I believe it is safe to say that Hawawshi is the Egyptian version of U.S. Hamburger.
This quintessential street food was created in the seventies of the 20th century by a butcher named Ahmed Al Hawawshi.
Ahmed came up with the idea of stuffing the traditional Egyptian whole wheat flatbread with his signature meat spicy mix. The stuffing basically consists of ground meat mixed with parsley, onions, garlic, hot green pepper and pungent spices. The stuffed bread is baked in hot oven, to come out wafting in irresistible aromas and crispy thanks to the rendered fat.
Ahmed was selling his creations on a humble cart that was touring Cairo’s districts. Soon enough, his exotic food scored high among Egyptians who dubbed it “Hawawshi” after the family name of its creator .
Hawashi remained an affordable street food, as it calls for the “chuck” meat, a relatively inexpensive meat cut marbled with generous amount of fat.
Similarly, the Lebanese cuisine has “Arayess”. A less chunkier version of Hawawshi that is made of ground lamb, and cooked on the grill rather than baked in the oven.
My homemade Hawashi is a cross between the Egyptian and the Lebanese versions. I mix 2 parts of ground chuck (fat trimmed) with 1 part of ground lamb. I freshly toast and grind the spices to elevate of flavors of the whole dish. I add all the ingredients, except the parsley and green pepper, to the meat grinder for a fine texture.
Instead of using the grilling method, I cooked them on an electric griddle. I prefer the stuffing to be a thin layer of meat unlike the chunky traditional Hawawshi.
There are two ways of making Hawawshi, either using store bought flatbread or making the dough from scratch. For busy summer days, I usually opt for the second and easier option.
Hawawshi with its juicy and fervent meat interior encased in a crispy bread could be served as appetizer or a main meal in itself. It is simply a meal that suggest comfort on our busy schedules.
Serves 10 to 12 people
- 450 grams ground beef chuck
- 150 grams ground lamb
- 2 medium onions
- 2 gloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon all spice
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 cup of flat leaves parsley, minced
- 1 hot green pepper, minced (optional)
- 1 tomato, diced
- Egyptian flatbread or white pita
- To prepare the meat mix, add the meat hunks, spices, onions and garlic to the grinder.
- Add the finely chopped parsley, diced tomato and hot green pepper to the minced meat.
- Stuff the bread with a thin layer of meat and brush the bread with some olive oil for a nice tan.
- On an electric griddle, cook on medium heat the stuffed-bread until the interior is fully cooked.
- With a serrated knife, cut the stuffed bread in quarters and serve them with tahini dip.
- Egyptian flatbread could be replaced with white pita bread.
- A grill or an oven are good alternatives to the electric griddle.