How to be a good Egyptian

Excerpt from “How to be a good Egyptian”, interactive performance with audio & food, approx. 15 mins, Bankstown Arts Centre.


“Food is the one thing I can talk to my teta (grandmother) about. It opens up possibilities for a more meaningful connection. It also eases my guilt about being a terrible grandson and an even worse Egyptian”

Phil Soliman serves Egyptian chickpea soup to the visitors of Bankstown Arts Centre, in Sydney’s south west. During the performance, we can hear a conversation Phil has with his grandmother, about food, his sick grandfather, and his grandmother’s story as an Egyptian immigrant to Australia in the Seventies.

This performance was made possible by Bankstown Arts Centre, Urban Theatre Projects and Bankstown Youth Development Service.

Teta’s Chickpea Soup Recipe


1 cup dried chickpeas or 1 can pre-cooked chickpeas (dried is better!)
2 L cold water
1 stalk celery, chopped into 2cm pieces
1 carrot, chopped into 2cm pieces
1 onion, quartered
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp salt

Choose any or all of these garnishes to add after cooking

Pickled onion, turnip, lemon or cabbage
Olive oil
Lemon juice
More cumin
Fresh chopped tomato
Fresh chopped parsley
Salt & pepper


  1. Pick over chickpeas and remove any dark, rotten chickpeas or small stones. Rinse thoroughly to remove any dirt. Soak dried chickpeas in 2L of cold water and mix in 1 tsp of bicarb soda (this helps soften the chickpeas). Obviously this isn’t necessary if you’re using pre-cooked chickpeas. Drain both soaked and canned chickpeas of their water.
  2. Place all of the ingredients except the salt into a pressure cooker. Bring to the boil uncovered, then pop the lid on and reduce the heat. Cook for 20-30 mins or until the chickpeas are tender without being mush. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, cook the same way in a large saucepan for an hour or so.
  3. Carefully remove the lid and stir in the salt. Serve in bowls topped with any or all of the garnishes listed above.