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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Shawermer: One of Maadi's Top Shawerma Chains
Egypt has experienced a serious influx of Syrian cuisine over the last couple of years. But the biggest cultural export we seem to have taken from the Levant is Shawerma, so we decided to stop by a shawerma joint that's been around since before a shawerma joint opened up on every corner.
Shawermer, opposite the Grand Mall in Maadi, has the same flashy black, red and yellow colours the other branches do. The interior area is relatively small, with two rows on either side where you can dine in, and most of the space is taken up by the kitchen and the vertical spits.
The menu has seen two small additions since Shawermer first opened, the Sogo' Shawerma and Hot Dog Shawerma, both of which don't sound particularly appealing, so we stuck to the classics everyone else is likely to order.
Without further hassle we decided we wanted Chicken Shawerma combo (25LE) and a Kabab Shawerma (14LE). Presented in white Styrofoam boxes, the Shawerma comes with a plastic box of pickled cucumbers and thomiya/tehina.
The Chicken Shawerma is just as good as it used to be, with just the right amount of charring on the chicken to give it a bit of flavour and texture. Combined with the toasted saj bread, thomiya and pickled cucumbers, the Chicken Shawerma was a definite success.
The Kabab Shawerma was just as satisfying, featuring Iranian Kabab, which we know in Egypt as Kofta, but with a slight difference in seasoning, the rest of the sandwich features parsley, tomatoes and tehina, similar to a regular meat shawerma. The Kabab was juicy and very flavourful and the side of french fries is actually surprisingly above average, retaining an excellent crunch on the outside and a soft fluffy inside.
Shawermer is a pleasant experience. When it first opened its doors, the prices were above average, which always made you consider why it was so much more expensive than the average shawerma, but now, as everything else's prices have increased while Shawermer has stayed pretty much the same, it scores much better on value for money. The service is quick and efficient while the restaurant itself is relatively clean. The dine-in experience, however, isn't one you'll come back for.
With an ever-increasing Syrian population in Egypt, Cairo has witnessed a rise in the number of restaurants and fast food venues offering dishes from the Levant. Craving some authentic Syrian eats for breakfast, we headed over to Al Jinani, a restaurant in the Syrian district in 6th of October city.
Taking a stroll right across from El Hussary Mosque, we entered said Syrian District a busy area boasting dozens of restaurants and fast food venues with typical Syrian choices on the menu, including shawerma, fattah and kebab halabi amongst others.
At every corner of the district, there are grocery shops selling Syrian goods including cheese, nuts and olive oil, not to mention dozens of confectionaries offering Syrian desserts including Konafa Nabulsiya and Halwa Al Jibn.
Like most of the restaurants in the district, Al Jinani has a simple outdoorsy setting on the sidewalk. We sat down to enjoy the sun and the cool morning breeze.
After the friendly waiter’s recommendation, we opted for a platter of regular Syrian foul (8LE), foul with milk (8LE), falafel (5LE), Tase’yee (10LE) and Mosabaha (7LE) – Syrian hummus – which were all served with a side of pickles.
Cooked with chickpeas, chopped tomatoes and drizzled with olive oil, our foul was quite flavourful with the garlic, parsley and lemon giving it just the right punch. The foul with milk had essentially the same ingredients as the regular foul, only with the addition of yoghurt and tehina and was even more flavourful than the first, with the tehina yoghurt twist perfectly complementing its components.
Unlike the Egyptian version, Syrian falafel is made out of chickpeas instead of fava beans, which gave it a lighter green colour and it was hot, crunchy and as delicious as any you’ll find in Cairo. With a texture similar to the tehina paste, our Mosabaha made with chickpeas was light, creamy and overall quite enjoyable.
The coup de grace, however, was the Tase’yee. Served with essentially the same ingredients we tasted in our foul – chickpeas, tomatoes, parsley and tehina – but without the foul and with the addition of fried bread pieces and margarine on top; though it was quite heavy, it was by far the highlight of our breakfast and we couldn’t get enough of it.
All in all, our breakfast experience at Al Jinani was quite delightful and as much as we think nothing can beat our good old Egyptian foul medames, we really enjoyed the distinctive Syrian flavours introduced in Al Jinani’s dishes. It’s an experience you’re likely to repeat more than once, especially if you’re a fan of Syrian cuisine.