DAHAB'S CULINARY SECRETS

Writing: Nahla Samaha

Travel Experience & Photography: Sherif Tamim

Exploring Egypt and all it’s layers upon layers of culture and tradition is a pastime for us here at Flavor Republic. Beyond the “touristy” surface of places and things, is a world of wonders…the more you dig, the more you are amazed. 

This fall, our wanderlust took us to South Sinai, where beyond the glistening azure waters of the Red Sea, past the rich biodiversity of marine life, and under the warm shimmering sand, is a town rich in culinary marvels: Dahab. 

The images conjured when one thinks of Dahab are those of a laid-back town of temporal visitors; all looking for a “bohemian” break from their fast-paced, tech-infused city lives. A place to “chill”, to reconnect with nature, and to work on their tans: undisturbed by all the frills that come with typical beach vacations. And while all of that may be true, there is more to Dahab than meets the eye. 

Resident Flavor Republic photographer Sherif Tamim takes us on a culinary tour of his favorite eateries in Dahab, starting with Eldorado Lodge & Restaurant, “Eldorado is a favorite spot,” says Tamim, “it’s one of the best Italian restaurants in Egypt.” Specializing in their own homemade pasta, and slow cooked sauces, Eldorado offers signature dishes like tortellini walnut sauce, and spaghetti Bolognese. Owned by Italian couple Alex and Rosanna, Eldorado is their ode to the deep-rooted and intricate heritage of the Bedouin culture of South Sinai. 

An “amazing culinary destination,” as Tamim puts it, there is lots to discover in Dahab in the way of food. Lakhbatita Ramez & Paola Restaurant serves authentic Italian cuisine right on the beach, Namaste Tandoori Oven specializes in bona fide sumptuous Indian food with all its complex layers of flavor, Red Cat Restaurant owned by Marianna Yakutova serves exotic Russian dishes, Churchill’s Bar grills “the best burger in Egypt,” according to Tamim, Ali Baba Hotel has perfected seafood cuisine, and Dai Pescatori Dahab is another authentic Italian food destination. “A traditional must in Dahab is breakfast at Ralph’s German Bakery,” says Tamim, the bakery is owned by German chef Ralph Stocker and has become a longstanding staple of the Dahab alimentary scene.  

Another must-do in Dahab is The Dahab Community Friday Market. It is a “street” food market held weekly at Sheikh Salem House and it features local products and produce from the surrounding Bedouin community, as well as food stalls selling culinary delicacies and mouthwatering eats. 

“I find real peace there,” says Tamim of Dahab, “I find people there who have left the city behind, made a downgrade to their life style, and an upgrade to their mental wellbeing.”


TURKEY TIME AT CASTLE ZAMAN

A tradition that started eight years ago among friends has today evolved into a full-blown competition with winners, losers, an audience, and a whole lot of succulent turkey to go around.

Hani Roshdi is the owner and architect behind Castle Zaman, a ruin-like castle sitting atop a cliff, overlooking the shores of Nuweiba. Anyone who’s been to Sinai knows or has heard of this architectural marvel, and its’ famous slow-cooked, large-portion, high-dinning meals. Eight years ago, Roshdi and his pal Hussein El Sheikh shared a friendly rivalry over who could cook the best Thanksgiving turkey. Eight years later, the duo along with El Sheikh’s wife Hedi are on the same team, competing against five other teams for the bragging rights over the best turkey.  

“We competed with two turkeys,” says Roshdi, “one we attempted to deep fry, and the other we smoked.” The deep-frying idea came from an American tradition of cooking turkey, “we couldn’t get the temperature high enough to create a consistent exterior,” explains Roshdi, “it ended up tasting great, but looking awful.” Their smoked entry however was a different case, “The smoked turkey is a recipe I’ve been doing for the past 3 years, mainly because the turkey is smoked far away from the kitchen, leaving room for the other competitors. And the smoked meat makes great leftovers!” claims Roshdi.

Quite content with a fourth place win, Roshdi is looking ahead to next year’s turkey meet, “Next year we want to have a bigger event, we will think of ways to make next year bigger.”

First place winner and self-professed amateur chef, media producer Abbas Fahmy entered the competition with a Castle Zaman first: turkey under a salt crust. With 15 kg of salt in hand, along with the standard 8 kg turkey, Abbas got to work. 

The competition rules stipulated that all turkeys are sourced from the same farm and must weigh more or less the same. Castle Zaman provided the turkey, which each team paid for, while each team brought along its’ own tools and ingredients. The multi-turkey feast at the end was free for all invited guests. For the third year running, Hisham Gabr, owner of Camel Dive in Sharm El Sheikh headed the judging panel, and voting was based on a set of criteria that included timeliness, presentation, carving, and taste.

“It was my first time cooking an entire turkey under a salt crust,” admits Fahmy, “I had done veal leg and fish before but never a turkey. The advantage of cooking under a salt crust is that it accelerates the cooking process because no heat or moisture escape,” he explains. Cooking something under a salt crust imparts a flavor, salt is hardened in the oven, and a hammer is literally needed to remove the crust after the turkey is cooked.

Each team is required to create a side dish to complement the turkey. “My side was fereek with very small diced vegetables so that in one spoonful you carried all the ingredients: zucchini, carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes,” says Fahmy. “My winning side was cooked with rendered fat and cooking cream in a crockpot in a baladi oven, everything was pan fried before being put in the crockpot, with the addition of finely diced sausage and spices. I also made crispy oven-baked sweet potato and potato cubes with finely chopped rosemary, mint, garlic and olive oil, tossed together and crisped in the oven.” Fahmy goes on to explain, “Instead of making a gravy, I made an Argentinian inspired chimichurri made with celery leaves, parsley, fresh thyme and fresh rosemary with garlic-infused olive oil.”

Among this year’s highlights were the vegetarian turkey made by Valentina Verbenko, “Her turkey looked perfectly cooked and succulent,” says Roshdi, “but the minute you cut through it, you realize it’s a cake! It was wonderful.”

First place winner and self-professed amateur chef, media producer Abbas Fahmy (Instagram: @abbaseyat)

First place winner and self-professed amateur chef, media producer Abbas Fahmy (Instagram: @abbaseyat)

Perhaps the highlight for everyone at the event, chefs and audience members alike, was the comradery and jovial atmosphere that sprung up among all attendees, a true meeting of spirits hungry for turkey and generous with their friendships. Abbas is eager to maintain his position as title-holder, but he is perhaps most looking forward to, “making more friends next year.”


Fayoum Team Retreat
 - On doors, fish and time off

Writing: Heba El-Sherif

Travel Experience & Photographs: Flavor Republic Team


It’s so easy to get caught up with our day-to-day duties, working long hours and feeling giddy about conquering our to-do lists at the end of a long week. Tasks mark the beginning of our journey and reaching the finish line becomes all too consuming that sometimes we forget to eat. We hit the ground running and boom, we’ve made it through the day. We’re proud, and the sheer thrill of accomplishment keeps us going for days, even months, without a moment to reflect.

But what is at stake is not just our sanity, our barometer for a happy, healthy soul. It’s our ability to continue to produce new content while outplaying what’s ordinary. A chance for us to chase our passion, rejuvenated and perpetually inspired.  

With that in mind, we drove south to the city of Fayoum for a weekend of fishing, shopping and much needed time together away from the office. For two days we walked the thin streets of Tunis, awestruck by the mud brick houses, ceramic selection and old, gorgeous doors. 

Mariam, Laila and Mahy share their thoughts on the weekend below: 

Mariam Shawki

This retreat unconsciously created a test of time management, of collaboration and of teamwork: trying to plan the day together and sticking to it and planning to do things separately but meeting in the end were both examples at play. 

I enjoyed how chilled people were in Fayoum, they don't care if you come and go, they don't care what you do or what you wear. Coming from the busy, loud and nosey Cairo, that was a nice change of pace. The air was cleaner, and the noise level was much lower. 

I noticed few things about Tunis that I found iconic: There seems to be a continuous stream that flows under their streets, no matter which street you walk in, you'll always hear this little waterfall of water below you. Everyone seems to have kept their old doors and never thought about repainting them, which is great, because it was in the most perfect used condition. I wished we could have taken all of them and used them as surface in our shoots. 

We also bought some really pretty pottery from Tunis. Looking at them in our prop closet, they look now much prettier than when they did at the shop. 

My most memorable moments were when we were sitting all together on the dining table, through breakfast and lunch. It felt like if this were the only thing we would do during the trip, it would still be a fun trip. I was happy to spend some personal time with the team, without being towed by work. Laila is such a low maintenance girl; we were all in a wheely carry on suitcases, and she was off on a trip in a duffle bag - so cute. White fish really didn't like Hoda, and I believe Mahy could have stayed in that pond forever, fishing quietly. 


Laila Heiba

Fayoum left rather an artistic mark on me. I initially thought we were going to do team building activities where we'd get a chance to get to know each other, although I think I already had an idea of who everyone was. Looking back now I realize I traveled with people who are very artistic - actually, extremely artistic. While walking through Tunis, I felt each and every one could create art from anything that we laid eyes on, whether it was a door in the middle of a crushed wall, an animal, a window or just kids running across the street. The amount of doors we saw...beautiful!

Everyone made me realize how little things can still be beautiful, how you can capture something that was left behind and change the way you look at it, turn it around to make it seem more valuable. I kept on asking: "So you would take this door and not paint over it?" And the answer was, "We wouldn't change a thing." Every time they'd say that, I was wowed. 

I see myself as someone who loves nature and greenery and the little things.. but this trip made me realize other little things that I felt only this bunch saw. I felt I was around very humble people. Everyone is really, really talented in their own way, and I'm really happy I'm part of this team. After this trip, I felt like I have a lot to learn.


Mahy Megahed

I really enjoyed this short trip. Fayoum is a really cozy place, I loved everything about it. The clean air, its humble yet productive people, their doors, and - last but not least - FISHING! I was also surprised by Lake Qaroun. It's beautifully huge, something I didn't expect.

I wish I could live like this forever, clean weather away from the city, fresh and healthy food -- we even got our herbs and lemons from Kom El Dikka’s own garden. 

I love our team. Everyone has his own personality. I loved spending time with them, I feel like they are my family now. We also missed some people who couldn't make it, like Hanya our head of communication & social media (my personal comfort person) -- oh how I miss her and Sara, our studio producer.

I think my big takeaway was the realization that we’re all on the same page with regards to sharing and affecting each other’s workload. Now, on the other side, I’m going to use the clarity I got from the retreat to do amazing stuff with this team.


**Endless gratitude to Kom El Dikka for hosting us, feeding us and lending us their garden. 

Home-Cooking 101

Photography, Recipes and Food Styling: Flavor Republic

(Mahy Megahed & Mariam Shawki)

Client: Seoudi Supermarkets

If you know us, you know our favorite kind of collaborations are with homegrown businesses. One of our newest collaborations is with Seoudi Supermarkets. Over the next few months, watch out for our recipes around their stores. Here are some delicious ones:

Full recipe below:

Full recipe below:

BARBECUED Seafood Platter

  • 4 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1½ tsp dried chili flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp finely grated lemon rind
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup red grape vinegar
  • 6 small squid tubes, cleaned
  • 6 king prawns (shrimp)
  • 2 raw blue crabs
  • 500g mussels
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • Lemon wedges and aioli, to serve

Directions:

  1. Preheat a large char-grill pan or barbecue to high heat. Place the paprika, the chili, garlic, lemon rind, oil and vinegar in a small bowl and mix to combine. Reserve ¼ cup (60ml) of the mixture.

  2. Place the squid, prawn, mussels and crab on a large oven tray, drizzle with the paprika mixture and toss to coat. Cook the crab, covered, for 5 minutes each side. Set aside and keep warm. 

  3. Add the prawns and squid and cook for 1–2 minutes each side or until charred and just cooked. Set aside and keep warm. 

  4. Add the mussels and cook, covered, for 1–2 minutes or until opened. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve with lemon wedges, and the reserved dressing.

Seafood Perfection

Seafood Perfection


Did you know?

Did you know?

Full recipe below:

Full recipe below:

Grilled Gilt-Head Bream with Garlic Soya Sauce

For The Fish

Ingredients:

  • 3 Gilthead Bream Fish
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • Lime slices
  • Olive oil
  • Knob of butter
  • Handful fresh parsley
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Cherry tomatoes

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a small pan and add the pepper, lemon zest, parsley and olive oil, mix well.
  2. Place the fish onto a baking tray and pour over the marinade, along with the cherry tomato, lime slices and garlic cloves.
  3. Bake in a preheated 180C oven for 35-40 mins.

For the Garlic Soya Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dark soy sauce
  • 2/3 brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Directions

  1. Place the soy sauce and sugar in a saucepan and cook over low heat until slightly caramelized and thickened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the garlic. Cool and serve.
Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!


Tips 'n Tricks

Tips 'n Tricks

Full recipe below:

Full recipe below:

Roasted Chicken with Veggies

Ingredients

  • 1 crushed garlic
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 1.6 kg whole chicken
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 6 baby potatoes

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 240°C/475°F/gas 9.

  2. Roughly chop all the vegetables. Put all the veggies and garlic into the middle of a large oven-proof pot and drizzle with olive oil.

  3. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper, thyme.

  4. Put the lemon inside the chicken’s cavity, with the rest of the thyme.

  5. To cook your chicken place it on top of the vegetables in the roasting tray and put it into the preheated oven. Turn the heat down immediately to 200°C/400°F/gas 6 and cook the chicken for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

  6. Baste the chicken halfway through cooking and if the veg look dry. When cooked, take the tray out of the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before transferring to a serving dish. 

Indeed!

Indeed!

Full recipe below:

Full recipe below:

Beef Chops

  • 4 pieces beef ribs
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large egg beaten

Directions:

  1. Season beef ribs on both sides with ½ tsp kosher salt.
  2. Combine all breadcrumbs ingredients in a large shallow bowl.
  3. Place beaten egg in a separate bowl and dip beef chops into the egg mixture, then into the crumb mixture.
  4. Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Pesto Sauce Ingredients

  • 3 cups fresh basil, packed
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ½ lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp salt
  •  1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Place the fresh basil, grated Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic cloves, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor.
  2. Pulse ingredients into a coarse mixture, scraping sides as needed.
  3. While pulsing, slowly drizzle oil through top feed tube and process until well combined and pesto looks uniform. 
  4. Serve with the beef ribs with vegetables on a side.
Tastes as good as it looks!

Tastes as good as it looks!


Summer [Fruit] Lovin'

Photography & Food Styling: Flavor Republic

(Mahy Megahed & Mariam Shawki)

Fresh fruits are in abundance. The weather in Cairo is hot, and the studio is buzzing with activity. So, the team took a little break to whip up some quick, healthy and refreshing snacks. Of course, we had to take some pictures before devouring them!


A midweek pick-me-up to combat this sweltering heat = a delicious, nutritious, and scrumptious (nice vocab, right?) smoothie!

Icy cold, super smooth!

Icy cold, super smooth!

Banana, Kiwi, and Kale Smoothie

  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 2 kiwis, peeled and sliced in half
  • 1 cup kale, washed and tightly packed
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup ice
  1. Combine all ingredients into your blender.
  2. Blend on full strength until thoroughly incorporated and smooth.
  3. Pour into glasses and serve.
  4. Post a cool picture on Instagram!

You can make those Pinterest-like smoothie bowls at home (nothing fancy, just lots of fresh Summer fruits!)

Yes, you can! Go ahead and try the recipe below:

Yes, you can! Go ahead and try the recipe below:

Pineapple Mango Smoothie Bowl

  • 1 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 plain greek yoghurt
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and liquify.
  2. Serve, add toppings, and enjoy!
  3. Don't forget to take a pretty picture.

Back to our Senses

A Day at Makar Farms with Chef Wesam Masoud, Flavor Republic, and Flower Power


Sight

Upon entering Makar Farms, our sight was drawn to the open green fields and spacious greenhouses spread out on the area, a stark contrast to the grey and brown tones of urban Cairo that are so pervasive in our everyday lives. A refreshing sense of tranquillity and peace of mind instantly overcame as we arrived at the main seating space. 

An impeccable set up comprised of a shaded area under grapevine leaves, wooden tables handmade at the farm and colorful green and blue chairs transformed into a picturesque dining experience under Flavor Republic’s artistic direction.

With Flower Power on board, the dining table came to life with an array of spring flowers, which were each thoughtfully picked and placed on their rightful spots, catering to our eyes a colourful spring festival. 

Smell

As we stood by the wooden stand where the beautiful Makar Farms products were displayed and took a breath of fresh air, a rare commodity for all Cairenes living in the center. All our senses became alert as the next door kitchen’s aromas tangled through our noses.

Chef Wesam Masoud and his eclectic team were busy transforming Makar Farms products into jaw-dropping, mouth-watering, coma-inducing culinary delicacies. 


We all turned to the table after what seemed like an eternal wait and each one took a seat at the lavishly decorated table. At this point, Cairo’s hustle and bustle felt like a far away land that our senses had completely blocked out. 


Sound

One could sense the sheer anticipation, as the chattering around the table grew louder. A glass clinking sound signaled the beginning of a speech by Mounir Makar, who ecstatically welcomed everyone at the farm and expressed his appreciation and gratitude for the effort that was put into the day by all partners. Chef Wesam followed by taking us on a narrated journey of how all elements came together from assembly to preparation to presentation. For the first few minutes after Chef Wesam’s speech, as everyone took their first bite, the whole table fell silent, indulging in the explosion of flavors in our mouths. 


Taste

The Menu: Goat Cheese and Broccoli Soup with Roasted Almonds; the combination of which was sheer brilliance Caesar Salad with Edible Flowers and a Special Citrus Caesar Salad Dressing with Croutons Baked in Parmesan Oil; giving a twist to the traditional caesar salad that left us all in awe. 


Mashed Potatoes with Melted Cheese and Finely Chopped Chives; because a good mashed potato dish will never be forgotten and a Beef Stew with Baby Carrots; which almost brought tears to our eyes. In addition to, a Cheese Platter with Raspberry Jam and Edible Flowers, Pickled Cherry Tomatoes, and Pomegranate and Orange Juice. 


Touch

With our bellies full and our minds serene, we embraced the warm sun and the cool breeze in our shaded corner of the farm.  We figured, a nice little walk around the open fields and greenhouses would do us good after this majestic meal. Standing in the greenhouses, we got to pick up and hold the crops we’d just consumed; from smooth lettuce leaves and sharply grown Kenyan beans to spiky tiny cucumber flowers and moist cherry tomatoes. 

And with the final tour around the last greenhouse, the day had to come to an end. 

Our senses had been revived by the beauty of the view, the tastiness of the food, the calmness of the surrounding, the fragrance of the kitchen and the satisfaction that came from having come into direct contact with the primary element in the food chain. 

Cairo can be overwhelming to the senses, and sometimes an escape like this is just what you need to go back to them.