While it is mostly known for ‘falafel’ and meat dishes in the West, Egyptian cuisine is incredibly diverse and includes a variety of dishes that are also plant-based. A new Egyptian vegan restaurant recently opened in Toronto, Canada, aims to present this diversity of Egypt’s local cuisine through modern twists, serving 100% plant-based food (Nabati) to promote an environmentally sustainable diet while at the same time celebrating traditional Egyptian flavors and dishes.
It has been featured as one of the ‘top 10 new takeout restaurants in Toronto‘, and so far has received rave reviews on its exciting new flavors and authenticity from several food bloggers.
The story starts Israa Ali, the founder and owner of the restaurant who decided to make a career switch from tech to nutrition and completely shift to a plant-based lifestyle. Growing up eating and cooking traditional Egyptian and Middle Eastern dishes, Ali decided to blend two of her passions through Eat Nabati and pay tribute to Egyptian culture and heritage.
“It is mostly focused on Egyptian recipes, but there are also other influences from other Middle Eastern countries,” Ali tells Egyptian Streets, “we have an abundance of traditional dishes that are naturally vegan like falafel, koshari, arnabeet (cauliflower), betengan (Eggplant) and much more. It’s about going back to our roots and recognizing that we have been eating a lot of vegan dishes traditionally, we just never really thought about it that way.”
The menu includes modern and interesting twists to traditional dishes, such as “Mama Shawarma”, which uses a soy-based alternative instead with pickled radishes and cabbage. The shawarma can also be served in a bowl of rice and lentils or fries or a pita wrap.
The restaurant also uses creativity to make shawarmas and other meat dishes out of plants, celebrating street food in Alexandria through an vegan twist to ‘Kebda Iskandarani’ in ‘Alexandria’s Shrooms’.
There are also dishes that are culturally plant-based, such as the Egyptian falafel, which is fava bean based and is packed with parsley and greens. It also comes with your own choice of dip, such as traditional lemon-based sauce, a harissa tahini, and sweet and smoky beet tahini with maple syrup.
On top of that, they also serve traditional desserts that are culturally healthy, sweet and also plant-based, such as the Mango Kunafa.
“Making veganism more mainstream among Arabs is definitely a goal at Eat Nabati,” Ali adds, “the future goal of Eat Nabati is to show everyone that you can eat plant-based food with no compromise at all. It is affordable but also includes bold flavours. With every meal that you eat, you are basically making an environmentally sustainable choice as well as satisfying your appetite.”
It is located in 160 Baldwin Street and opens from Monday 12 pm to 6 pm and Tuesday to Sunday 12 pm to 8 pm. The restaurant also has a sister location called Dar Nabati located in Oakville, ON that opened in 2018.