Molasses / عسل أسود - عسل سرياقوسي

Known in Egypt as 'black honey', molasses is extracted from sugar cane, which grows well in Egypt's hot summers.

Traditionally kept for relatively long periods in earthenware jars known as ballas بلاص, it does not need refrigiration.

Molasses is used to sweeten some dessert dishes and jam-like preserves.

It is also used as a snack dip and dessert, in combination with tahini and pita bread.

Halawa Tahinia / Halwa / Halva حلاوة طحينية

Halawa Tahinia is made from tahini (sesame seed paste), combined with sugar, and shaped into blocks.

Traditionally, halawa was made in two varieties, a hard brittle type, and a less common chewy dough like variety. Both were sold in tins. 

Nowadays, many additions and variations exist, such as halwa with pistachios, halwa with chocolate, halwa with hazelnuts, and more.

Halwa is eaten as a filling in sandwiches made from pita bread.

Because it is rich in calories and filling, and not expensive, it is a staple of the working class. It also need no fridge to keep for a long time.

Tahini طحينة

Tahini is made from sesame seeds, pressed into a paste. The closest resemblance to North  American food would be peanut butter.

Tahini is used in Egyptian and other Middle Eastern dishes.

It is a major ingredient in many dips, such as Baba Ghanoug, as well as sweets like Halva/Halawa. 

Resources and links on Egyptian cuisine recipe ingredients

We would like to point out a set of pages that have a lot of info on ingredients of Egyptian cuisine.

Here are the ingredients page, and make sure you check the table of contents as well.

Gum Mastic / Mesteka مستكة

Known in Egypt as Mesteka, the Mastic resin is used in many Egyptian dishes, ranging from soups to meat and desserts.

The Greeks seem to think that this ingredient is unique to them, but it is not. In Turkey, Syria and Lebanon, the dondurma ice cream is made with Mastic.

The resin has a unique flavor and can be chewed like gum, where the translucent hard droplets turn into opaque white.


Qamar El Din : Dried Apricot Extract قمر الدين

Qamar El Din قمر الدين literllay means : Moon Of Religion, although the etymology is unknown. It may have originated in Syria where apricot has been a crop for centuries, and a method of preservation was to dry it with sugar for later use.

It is made from sweetened dried apricot extract packaged as sheets in orange colored cellophane.

It is used to make a juice, also called Qamar El Din (see recipe), as well as an orange sweet pudding called Meshmesheya.

Karkade: Roselle 'Ennab كركديه عناب

Karkade is the dried petals of a Hibiscus plant called Roselle.