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“Fatteh”, what is this famous Egyptian dish from ancient times?

The name "fatteh" comes from the Arabic word fotat, which means "crumbs". And for good reason, this dish from Egypt contains small, crunchy pieces of bread! Fatteh is made by layering several preparations, the flavours of which are perfectly matched. What are the main ingredients of this speciality? And when was it born? We tell you everything about fatteh!

Where does fatteh come from?

In gastronomy, it is difficult to identify the precise origin of a dish. As far as fatteh is concerned, it seems that this dish was born at the time of the Pharaohs! Subsequently, the Bedouins spread this Egyptian speciality to neighbouring territories such as Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon. Recipes vary from region to region, but always preserve the main ingredient of this dish: crispy fried bread, coarsely crumbled. Fatteh also includes white rice, garlic, vinegar and beef (or lamb). The latter is sometimes replaced in other countries, such as Syria and Lebanon, by hummus or a yoghurt and tahini sauce.  

Is fatteh a festive dish or a modest one?

Both! Fatteh is eaten in Egypt all year round. Beef is replaced by cheaper meat, such as chicken. But this family dish is at its best during the holy month of Ramadan, during the iftar (meal for breaking the fast), on the occasion of Eid and on Christmas Eve among the Coptic Orthodox. 

During the preparation of this typical dish, the scent of garlic dipped in vinegar, tomato sauce and roasted meat wafts through the rooms, making mouths water for young and old alike. It is a comforting and filling dish, the recipe for which has been passed down from generation to generation. So it’s a family affair!

How to make a good fatteh? 

The secrets of a good fatteh lie, among other things, in the tenderness of the meat. The meat must first be covered with boiled water and cooked for an hour on a medium heat. The meat is then heated in a pan with two tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter). The aim is to colour it, not to fry it! Another essential part of this Egyptian dish is the tomato sauce, which is simmered with garlic, vinegar, coriander, nutmeg and cardamom. The bread pieces are then fried in a pan until golden and crispy. At the same time, don’t forget to cook your rice. 

All that’s left to do is to arrange your fatteh, starting with the bread, followed by a layer of cooked rice, the tomato sauce and finally the meat on top. Enjoy!