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  Season 8 - Episode 812

Egyptian Foods

Egyptian Foods

Egyptian Foods

Egyptian Foods

  Egyptian Foods

It's easy to think that many foods in California originated right here. But as we've seen, that's far from the truth. This is Egypt. The cradle of civilization and the birthplace of many foods we Californians have come to call our own.

We're rightfully proud of our "young" California wines, but the Egyptians have a leg up. They've been cultivating wine grapes for more than 5000 years. During the age of the pharaohs, the best wines were set-aside for royalty. Even buried with them.

Egypt's fertility springs from the Nile, the world's longest river. Beginning deep in the heart of Africa, it winds its way 4000 miles north to the Mediterranean. In this desert country, a narrow strip of irrigated land feeds some 60 million people. Egyptian chef Sameh Samaan says, "This is called 'jack grout' and it's with herbs and olive oil…it's also an Italian dish." And while Egyptian chefs adapt local ingredients to please western palates, ancient flavors and traditional foods are always close at hand.

By 2600 BC, Egyptians were in the bread-baking business: they discovered sourdough as a leavening agent. So, sorry San Francisco…The Egyptians had it first.

While pre-made hummus, tahini, and tabouli are easy to find in California grocery stores (there are even dry mixes where you just add water), baba ghanoush is harder to come by. So here's an easy recipe to make fresh at home.

Baba Ghanoush

(makes 8 appetizer servings)
2 pounds peeled, cooked crushed eggplant
2 cloves (or more for garlic lovers) minced garlic
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 to 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped mint

Combine all ingredients, reserving a bit of mint to sprinkle on top of the dip. Serve with warm wedges of pita bread. You can lightly sprinkle paprika on top for additional color.






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