Ostaz Hamam: Hearty Egyptian Dishes in Heliopolis
For many of us, the allure of Egypt are the modest Cairo restaurants hidden away inside narrow side-streets and depilated alleyways; usually over-looked by passers-by, they tend to provide exceptional services. One such eatery, Ostaz Hamam, was once known for its signature stuffed and roasted pigeon dishes. Since growing in popularity, the restaurant has expanded its menu to include a wide variety of grilled items and sandwiches.
The place is by no means fancy, and in fact, could be described as kitschy. With ceramic brick walls and an eclectic mix of florescent and ornamental lamps, the decor is far from pleasant on the eye.
Most popular for take-away, we had no trouble finding a table and were immediately tended to. A complimentary basket of fresh baladi bread was served alongside an incredibly spicy, homemade chilli sauce. We began our feast with tehina (6LE), baba ghanough (6LE) and tomeya dips (6LE), all of which were deliciously savoury and seasoned to perfection. In particular, the house speciality of flavourful tomeya stood out as one of the best we’ve had.
Coming to the main courses, we ordered lamb kofta (26LE), chicken penne (26LE) and stuffed pigeon (30LE). The waiter kindly informed us that the lamb kofta is actually a mixture ground lamb, veal and ‘kandoos’ – meat from aging cow. Surprisingly, our mains were delivered in next to no time and came with a side of brown rice, French fries and decorative salad garnishes topped with a dollop of tomeya.
Served as four massive fillets, the chicken penne was a crunchy, breaded shroud, housing incredibly tender chicken breasts. Although a little oily, it was delicious nonetheless. The lamb kofta had a smoky, mouth-watering flavour that didn’t rely on the pungency of the onions; its robust texture and generous size made for an incredibly filling dish. The stuffed pigeon was served whole, deep fried and complete with the spine and the head. Naturally, pigeons don’t contain a lot of meat, however the mixture of fluffy, seasoned rice and liver pieces was delicious in itself.
Ostaz Hamam is another addition to the many restaurants in Cairo that truly proves you don’t need to break the bank in order to have an appetising meal.