From sea bass to beetroot tahina

Suzanne Zeidy’s latest production is a new benchmark in the presentation of Egyptian cuisine and culture. The local businesswoman and restauranteur celebrated the launch of her “Cairo Kitchen Cookbook” with a gathering at La Bodega Apertivo & Bistro in Zamalek on November 20.

Author Zeidy is one of the owners of Cairo Kitchen and La Bodega, and a founder of Cilantro. In the book’s introduction, Zeidy writes about her move back to Egypt from the US and the inspiration behind her decision to bring a European-style restaurant bar to Egypt with La Bodega.

While these projects were and remain a great success, Zeidy and her business partners have a different mission now: to put a spotlight on Egyptian culture and food with a modern and accessible twist.

With a culinary degree and an MBA, Zeidy has made the most of her passion, education and experience. Both La Bodega and Cairo Kitchen have great reputations for the quality of their food and dining atmosphere.

The beautiful thing about Cairo Kitchen and the concept of “Cairo Kitchen Cookbook” comes from the use of local ingredients in original recipes that are based on traditional dishes. “Cairo Kitchen Cookbook” features a home-cooking style, including koshari and spiced rotisserie chicken but steps out a little with a mix of fereek (a toasted cracked wheat grain) and liver or hummus with coriander. At the Cairo Kitchen itself, there is a different daily special, from molokheya to moussaka.

“Cairo Kitchen Cookbook” goes even further. Zeidy gives the reader recipes for breakfast, appetizers, lunch and dinner, as well as desserts, all based on some of Egypt’s most famous dishes. But the author has improvised and added new ingredients to traditional fare – from bites of sea bass with babaghanoug and pomegranates (this was served at the book launch and it was delicious) to a beetroot tahina dip. Dessert could be the classic zalabia (fried dough balls) or hibiscus-poached pears.

The book is a work of art. Beautiful photographs by Jonathan Gregson bring Zeidy’s recipes to life. In addition to photographs of the dishes, there are artistic shots of the ingredients used and Egypt scenes.

“Cairo Kitchen Cookbook” (Solihull, UK: Tzyk Publishing) is available at Diwan Bookstore for LE295.

Nevine El-Shabrawy 

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