When people think of Israel’s food, it’s likely they think of hummus, rugelach or falafel. But there’s a wide range of Israeli dishes that celebrate the country’s culture and heritage. If you’re looking for a way to create memories that will last and to expand your palate as well, consider immersing yourself in the foods of the region, like the ones described below.
Seven best Israeli dishes you NEED to know about!
Cholent, a Jewish stew, is a slow-cooked meal (approximately 12 hours) that is extremely popular during Shabbat. In fact, the recipe was developed over the centuries to align with Jewish laws that prohibit cooking on the Sabbath. According to multiple sources, the dish boils on Friday before the Sabbath, and then is placed into a slow cooker or oven on low heat until the next day. Cholent typically includes meat, potatoes, beans and barley. However, Sephardic Jews often substitute rice for the beans and barley and chicken for the beef. They may also add whole eggs, shell included! Ashkenazi Jews often include a sausage casing or chicken neck skin stuffed with flour.
Jachnun, a Yemenite pastry, is another dish created to abide by Jewish laws regarding the Sabbath. The dough is rolled out until it is paper thin, and then folded over and rolled until it resembles a log or eggroll. The rolled and baked dough is left to bake at a very low heat overnight and when finished, has the flaky texture of a croissant. Jachnun is typically served on the morning of Shabbat with a side of tomato dip, s’hug and hard-boiled eggs. You may find this dish in Tel Aviv, at the Shuk HaCarmel, or frozen varieties in most Israeli supermarkets.
Latkes are traditionally served during Hanukkah, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy this fried potato pancake year round! They are very easy to make, with both sweet and savory options. Well known versions include potato latkes and cheese latkes. There are also some more out of the box recipes including corn and red pepper latkes, mushroom-pecan latkes, and even sweet potato latkes with cinnamon.
Matbucha is a dish of stewed tomatoes, red peppers, garlic and onions with African origins. In Israeli kitchens, cooks make their own adjustments to matbucha – adding a variety of vegetables and garnishes, sometimes referred to as “Turkish Salad” or “cooked salad”. This dish is often served as an appetizer, as a salad, or as a dip for pita bread or vegetables.
Popularly known as Israeli couscous, this rice-like pasta was invented in the 1940s by Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion (hence its colloquial name “Ben-Gurion Rice”). Manufacturers are creative in the shapes of the couscouse, hence the ring, star, and heart shapes are very popular with children. It is often prepared with onions and garlic or even meats and vegetables, and then fried. Yummy!Shawarma is a type of meat preparation where meat, typically lamb, chicken, or beef are placed on a spit and grilled over the period of a day. When serving, the meat is shaved off, leaving the layer underneath for grilling. Shawarma is a very popular street food, available at vendors in markets and tourist areas. Shawarma is often served on pita, or eaten with tabbouleh, fattoush, hummus, and other vegetables and condiments.