Israel is every epicurean’s dream destination and a wide variety of cafés serve everything from Arabic, European to Asian fare. But no matter what one picks, the food in the Jewish heartland will always be infused with the warmth of the Mediterranean sun, the goodness of fresh dairy products and meats, garnished with garden crisp fruits, nuts and vegetables. Here’s a low down on dishes you must indulge in whether you’re in a market, street or at a restaurant in Israel.
Challah – A special Jewish ceremonial bread, braided and brushed with egg white that is baked to perfection.
Sabich – A pita pocket stuffed with crispy fried eggplant, hard-boiled egg, creamy hummus and tahini, along with Israeli salad and pickles. The sandwich created by Israel’s Iraqi Jewish community is an absolute street food favourite among locals. If you’re in Tel Aviv, try sabich from Sabich Frishman.
Jerusalem Bagel – Unlike the typical bagels, the Jerusalem Bagel is elongated, soft, slightly sweet and similar to regular bread. Vendors sell freshly baked Jerusalem Bagels all over the streets of the Old City, usually accompanied with some za’atar.
Bourekas – Similar to the Indian samosa, bourekas are with potato, cheese or spinach stuffed triangles of filo-dough, topped with toasted sesame seeds. Head over to Leon and Sons in Jaffa for a taste of this flaky treat.
Khachapuri – Try this traditional Georgian dish in Mahane Yehuda Market made with eggs and cheese combined in an eye shaped dough. Once baked, dip the outer crust in the rich and oozing centre of egg and cheese.
Rugelach – This Jewish pastry is made with chocolate, cinnamon, raisins, walnuts or fruits. Head to Marzipan Bakery in Jerusalem to dig into this oozing chocolate filled delight.
Sambusak – Similar to bourekas, sambusak is made with mashed chickpeas, onions and spices wrapped in a triangular dough pocket. For an Indian style sambusak, visit Tandoor in Tel Aviv
Shakshuka – Shakshuka is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, sweet and spicy peppers and is often spiced with cumin and topped off with freshly cut herbs. Head to Dr Shakshuka and swipe your bread across the pan to pick up the runny egg drenched sauce.
Halva – Israel is known for its incredible variety of Halva made with sesame and easy to find in almost all the markets around the country.
Ash Tanur – A sourdough flatbread, made without yeast and sugar and best eaten with some fresh local herbs and spices.
Fresh juices – From the juicy pomegranates to citrusy oranges, Israel prides itself on serving the most fresh and flavourful juices. Tamara in Tel Aviv is one of the many popular juice stands in the city.