Bread of life: A History of Bread in Egypt

Bread is called “Khobz” in standard Arabic, and it is the most prevalent name for it in Arab nations excluding Egypt. Egyptians refer to bread as “Aish baladi.”
In English, Baladi means “traditional”,” but the term “Aish” is the key to understanding the importance of bread in Egyptian culture. Since ancient times, Egyptians have seen bread as “life.” Egyptians regard bread to be a need in their daily diet. It may be found on every table, from breakfast to dinner. It never fails to make one feel satisfied and joyful. It’s a mood gauge.

Bread of life: A History of Bread in Luxor

Everyone, affluent or poor, consumes bread. If someone is hungry and doesn’t have any money, all they need is a loaf of “Aish baladi” and a cup of tea. When a farmer needs a break from his job, he eats “Aish” with onions, arugula, or cottage cheese.

Model Bakery and Brewery from the Tomb of Meketre
Model Bakery and Brewery from the Tomb of Meketre

Bread in Ancient Egyptians

Evidence from predynastic archaeological sites suggests that Egypt has known how to make bread for about 5800 years. Bread was manufactured from emmer, an ancient wheat species with a low gluten concentration, making it difficult to construct homogenous loaves since gluten provides bread dough flexibility. Manually grinding the grains took a long time, and the flour was combined with water and left to leaven. Ancient bread samples were also found to have natural yeast and lactic acid bacteria components.
Yeast is required to make the bread loaves fluffy and porous, as well as to increase their volume and improve their taste and scent. Because it was leavened with natural yeast, researchers have linked this ancient bread to today’s Shamsi bread. 

Bread of life: A History of Bread in Luxor
Two loaves of bread in a flat circular basketry plate of woven palm leaves. The baker's hand impressions are visible on both sides of one slice of bread. It was discovered at Thebes, Egypt, at a New Kingdom site.

Bread manufacture in Ancient Egypt is well documented because to wall images and inscriptions found on tombs and temples. The bread offerings may be seen at the New Kingdom Tomb of Nefertari. We know that wheat was ground into coarse flour, that the dough was combined in various shaped moulds, that it was allowed to rise, and that it was then placed on platters to be baked in mudbrick ovens. Bread loaves were also included in tomb scenes that included a variety of forms and sizes of bread offerings.

nefertari wall paintings
Shamsi bread

Eish shamsi

Sun bread is an ancient Luxor bread. The name is derived from how it was created. The dough is fermented by the women in the sun. On the temple walls, this feast was shown. A circle is still drawn on the dough by women nowadays. This is a representation of the sun god, “Ra.”


Eish baladi

In current times, skilled local Egyptian bakers oversee the creation of classic Egyptian flatbread, which is interesting to observe. Bakers knead a well-hydrated sticky dough and divide it into evenly proportioned pieces.They flatten each piece of loaf, and in a large wooden tray lined with bran, they lay one by one, and finally place them inside the oven.

Although the classic Egyptian baladi flatbread has evolved through time, one constant remains: no machine could replicate the unique breadmaking method developed by local Egyptian master bakers. Nothing beats the pleasure of slicing a freshly baked baladi bread, seeing the steam rise, and taking that first healthful fresh taste; plain or with your favourite dip.


Baking bread at home was popular in cities until the twentieth century, and it is still popular in communities. Buying bread from private or government-run bakeries is a relatively recent trend, and it is mostly associated with urban inhabitants who are unable to bake their own bread at home owing to space and facility constraints. Home baking of bread declined further as the bread subsidy system grew, with state bakeries selling wholewheat baladi bread at subsidised costs.