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Downtown, Cairo, Egypt.
Nut Shop: Fresh Cashews and Pistachios
It’s quite standard in Egypt to find shops everywhere selling fresh and flavourful nuts at seriously low prices. Amongst the variety of delicious and cheap street food found around Cairo are inconspicuous nut shops, bursting with freshly shelled nuts of all kinds piled high behind glass counters.
On Nubar Street in Bab El Louk next door to El Shabrawy’s, this little nut shop is one of our favourite stopping points in the area. While at first glance it looks like your typical stop-and-go place for sunflower seeds, if you look a little closer; you’ll discover they have more to offer. From the traditional pumpkin seeds to little white candies, finding something for each, individual palette doesn’t take much.
While the salted peanuts are usually subpar for only 8LE for a quarter kilo, the cashews are beyond heavenly; perfectly crunchy, salty and bursting with flavour. They’re delicious on their own but also pair well with yogurt, and make a nice addition to a green salad. Not only are fresh cashews a rare find, but compared to the cost and value at your local grocery store; they’re definitely some of the best. For 1/4 kilo, you’ll pay a mere 16LE.
If you’re looking for something a little more decadent and snack-worthy, the chocolate-covered peanuts are addictive. Running along the same quarter-kilo scale, they cost around 12LE. Shelled pistachios are 18LE, and like the cashews, they usually run out rather quickly.
The guys running the shop are always friendly and manage to get you in and out rather quickly, even when there’s a line. And when you don’t know what you’re looking at; make sure to ask for a sample. They’re more than willing to share!
Located on Ahmed Heshmat Street, not far from Ismail Mohamed Street, Negmet Heshmat is typically overflowing with fresh produce. The tiny shop is without fanfare and completely unadorned, save the edible greenery spilling out onto the sidewalk. Beckoning passersby with crates of lettuce and herbs, the shop lets its produce speak for itself.
The shop’s interior is split evenly between vegetables and fruits. All the standard vegetable offerings are available, including onion, potatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, peppers and cauliflower. Harder to find items including asparagus, leeks, and broccoli (8LE per kilo) are usually on hand as well.
Fruits include whatever is in season; at the moment, beautiful citrus, pomegranates and apples (12LE per kilo) are available. Negmet Heshmat also offer a few items imported from elsewhere in the region, including plums and avocados (around 10LE per piece).
It is rare that you’ll find fruits and vegetables that have wilted or gone off – the employees seem to take great pride in providing optimum quality produce. The exception to this are the few items sold wrapped in Styrofoam trays, which occasionally disappoint.