Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mawanusa Blog: Tamiya

Mawanusa Blog: Tamiya: Let me take you to a culinary tour to Egypt most-favorite mouth watering street food called Ta’amiyya, an earlier stage or original fascinat...


Let me take you to a culinary tour to Egypt most-favorite mouth watering street food called Ta’amiyya, an earlier stage or original fascinating recipes of the famous falafel. 

Ta’amiyya, Ta’ameeya or Tamiya whatever it is, made from grounded dried fava bean paste combine with some aromatic herb, spices, seasonings, and forms to a small cake or ball and then deep-fried to crisp golden brown. This tiny little cake is then becoming an ambassador of delicacy of a country called Egypt.

Getting around Cairo or elsewhere throughout Egypt you will easily recognize this street food that will craving to try and taste the crunchiness with some salad in the pocket of half of baladi bread and tahina, the other half of the bread. Mmmm it really sounds so yummy as this is my favorite snack from Middle East. I tried falafel few occasions but to me tamiya tastes better, crisp, in deep green color and the texture of the rough dough will add the character of tamiya and give a hint of ancient look of the dish.

About the image above: Dried Fava beans, the main ingredient for tamiya

About the image above: To form balls of tamiya by hand

About the image above: To deep-fry the tamiyas at one corner of the stall

About the image above: Tamiya on the deep-fryer

About the image above: Fried tamiya

About the image above: A seller with a tamiya chef

About the image above: Typical Egyptian tamiya counter

About the image above: South Sinai City

Composition of the tamiya:

Dried fava bean: is very rich source of calories, carbohydrate, protein as well as good source for fiber but very less fat.

Garlic: is one of the ‘super spice’, has pungent flavor but give a hint that build the character of the dish. Garlic contains an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral activity that also use as medicine. It is source of energy, rich in potassium, vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium and carbohydrate. Besides that, garlic also contains iron, zinc, magnesium, sodium, sugar, fiber, protein, beta carotene, foliate, vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 and B9, and low fat.

Flat-leaf parsley: parsley usually grows as companion plant to protect other plant such as tomatoes. Parsley will give greenish color to the tamiya. Parsley is known as a cleanser of kidney. This plant is also source of energy, rich in vitamin K, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B9, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. Also contains vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6, iron, zinc, protein, fiber, carbohydrate, sugar and very low fat.

Cilantro leaf or coriander leaf: give a scented green color as additional to flat-leaf parsley. Combination of the coriander leaf and parsley give more sensitive aroma to the tamiya with a strong smell of this leaves and soft fragrant of the parsley. Coriander leaves are rich in vitamin A and C and also contain fiber, carbohydrate, low fat and protein.

Scallion or spring onions: known as a part of onion family with bulbs that believes cultivated since long time about 4000 BC. Spring onions are green and contain several nutritional value that use as medicine, anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatory, etc. in food, spring onion give a perfect infusion and release a specific aroma when cook, stimulate the palate and invite the us to come to the table to have the dish contain spring onion as of tamiya.

Cumin powder: this is Mediterranean spice and widely use in Indian and Middle East cuisine. Cumin known since pharaonic era as a spice that gives a distinctive aroma to the food. Cumin seeds are rich in magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, iron, calcium, carbohydrate, and vitamin A. Beside those nutrients, it is also contain zinc, sugar, fiber, fat, protein, vitamin B2, B3, B6, B9, B12, C, E and K.

The nutrient of the tamiya will also added when you season with some salt, and during frying process, some of the oil will give effect of the crispiness to the outer part. To serve in a pocket of whole wheat pita bread with shredded lettuce, cucumber, sliced tomatoes and a spoon of tahina will really give you enough nutrients for the day. To add a little baking powder will absolutely change the texture of tamiya in your mouth.

About the image above: Baladi pocket bread to serve tamiya

About the image above: Composition of serving tamiya

About the image above: Fried tamiya on the plate

About the image above: Sometime tamiya also serve with soft white cheese and sliced tomatoes

Recipe for tamiya

From my observation I was surprise; I never found a tamiya vendor prepare their tamiya using recipes. The only thing they use is common sense. They used to prepare such ingredients for almost every day in their life, so that why they do not need a recipe for that.

For reference here I noted the ingredients the combine to a green mixture.

Dried fava bean (Egyptian beans) about 2 cups
Garlic about 2 cloves or depend to your taste
Parsley leaves about a cup
Coriander leaves about a quarter cup
Green part of scallions about a cup
Cumin powder about a pinch or you put more if you wish to have stronger aroma
Salt to season
Baking powder about ½ -1 teaspoons

To prepare the paste, you will need to soak the fava beans in the water for at least 24 hours; this is allow the beans absorb water and releases it skin easily. You will need to collect the soaked beans and combine with garlic, parsley leaves, coriander leaves, green scallions and cumin powder in food processor and turn them into a paste. Season lightly with salt and sprinkle with baking powder and them mix well.  Keep covered in a container for few minutes to allow the baking powder give bubbles and mix within the mixture.

Prepare a deep-fryer or a pot with oil to about 350-380 degrees. Form into balls or small cakes and deep-fry to a crisp golden brown balls or cakes.
To serve the tamiya you may need some whole wheat pita breads cut into pockets. The pita breads that usually I bought from the bread stall in down town Cairo. Or you can make your own pita bread. Then you place the shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, cucumber and tamiya in the pocket and drizzle a bit with some tahina dip. The tamiya is now ready to eat.

My recipe for tahina dip

1 cup tahini (sesame paste)
3 pieces lemon juice
Salt, freshly ground pepper
4 cloves crushed garlic
4-5 tablespoons water
We can buy the ready to use tahini or sesame paste from Middle East store. Open it and combine this is thick paste with some water, lemon juice and if you want to have garlic then you add crush garlic. But the taste of tahina with crushed garlic is really amazing, sharp, bit pungent and mmmmm……! The rest of the sensations you will experiences when you try it.

Some time people like to eat tamiya with some creamy white cheese, pickles, sliced tomatoes and sliced cucumber. This absolutely is up to you really, but it is nice to follow the habit and attitude of how the local did. Have fun……..! And walk like Egyptians…!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mawanusa Blog: An Introduction to the Bedouin Tea

Mawanusa Blog: An Introduction to the Bedouin Tea: Talking about Bedouin tea, this tribe has their very own special blend of tea which the collected from various dessert plan...

An Introduction to the Bedouin Tea

Talking about Bedouin tea, this tribe has their very own special blend of tea which the collected from various dessert plants. Might be in the beginning they just do try and error until they really picked up the right ingredients to create amazing blend of dried leaves and herbs.

It is becoming an attractive cultural tradition of the Bedouin tribe now to have a cup of tea in the middle of the desert and invite lots of tourist who want to experience this unique event.

Even now, some of this tribe less nomadic, but the tradition from generations will remain, simple life style as drinking tea from the cup that really ethnical.
On one occasion, one of my Bedouin friends invited me for afternoon tea in his tent.  This is first time for me to experience with this strange tribe. They are very warm, welcoming to other peoples to their house to have a cup of tea.

About the image above: Group of camels in the desert

About the image above: Dessert plants that might useful for something.
The plant grows pesistantly in an extreme heat with now water for such long time 

The basic tea blend in the Bedouin village comes from a dried leaves of dessert plant called ‘maramia’ or ‘marmaraya’, is naturally grown in the Sinai desert between Moses Mountain and Saint Katherine Mountain and only will appear there after the heavy rain probably January –March every year. The tribe will collect the leaves and dried it up the keep for longer shelf life.

From the ancient Egyptian text called ‘Papyrus Ebers’ (from about 1500 BC) noted various herb and spices that beneficial to human and the explain that ‘maramia’ leaves used to treat some dieses like high blood sugar and improve blood circulation through main and minor capillaries. The leaves also can improve our digestive system and increase the function of liver, maintained urine system, help to obtain the shape of the body and weight control. By simply drinking a cup of tea will help also to stop diarrhea and other stomach related dieses, restore mental function and improve memory, cure sore throats, help overcome cold and coughing and many more function that slowly will sure to discover.

About the image above: Bedouin dessert, so quiet, only windy sound 
is passing by and hot sunshine

About the image above: One of the Bedouin house between the rocks

Marmaraya or maramia actually is one of desert sage family. The smell of the leaves is like a minty mixture of anise basil and elegant aroma of thymine. The leaves will give you a strong taste of bitterness when it boils in hot water. The dried leaves will spread the subtle fragrant of unforgettable aroma that will remain you for something that you experience for long time.

My first experience with Bedouin tea was after my whole day discovering the pyramid at Giza. A friend invited me to have tea in a small stall. I found the tea was a bit strange taste and he explained that was Bedouin tea. I love the herbal aroma with minty taste.  Because the tea taste was bit bitter so I add some sugar to give sweetness and was fine. The color of the tea was like just normal English tea, dark tea color. But after all I discovered that actually they mixed the tea blend with Libyan black tea leaves.

About the image above: Desert sage plant, a Bedouin tea leaf

About the image above: The Bedouin blend of sage tea 
with dried galangal in the background

About the image above: Boiling tea leaves to prepare the drink

About the image above: Even the funnel can be a strainer of an exotic tea

Then I traveled for my work to Sharm El Sheikh. After few weeks of work I incidentally visited a market that sell. I start asking about the Bedouin tea, how it work and get some info about this amazing blend. Every stall has their own way of preparing this tea (they are not Bedouin), until one of my Bedouin friend prepare their real Bedouin tea. The very basic blend is the dried sage leaves, boil in amount of water. If they have some sugar, they will add in it, or otherwise they will drink the tea without sugar.

I love my Bedouin tea with some honey, so yummy. This recipe will give you a life time memory of the aroma of the tea.


There were no such recipes for any blends in any Bedouin villages, if you need stronger taste, you may add more leaves, or less for lesser taste. Sound like very flexible or a thoughtful measurement of experience and tradition of mother tongue guidance to a palate.

About the image above: My recipe of Bedouin tea is now ready to serve

 Here I just give my assumption of weight for both ingredients to make easier for friend and viewers.

dried desert sage leaves (probably about 2-3 tablespoons)
water (maybe about 2½ cups)

Boil the tea leaves in slow fire for about 12 minutes and off the fire. Cover the pot tightly to ensure that tea has been infused to the liquid (water), this is about 5 minutes. And after you can strain the tea and pour to the cup to enjoy the drink while it still warm.  Will refresh your memory and give you mental strength. You can add some sugar if you like to avoid the bitterness of the leaves.

About the image above: Ahmed Nasr and Ibrahim Sharadi are enjoying my Bedouin tea  drink

In my Bedouin tea recipe, I would like to add 2-3 tablespoons of pure honey to the recipe above instead of sugar. The honey will give better texture of this herbal tea, to soften the aroma of the sage leaves and almost wipe-out the bitterness of the taste. I like the sage tea only without additional of black tea, give more delicate aroma to the tea cup.


Since then, many visitors interact with the local Bedouin, the recipe blend maybe varies. Few peoples like to create their own recipes by adding black tea, cinnamon sticks, cardamom buds, rosebuds, etc.  All recipes are good and very interesting to try. Bedouin tea powder is also available now in the market but the taste is a bit different. I suggest you to try the sage tea at home as alternative of your afternoon tea habit of having a normal tea, earl grey tea, green tea or other type of tea. Try a Bedouin tea for sure!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mawanusa Blog: The Art of Belly Dancing Performances

Mawanusa Blog: The Art of Belly Dancing Performances: If you wish to visit Middle East or Egypt to be precise, you will not miss the most popular ancient attraction of belly dan...

The Art of Belly Dancing Performances

If you wish to visit Middle East or Egypt to be precise, you will not miss the most popular ancient attraction of belly dancer, a dance that movements and sequences so energetic and erotic. Dances that give you lots of energies and make your blood circulation pump up faster trough the music and the rhythm of the performers.

About the image above: A belly dancer performance 
at Stella Di Mare Sharm El Sheik, Egypt

In this occasion I would give you most of my view s based on the belly dancer in Egypt, as I watched the dance only in this country.

Here, belly dancer is called Raqs Sharqi means erotic dance of the belly or stomach. This unique movement of the belly muscles, a chest and hip move is really suitable and maybe designed especially for Arabic female body. The dance itself is really complex and full of energy yet smooth, sometimes is really firm and earthy with combination of hip movement, shimmy, body, belly, chest, head, hands to form a sensual imagination.

Belly dancers will have a nice beautiful body; correct posture of body will help the dancers perform more confidence, easier to create sensational movements and of course will attract the audience with their talents.

About the image above: An Egyptian figure spread her wings 
while dancing, photo taken at art market, Egypt

About the image above: A belly dancer performance, 
she dances under the moonlight, Sinai, Egypt

Important movements on the dance are:

Focus on belly muscles. The vibration of the stomach muscles created fusions that gives the name to this dance as Belly Dancing. Characteristic and size of the belly of the dancers will show how good that she can dance. The smaller the belly size will give make the dancer look more sensual and erotic. The vibration of the belly is like a ‘kpal bhati pranayam’ in yoga session; with faster rhythms. Exercising belly give a stronger muscles and better performance. To keep belly healthy is very importance, to show the belly is sensual is a must for every dancer.

Chest. With fitted bra, will press the bubs and give sensual effect to the dancer. Bigger bubs will make the dancer easier to attract the audiences with minimum movement.

Hip. With shimmy movement will create amazing vibration of the beautiful hip. The performers may combine few movement with different speeds, contraction of the muscles, or move in different directions, back and forward swing motion, side to side or up and down.

Combination. Dancers will show movement of the chest, belly, hip and maybe using hairs and hands to create a fluid sensation on the stage.

About the image above: A belly dancer performs an opening movement with golden Izis wings spread up, lead by the rhythm of the Arabic music

About the image above: A belly dancer is forming a side-to-side movement

The dances look like very spontaneous follow the music either live music or sound system. And as I see, the dancers really enjoy dancing, interpreted the music, lead the dancer in any directions, event sometime the dancer singing while dancing.

A belly dancer will perform barefoot and fitted costumes, which are included:
Bra (fitted design, decorated beautifully with beads, coins, sequins, and braid and sometime also have embroidery)

Skirt (the color of the skirt maybe dark or black, or very eye catching color like orange, dark green, blue, etc. Skirt also with fitted design, colorful, embroidery)

Belt (with rich design of beads, coins and sometime very colorful. It may the belt is designed to be part of the skirt.

Hand bands (with ornament use around the hands)

Head bands (sometime also ethnical and folkloric pieces)

Piercing also sometime also in use

Sometimes using wing of Izis or butterfly alike

May also have some bindis or temporary tattoo design around the hip, hands or belly area

About the image above: A belly dancer shown from the backside; 
skirt of the dancer with colorful design

About the image above: A belly dancer moves her body up and down
to form a combination fusion between chest and belly

Historically is very hard to track the evidence on how this dance has been invented. From few notes that has been captured around Egypt, only show that similar act appear in an old painting on the tomb (from 14th century BC) that maybe this is similarly to the dancers acted. I tried to ask few Egyptian friends and older generations, but the answers are almost nobody knows exactly how this amazing tradition maintain it popularity for such long time and still exist until today.

Nowadays, belly dancer performances can easily be found in every hotels and restaurants around Egypt. Most of the hotels show this cultural performance to their residents every week or two to introduce local art and culture. Most of the visitors are really enjoy and appreciate this event as one of the most unique occasion while they are in the country.

Here I will give you four dishes that may become favorite food for belly dancers

LABNEH – Lebanese Yogurt

Also known as strained yogurt or hang curd which is yogurt that placed in clean muslin cloth and traditionally it hang at least for 24 hours to make sure most of the water contains drop down and leave the curd, to make the yogurt really thick and creamy.

About the image above: Labneh, favorite dish throughout Middle East

8 cups of Greek yogurt or hang curd
salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

Prepare clean cheesecloth on a colander. Place the yogurt into the cloth and hang it at least for 20-24 hours to drain the excess liquid. After draining, transfer the yogurt to a clean bowl, season with salt and pour the olive oil. Keep the labneh in the fridge.

The labneh is good to consume with some cut fresh vegetables; carrot stick, cucumber stick, tomatoes, celery, bell peppers or other favorite food of yours.

Labneh made of yogurt is amazingly rich, creamy, yummy and thick. Good sources for lean protein.

HUMMUS - Chickpea Puree

Hummus means dip or spread, came from Turkish language. This is one of the Middle East ancient food and people from all over the world love it including myself. Rich in nutrients as one of the beans or pulses appear as a super food. Good source of protein and dietary fiber, which contain of iron, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and foliate. Excellent menu for vegetarian diet, usually eat with pita bread or other dish as a dipping sauce.

About the image above:  Healthy chickpeas pureedip called Hummus

1 cup of chickpea puree (use canned chickpea and make puree in the food processor)
2-3 tablespoons of tahina paste
2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
½ teaspoon of cumin powder
2 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
salt to taste

In a clean blender, combine the ingredients and to a creamy paste then transfer to clean bowl, check the seasoning and keep covered in the fridge for later use.

Try to enjoy this excellent hummus dip with vegetables, pita bread or other favorite dishes of yours


Couscous is the grain family that considers the healthiest one.  Rich in foliate, vitamin B6, thiamine, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, niacin and many things still undiscovered. The profile of couscous is really amazing grain. You can cook it and combine with anything you like to add. Good as a vegetarian dish. This is one of my favorite diets.

About the image above: Couscous salad, rich in nutrients and a healthy diet

1½ cups of cooked couscous
1 bunch of fresh coriander or cilantro leaves
salt to taste
3½ tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 piece of lemon juice
½ cup of brunoised tomatoes
¼ cups of chopped fresh parsley leaves
3 tablespoons of chopped black olives
2 tablespoons of brunoised tricolors capsicums
1 piece of grilled chicken breast (optional)

In a clean bowl, combine all of the ingredients and toss carefully to enhance the taste. Keep covered in the fridge about 15 minutes for cooler salad or you can consume immediately with any of your favorite grilled chicken, grilled meat or fish!

Note: to cook couscous you need amount of water and boil the couscous until it cook about 8-10 minutes. Need little bit longer time if you wish to have a creamy couscous. May you need to flavor it with herb or saffron, or fish and chicken, is up to your preferences.  I like my couscous with a little hint of saffron to add the taste, gives a delicate aroma and of course the nutrients. Saffron is good as anti-oxidants to neutralize free radicals, anti-aging fans, to renew filling and rebalance mood, to decrease tumor production, to treat colds, coughs, pneumonia, asthma and many more.


The salad is really simple. Tomato, cucumber, onion this is the basic of the salad. This salad will serve in three meal of the day in any occasion. Fresh and healthy and match with any dishes that you may enjoy, this salad will give you a fresh hint.

About the image above: Fresh Arabic salad served for employees 
dining hall, taken by phone camera

½ cup of red tomato, maybe heirloom, after seeded, cut into cube
1/3 cup of red onions clean and cut into cube
½ cup of green baby cucumber, cut into cube
1 of lemon juice
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
milled black pepper to taste

In a clean bowl, combine all of the salad and toss them with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cover with plastic film and let stay in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to cool down the salad and give time for the vinaigrette to infuse the salad. Serve with your favorite dish or crumble some feta cheese to add texture and nutrients.


The original tabboulah is from Levantine cuisine, meaning seasoning. Nowadays tabboulah is becoming part of the mezza selection in Middle East cuisine. The dish is very refreshing, and good for vegetarian choice of dish. You can combine with chicken, meat or prawns as you wish, but the best way to have this is the simplest one with a basic recipe as appear bellow.

About the image above: Tabboulah created by Chef Emad Attia 
in Sharm El sheikh.

3 cups of chopped fresh flat parsley
1/3 cup of fresh mint leaves
1 cup of cooked bulgur
3 pieces of chopped tomatoes
1 piece of chopped medium green cucumber
5 cloves of minced garlic
1 piece of chopped red onion
salt to taste
2/3 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil

In a clean bowl, combine all of the ingredients and toss them well. Season the salad with salt and then cover with plastic film to refrigerate it for 2-3 hours before serving. Toss again prior to serving to mix the seasoning and salad together.