Posts tagged “Middle Eastern

2 Recipes for Delicious Umm Ali – Egyptian Dessert



There are quite a few good recipes for Umm Ali out there. After some searching we think these two great recipes are the best for this easy to make and scrumptious dessert. The first one by Global Table is the more traditional version using puff pastry and includes step by step instructions with gorgeous photography, you can find it here: The second recipe by the adorable Titli, find the recipe here: Titli’s Busy Kitchen includes an instructional video. Let your taste buds travel to Egypt and Enjoy!


Ali’s Mother (Umm Ali)



Here is the origin of Um Ali ( An excerpt from

Egyptians have been eating Um Ali for hundreds of years. Clifford A. Wright tells the story well:

One day while hunting in the Nile delta, the sultan developed a ravenous appetite and stopped in a small village. The peasants wished to please the sultan, so the best cook of the village, Umm Ali, pulled out a special pan and filled it with the only ingredients she had around: some dried wheat flakes, sultanas [raisins], nuts, and coconut. She covered it with sugar and milk and put it in the village’s oven.

Excerpt from A Mediterranean Feast


Recipe 2
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Selecting Private Felucca Nile Cruises


Private felucca Nile cruises are an adventure. Memories for a lifetime – but quite expensive.

What is a Private Felucca Cruise?

The Nile River is famous as the world’s longest river, but is also known for the history that seems to spring up along its Egyptian shores.

If a traveler sailed from Cairo to Aswan, affectively traversing the entire length of modern Egypt, they would encounter more than five thousand years of temples, monuments and historical sites.

It is this fascinating history that makes Egypt and especially the Nile Valley such a popular destination, and many people opt to travel the Nile in order to experience the land in the same way as the ancients. One way to ensure an experience similar to the ancient Egyptians is to take a cruise or sail in a felucca, a traditional Middle Eastern boat.

Today, private felucca Nile cruises are becoming one of the most popular methods of exploring the river and its fascinating shores. But be warned, they are quite expensive.

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US travelers go ahead with plans despite alert issued after Bin Laden’s death


Los Angeles Times, May 3 2011
By Chris Reynolds & Hugo Martin

Despite concern that Osama bin Laden’s followers may seek retribution for his death, travel agents said Monday that most American travelers are going ahead with plans for business and leisure trips, even when visiting the Middle East.

Although the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert […] tour operators say there is no sign that hundreds of Americans visiting Egypt, Morocco, Iran and other largely Muslim countries plan to make major changes to their itineraries.

The alert warned Americans traveling to places “where recent events could cause anti-American violence” to limit their time outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations.

Geographic Expeditions in San Francisco had about 50 clients traveling in Morocco, Egypt, Iran, eastern Turkey and Kurdistan on Monday morning, but their itineraries remain largely unchanged so far, company President Jim Sano said.


In many cases, the last few months of Middle Eastern upheaval have already prompted tour operators to cut prices, especially in Egypt.

-          Abercrombie & Kent, a Downers Grove, Ill., operator of luxury tours, has been offering up to 45% discounts on trips to Egypt and Jordan. Still, many A&K customers were “taking a wait-and-see attitude, waiting to travel in the fall,” so “it’s a little too early to tell” what effect Bin Laden’s death will have, company spokeswoman Jean Fawcett said.

-          At Carlson Wagonlit Travel, a Minneapolis company that specializes in business travel, “less than 1% of the clients made travel changes,” spokeswoman Michelle Surkamp said. Those travelers changed from U.S. airlines to foreign carriers, she said.

The Transportation security Administration said in a statement that the agency would continue to “evaluate the latest threats and screening measures which are implemented based on the latest intelligence” but declined to comment further.


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Egypt Now? Yes, and Bring the Kids

The author's children run around the Giza Necropolis

By Marc Champion, The Wall Street Jounal | Travel, MARCH 19, 2011

In the wake of revolution, this Middle Eastern hot spot is welcoming, cheap and largely tourist-free

It’s a bright, spring-like morning at the Great Pyramid, peak time in the peak season for Giza. There is one person climbing the huge stones on the structure’s front face: My 9-year-old son, Jonah. He has a wonder of the ancient world all to himself.

The author's children run around the Giza Necropolis

My wife and daughter, meanwhile, are creeping up the steep tunnel to the burial chamber where King Khufu believed he would become a God. Tourists normally line up early for tickets, as only 300 are sold each day. But the booths were empty that morning, and now they are alone.

“It felt like he was still in the room” because of the eerie echoes, said Georgia, age 6, of Khufu, age 4,600-plus.

For the intrepid, there may never be a better time to visit the land of the pharaohs. Cairo’s hotels are offering deals, flights are largely empty, tour companies are discounting, crowds are non-existent and, make no mistake, Egyptians want you here.

“Thank you for coming to our revolution,” said one of the protesters still in Tahrir Square in early March, who clamored to pose for pictures with our children. Another burly protester wept as he lifted them onto his shoulders.

Truth may be the first casualty of war, but when it comes to social unrest, tourism must be a contender. Egypt’s popular revolt began on Jan. 25; within nine days, according to then-Vice President Omar Suleiman, 1.1 million tourists had fled the country. The revolution turned largely calm when President Hosni Mubarak resigned on Feb. 11, but travelers are just beginning to trickle back.

It’s a common pattern. After the war in Yugoslavia, it took four years for tourists to crowd Croatia’s Dalmatian coast again. Louis O’Neill, a former diplomat, visited Cambodia as a tourist in 1997, after the Khmer Rouge were crushed. “It was awesome—no tourists, no hawkers, cheap, good food. We spent a whole day in Angkor Wat and saw a total of seven people.”

Egypt, fortunately, has not descended into civil war, and local agencies expect recovery to take months rather than years.

Still, more than 300 people died in the pro-democracy uprising and life is hardly back to normal. Tanks are still stationed around Cairo, and there are few police in the streets. Though we never felt unsafe, while we were visiting the ancient sites, blissfully unaware, protesters attacked secret police offices in central Cairo and Giza.

The U.S. State Department has yet to lift its travel advisory discouraging all but essential travel to Egypt and the few foreign tourists we met were on pre-booked tours from Europe.

My wife, Brenda, had wanted to visit Egypt during our children’s mid-semester break in the first week of March. We abandoned those plans when the protests began. But as the school break approached, it suddenly seemed that we might be missing an opportunity to see the country at a unique point in history.

We used Expedia to book flights and a hotel room for the four of us for three nights, and discovered deep discounts. Flights from Istanbul, where we live, were $280. A room at the five-star Intercontinental Semiramis Hotel, just off Tahrir Square, was around $185 per night. The Novotel at Giza cost $100. A suite with breakfast at the luxurious Kempinski Hotel is currently $267, down from $400.

“You will be treated like kings and queens…and see history while it is being written,” said Mohamed El Awady, director of the museum, home to the treasures of Tutankhamun. This was true. He wasn’t able to connect us with the tourism ministry because “they all resigned this morning.”

The Egyptian Museum is comparable to the Louvre and the British Museum in its collection, but visiting feels a lot like rummaging around in your great aunt’s over-stuffed attic. The display cases are Victorian-era affairs with descriptions typed up on paper. Of course, the family attic doesn’t have Tutankhamun’s glittering funeral mask, sculpted into his likeness so that his soul would recognize him in the afterlife, nor the mummified remains of nine pharaohs. There were just two other people in the main hall with us.

The next morning was a Friday, the day when crowds still descend on Tahrir Square after prayers each week. We wanted to see where the revolution started—but early, before the crowds got big. We arrived around 10:30, and were frisked by apologetic young people at security check points.

Already about 1,000 people were milling around. The mood was friendly, but, understandably, still raw with emotion. Pictures of the dead were plastered around the tent city in the center of the square. People were celebrating the dismissal of the Mubarak-appointed prime minister a day earlier. They thrust Egyptian flags into our hands and crowded around to have their pictures taken with Jonah and Georgia.

“They aren’t strangers— they’re Egyptians,” Georgia reassured Jonah, who was overwhelmed by all the people trying to hold him.

The author and his children in Tahrir Square

After lunch we took the kids to the Pharaonic Village, a 1980s theme park devoted to Egyptian history, built on an island in the Nile. The park is a little dog-eared and there are certainly better things to see in Cairo. But the kids loved the dramatizations of ancient Egyptian village life, and there is a fascinating recreation of Tutankhamun’s tomb as it was found, with copies of the boy king’s treasures and toys, piled up as if ready for a trip.

On Saturday, we set out for Giza and the great pyramids. The hotel concierge arranged a van with driver ($60) and licensed guide ($40), for the day. To say this was good value doesn’t begin to cover it. Hanan Omara spent four years at university studying for her license and reads hieroglyphics. She had worked just three days since the turmoil began. “It was worth it,” she said.

Beside the pyramids, Ms. Omara took us to a viewing platform, where the camel ride salesmen were waiting for business. We took Casanova, Mickey Mouse and Charlie Brown for a 15-minute ride into the desert, at $6 per camel.

The kids had been talking for days about seeing the Sphinx. In person, they mainly wanted to know where its nose had gone. During a normal high season, Ms. Omara said, it can take 20 minutes to shuffle through the narrow passageway that leads to the funeral temple, the closest viewing point for the Sphinx. It took us seconds.

The highlight of the trip was the oldest pyramid of them all, the so-called step pyramid at Saqqara, and behind it a nobleman’s tomb with astoundingly beautiful reliefs of hieroglyphs and ancient life. The kids tried to build sand pyramids in the arena outside.

But for a handful of aggressive souvenir hawkers, for these three days in Egypt, we weren’t treated as tourists at all. Strangers repeatedly stopped us in the street just to shake our hands, or kiss the kids, and say earnestly: “Welcome to Egypt. Welcome.”

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