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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Koshary El Tahrir: One of Cairo's Biggest Koshary Chains Opens in Maadi
In Egypt, the name Tahrir is synonymous with two things; the revolution and the best known koshary restaurant in Cairo. Right in the centre of the bustling El Nasr Street in Maadi, a new and extremely well-furnished branch of Koshary El Tahrir has opened. This new branch opened in the last days of Ramadan, and since then El Nasr Street has become even more crowded and congested because of people dining at its latest addition.
The Maadi restaurant itself is nothing like the koshary chain’s other modest branches; the restaurant consists of two floors with tens of tables and chairs that are very well-organized and comfortable. A sleekly designed banner and spotlights dispersed throughout the venue give the restaurant a modern and funky image that isn’t normally associated with a koshary restaurant.
The staff at Koshary Tahrir is very helpful and friendly, and the service is quite fast and efficient. The koshary itself is delicious especially after using their amazing da’a (lemon, vinegar and garlic dressing)and salsa (tomato sauce). Spicy food lovers beware; their shatta (spicy chilli sauce) is very strong.
The prices at Koshary El Tahrir are not that different from other leading koshary restaurants: the small size costs 3.50LE, medium size costs 5.50LE, the large size is for 7LE while the king size sells for 8LE, and the mega size (enough for three people) sells for 20LE. This reviewer found the king size portion more than enough for a hungry stomach. Additionally, extra tomato sauce, humus or lentils cost 1LE, and after such a heavy meal, you might want to try their delicious rice pudding or mahalabeya for 3LE to cool down.
As with all good koshary joints, the restaurant caters as quickly to those wanting to take-out as they do to those wanting to dine in, and have a swuft and efficient delivery service.
Soft drinks are available at Koshary El Tahrir, including a large cup of Pepsi for 4.50LE, and a small size for 3.50LE.
Even though legend always speaks of the great koshary of Downtown Cairo, Koshary El Tahrir’s latest branch in Maadi more than holds its own. Yes, it is uncharacteristically sleek and modern, but that hasn’t taken away anything from the authenticity of this staple Egyptian dish.
Is there no end to new restaurants in Cairo? Feteera opened at the beginning of March and like many of the brand new eateries which pop up out of nowhere in Zamalek, it looks to be a hip joint from the outside. However, Fateera avoids being pretentious; its walls may be adorned with indie pop art images, but its main feature is a huge stone oven at the back – which, far from being a mere gimmick, turned out to be a wonder when it comes to cooking pies.
In Egypt, feteera can translate into anything from ‘pie' or 'pancake' to 'pizza' – balady-style – so those new to the dish may be curious as to what they'll receive. Although the menu reads ‘pie’, the selection of toppings suggests pizza, and as we waited for our ‘feteera’ to arrive we were further perplexed as we watched the chef sculpt the dough into an assortment of shapes, looking suspiciously like a pancake.
On offer from Feteera’s menu are vegetarian, cheese, seafood and chicken or meat dishes, plus additional toppings which are available for between 2LE-11LE.We ordered a Chicken and Pesto Pie (52LE) and a Mushroom Roll (25LE).
When the food arrived, it was piping hot, but we were still none-the-wiser about what to call it. We can best describe it as a crispy pancake stuffed with pizza-style fillings, so the best word for this creation may indeed be: pie. The Chicken and Pesto Pie was creamy and delicious, offering a good balance of flavour with plenty of chicken to fill the 12 inch dish. The pastry was cooked beautifully and formed a light flakey casing for the chewy cheesy center. Slightly worrying were the grease stains left at the bottom of the dish and after our cutlery failed to live up to the job, using our fingers to eat the pie turned out to be messy business.
The roll was a crispy pancake wrap, such as to rival Lebanon’s manouche. It contained roasted peppers, which despite not having been specified on the menu were a warming addition to what was otherwise a very plain snack. The mushrooms were slightly undercooked and hadn’t properly infused with the other flavours and despite the encouraging chunks of garlic and olives, all were tasteless. The roll proved to be too doughy and plain, losing all its taste despite the crunchy chewy texture we bit into at first boded well.
For dessert we treated ourselves to the Mars wrap (28LE) and a Banana and Peanut Butter wrap (29LE). Feteera could have been more generous with the amount of chocolate but the peanut butter and banana combination was a triumph, if we do say so ourselves. It tasted buttery and soft, filled with just the right amount of ripe banana.
Though feteer with toppings is nothing new, this Egyptian pie house gets the thumbs up from us for bringing a traditional Egyptian dish up to date, allowing diners to fill up on an authentic dish with a modern Zamalek twist.