Getting After the Wild

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Dinner with Dina - An Egyptian Meal Fit for the Pharaohs

Egyptian cuisine at it's finest.
We're all searching for authentic cultural experiences when we travel but there's one particular type of experience that stands out amongst the rest and when you find it you've found the holy grail of travel. Food! And I'm not talking about a good restaurant, I'm talking a real home-cooked meal made from scratch, with recipes passed down through generations; when you get a taste of it you know you've really experienced the destination. Dinner with a local family in their home checks all the boxes for an authentic experience and often it's the highlight of the trip. You're essentially getting a meal, making friends and learning about the history and culture of a destination all in one. With that in mind, I'd like to share my absolute favorite culinary experience I've ever had during my recent trip to Egypt with Dina and her family (I've added one of her amazing recipes at the bottom).

Before I share how amazing this experience was, I need to tell you that our dinner with Dina was directly after visitng the Great Pyramids​ and my friend and I still thought our time with Dina and her family was a bigger highlight. Yeah, greater than the Great Pyramids. 

From the moment the door opened at Dina's house and we saw her big welcoming smile, we felt right at home. I've honestly never felt more comfortable walking into someone's home that I just met, Dina and her family just have this amazing personality that makes you instantly feel like you're family. Dina showed us around her home and her kitchen and how she prepared everything for our dinner with such a sincere passion. She was just as excited to share dinner with us as we were with her; she gets so much joy out of sharing her cooking. To start, she gave my friend and I a watermelon to eat and drink, which was so refreshing, being it was a hot day.

While the final touches were getting made for dinner we sat down with Dina's husband, Muhammad, and their son to watch the Egyptian soccer team play, which once again, made us feel like we were a part of the family. Now on to dinner, just take a look at this spread.

I was extra excited when I saw this meal because there was plenty of vegetarian options. One of the main dishes was kushery, a mix of pasta, rice, black lentils, fried onions with tomato and chili sauce. Oh my.... It absolutely blew my taste buds away, the chili sauce on top... It's making my mouth water right now just thinking about it (lucky for you, that's the recipe Dina was kind enough to share, which you can find it below.) 

There was also Egyptian bread, a bean sauce, falafel, boiled eggs with Dina's secret twist, salad (tabbouleh and sharmoula), water crest, tahini, Eygptian sausages, chicken shawarma... so much food. Although the real highlight of the dinner was getting to know Dina and her family; hearing the cute story about how Dina & Muhammad met and how Dina learned all her recipes growing up cooking with her Mom and Grandmother. The entire meal was full of laughter and joy and time seemed to stand still. I won't be able to remember when each pyramid was built or even which King they were built for in the coming weeks or years but I will always remember the kindness, hospitality, laughter, and food we shared with Dina and her family. I just can't say enough about how wonderful of an experience it was. Right before coming to Egypt, I was at an international travel conference and the theme was Empowering Connections and I don't know if there's a better way to do that then over dinner with someone at their house. It's the type of immersion we, as travelers, seek with every adventure. 

Shukraan Dina for welcoming us with such open arms!

If you'd like to have dinner with Dina and her family we will soon be launching a new trip to Egypt that includes this incredible experience. Give us a call at 800-345-4453 and talk to Sherry Howland, our Egypt director.

Finally, the part you've all been waiting for, here's Dina's kushery recipe (serves 4).

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of pasta (spaghetti)
  • 2 cups of rice 
  • 1 cup of black lentils 
  • 1 big fat onion :D

The salsa:
  • 3 tsp of oil 
  • 3 tsp of tomato sauce 
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced) 
  • 1 tsp of vinegar

The required spices are:
  • 1 tbsp of salt 
  • 1 tbsp of pepper
  • 1 tbsp of cumin 
  • ½ dry coriander

Cooking Directions:
How to cook, first start by boiling the pasta with a pinch of salt and then marinate the lentils for an hour. Next mix the lentils, rice, and oil and grill them for 5 minutes.

To finish put the mixed rice on medium heat to cook along with salt and pepper and cover the rice with 3 cups of hot water. 

As for the salsa; add the garlic, tomato, coriander, and vinegar on a grill for 5 minutes with all the spices.

The last twist (the garnish).
Slice the onion in thin layers, dip them in flour and then fry them till they turn a bit black.
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