Reinventing The Egyptian Street Food Favorite ‘Hawawshi’

The origins of the practice of stuffing minced meat inside baladi bread in Egypt remain shrouded in mystery. While the exact name of the butcher who pioneered this concept is a subject of debate, some attribute it to Mohamed El-Hawawshi, while others believe it was Ahmed El-Hawawsh. Although many sources suggest that this meat-filled creation emerged in the 1970s, there is evidence, in the form of an old butchery receipt, indicating its existence as far back as the 1930s.

Hawawshi, often dubbed the “Egyptian smashed burger,” holds a special place in the hearts of many Egyptians, particularly those living abroad who long for its flavors. Whether baked in the oven or grilled, it tantalizes the taste buds with a diverse range of flavors in every bite. The thin texture of baladi bread further enhances the meat’s taste, allowing it to take center stage in this delightful meal.

Traditionally accompanied by tahini and pickles, hawawshi can now be savored throughout various regions in Egypt. While Egyptians may struggle to agree on who serves the best hawawshi, they all share gratitude toward the innovative butcher who introduced this culinary gem to Egyptian cuisine.

There are endless possibilities to explore and savor this Egyptian delight, Whether you’re a fan of traditional flavors or enjoy experimenting with new twists, these recipes will undoubtedly leave you craving for more.

Soujouk Hawashi

Via Talabat

Soujouk Hawashi is a delightful twist on the traditional Hawawshi sandwich, incorporating the rich flavors of soujouk, a spicy and savory Middle Eastern sausage. To make this variation, mix finely minced beef or lamb with soujouk, you can also make it with only soujouk. Then you can add garlic, onions, peppers, parsley, and a blend of spices such as cumin, paprika, and chili powder, and even top it off with a sprinkle of cheese. Stuff the mixture into pita or Baladi bread, and then grill or bake until golden brown. The result is a succulent and spicy sandwich that will satisfy your cravings for both Hawawshi and soujouk. Risha cooks make a very similar variation using only smashed soujouk rather than mixing it with minced beef.

Egyptian Hawawshi

Via Stock

The Egyptian Hawawshi is a classic creation that showcases the essence of this beloved sandwich. Begin by combining finely minced beef or lamb with diced onions, garlic, parsley, and a medley of spices like cumin, coriander, and black pepper. These the basic ingredients for Egyptian Hawawshi, but you can and diced peppers depending on your preference. Spread the mixture onto Baladi or pita bread and bake until the bread becomes crispy and the meat is cooked to perfection. The result is a heavenly combination of flavors and textures that will transport you to the streets of Egypt. Suzy from The Mediterranean Dish shows us her twist on the original Hawawshi by adding extra tomato paste, diced peppers, and Jalapeños to spice things up.

Lebanese Hawawshi (Arayes)

Lebanese Hawawshi, also known as Arayes, is a popular variation that introduces a delightful fusion of flavors. In this version, the meat mixture is enhanced with ingredients like finely chopped onions, parsley and a hint of lemon juice. The meat mixture can be stuffed in dough or pita bread and served with tahini. The addition of these fresh and tangy elements adds a vibrant twist to the traditional Hawawshi. Grilling or baking the stuffed bread until golden and crispy further enhances the irresistible flavors.

Alexandrian Hawawshi

Alexandrian Hawawshi is a regional variation that hails from the city of Alexandria in Egypt. It features a delicious combination of minced meat, onions, garlic, parsley, peppers and an assortment of aromatic spices similar to the Egyptian Hawawshi. What makes it different is that the Alexandrian hawawshi is prepared by making dough for bread first then stuffing the meat inside it while the dough is soft, then after you filled in the dough with the meat stuffing, you pop in the oven and bake all the ingredients together until golden brown. This allows the bread to absorb the savory flavors of the mixture while they cook together. Arabic Food tips walks us through the recipe for the Alexandrian Hawawshi from start to finish, but if you do decide to go for this recipe, it important to allow the dough to ferment for half an hour after mixing the dough mixture.

Melted Cheese Hawawshi

For cheese lovers, the melted cheese Hawawshi is an absolute treat. Prepare the traditional Hawawshi mixture and add a generous amount of your favorite melting cheese such as mozzarella or cheddar. Stuff the meat mixture with you choice of meat (minced beef, soujouk or basterma) into the bread, then top it off with any cheese you like and then bake until the cheese is gooey and golden. The result is a mouthwatering fusion of melted cheese and flavorful meat that will satisfy your cravings for both cheese and Hawawshi. Rami Soliman from Food With Soli creates his own special cheese melt hawawshi with an extra large fresh pocket of Baladi bread. He starts out by mixing the soujouk with green peppers, then spreads it on the bread and tops it off with basterma, cream cheese and a sprinkle of mozzarella, then pops it in the oven for a nice melt.

From the Egyptian Hawawshi recipe to other variations, every bite is a celebration of flavor and every variation promises a new and exciting experience.

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