Embraced by the warmth of a sunset, which spreads a tender peach color over the Nile river, the Nubians of Aswan have always been devoted seekers of beauty, as they are deeply influenced and inspired by nature — a reverence brought to life through their cuisine.
Mohamed Kamel is a Nubian chef specialized in modern Nubian cuisine, fusing the traditions of the past with modern tastes and styles. Since Nubian cuisine is little known outside the Nubian region, Kamal aspires to keep the culture alive through his twist on the traditional dishes. He was also part of the Egyptian Chefs national team that received the 2022 African Culinary Cup.
Through his Instagram account (@nubian_chef_), Kamel shares different recipes of Nubian cuisine that are more contemporary in order to suit everyone’s taste.
One of Kamel’s popular dishes in modern Nubian cuisine is the ‘Nubian Argeeh’ (7 grains), as the number 7 holds an important connotation in Nubian history, days, and different cultural rituals, Kamel notes.
“This dish was made by Nubian women to provide relief from afflictions and heal the hearts of people who faced distressing events. It was not just a simple dish,” Kamal tells Egyptian Streets. “Ancient Nubians used to offer this dish to a higher being, instead of sacrificing humans like other ancient civilizations used to do when they faced disasters.”
“This significant dish contains a variety of grains that crisp up the skin of the pigeon to form a crust. It actually holds a deeper meaning because the pigeon eats these spices, and so the core philosophy of this dish is that you are imitating the circle of life. When you taste the delicacy of the pigeon’s skin, you are also the pigeon eating the same spices.”
Pigeon in the Nubian language is called Sherylii, Kamel says, which symbolizes the messenger that delivers love to the beloved. “Love is the most valued emotion for Nubians, and this dish carries multiple meanings; first, that it was made out of pure love by the Nubian women, and second, that it delivers this love to heal other people,” he adds.
250g pigeon breasts
A pinch of chili powder (optional)
A mixture of herbs (cumin, sesame, coriander seeds, anise, fennel seeds) (optional)
The seven grains are:
10g of black eye seeds (per person)
10g of sorghum (per person)
10g of corn (per person)
10g of green peas (per person)
10g of wheat (per person)
10g of chickpeas (per person)
10g of fava beans (per person)
1.Boil 2 litres of water in a pot, add a little salt and pepper, then add the seven grains and mix together until it creates a sauce from the starch of the grains.
2.In another pan, mix your pigeon breasts with salt, pepper, butter and herbs. Let it marinate for 3-5 minutes, then press your pigeon breasts in the pan and add the sauce on top of it to form a crust on the pigeon’s skin.
3.Remove from the pan and let the pigeon rest for 5 to10 mins, then thinly slice next to your side dish (rice, mashed potatoes, or mixed vegetables).