include walnuts and date paste but kahk can also be served plain. 

Decorating KahkRAWI Publishing

The kahk biscuits are shaped and decorated using traditional tools, modern plastic moulds, or just a fork or knife to draw geometric patterns.

Kahk Close-upRAWI Publishing

The pattern-making is often the most fun part of the kahk-baking tradition, with family members competing on precision and creativity and who can work the fastest!

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