Wednesday, December 28, 2011


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…!

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