Every country and culture has its own unique foods. These cuisines are often based on the availability of certain ingredients or local climate. Some countries’ cuisines are strictly native while others are influenced by immigrants bringing their own traditions and tastes.
Eretz Yisrael is one such place. Middle Eastern culture plays a big part in the foods eaten there but each wave of immigrants has added new flavors to traditional Israeli foods. Among all the foods eaten there, some are immensely popular and have become staples in both homes and restaurants.
Along with salads like Israeli salad, carrot salad and babaganoush, you will find cracked green olives, pickles and spicy sauces like s’chug on many tables. No meal is complete without chummus and pita bread — influences of other Middle Eastern cuisines.
You can start with canned chickpeas or cook raw chickpeas according to the package directions. To keep things quick and simple, our recipe takes shortcuts.
1 16-oz. can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans
¼ cup liquid from can of chickpeas
3–5 Tbs. lemon juice or more to taste
1½ Tbs. Israeli techinah (jarred sesame paste)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tbs. olive oil
Fresh parsley, checked and chopped
Drain chickpeas and set aside liquid from can. Combine remaining ingredients in blender or food processor. Add 1/4 cup of liquid from chickpeas. Blend for 3–5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth.
Place in serving bowl, and create a shallow well in the center of the chummus.
Add a small amount (1–2 tablespoons) of olive oil in the well. Garnish with parsley (optional). Serve immediately with fresh, warm or toasted pita bread, or cover and refrigerate.
If your family likes spicy foods, you can try adding ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or a dash of cayenne pepper.
Although this dish originates in North Africa, it has become truly Israeli!
4 Tbs. olive oil
2 large onions, yellow or white, chopped
4 cloves of garlic
1 medium can crushed tomatoes
2 large fresh tomatoes, diced
1 red bell pepper
1 green pepper
1 hot pepper, preferably cayenne or jalapeno
1 tsp. ketchup
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1 large loaf of bread for serving
In a large, deep pan, heat oil, approximately 2–3 minutes. Sauté the onions in hot oil, stirring occasionally, until golden in color. Peel garlic cloves, chop or slice finely, and add to onions, stirring once or twice.
In a separate bowl, chop the red and green peppers, and mix with crushed tomatoes. Add the diced tomatoes, along with the ketchup and the brown sugar (this will neutralize the tomatoes’ acidity). Finely chop the hot pepper, and add according to taste — just a bit or the whole pepper. Stir until all ingredients are mixed in with the tomato sauce.
Pour tomato-pepper mixture into the pan, and stir into the onions, garlic and oil. Cook on a medium-high flame for 5–7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to bubble. Reduce flame to low and cook for 15 minutes more, stirring every two minutes or so.
Add the eggs over the sauce, making sure they don’t touch one another. Cover the pan completely, raise flame to medium and cook for another 4–6 minutes, or until eggs are no longer runny. If you like your eggs well-done, allow an additional 2–3 minutes.
Remove from flame and divide equally, making sure each diner has an even number of eggs, and eat, using the bread to soak up the sauce.
This fried dough is eaten with tomato sauce or honey — as an appetizer or dessert.
2½ cups water
1 tsp. sugar
2 lbs. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
9 oz. margarine or butter
Mix the flour, water, sugar and salt, and knead well until it forms a soft dough. Cover with a damp towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Divide dough into 12 equal-sized round balls, put them on your working surface, cover with the towel once again and let the dough sit for 45 minutes longer.
Generously grease the working surface and use your hands (not a rolling pin) for flattening each ball; try to make them as thin as possible.
Take each circle of dough and fold one inch of dough inward toward the center. With your hands, grease the newly created strip with margarine or butter, and then fold again. Smear the strip of folded dough once again. Keep folding and greasing until you reach the end of each piece of dough.
Place the layered and folded strip of dough on its side and roll it around itself until you create a snail shape.
Repeat with the other dough balls and place them all on a tray. Cover in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (you can freeze if you like).
When you’re ready to cook the malawach, add a tablespoon of butter or oil to the frying pan and heat over medium flame.
Generously grease your hands and gently flatten each malawach snail into a flat round of dough which should be as wide as your frying pan.
Put the malawach in the pan and fry for 2–3 minutes until the bottom turns golden. Turn it over to the other side and fry for 2 more minutes.
This popular mint lemonade is easy to make at home. If you’re serving an Israeli-style meal, be sure to have a large pitcher of this refreshing drink on hand to cool off once you’ve had your fill of the “hot stuff”!
1 cup sugar
1¾ cups water, divided
1 cup fresh lemon juice
3½ cups ice
1 cup fresh mint leaves
6 mint sprigs for garnish
In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of water and sugar. Heat over medium, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Let the water cool to room temperature.
In a food processor or blender, combine the sugar water, lemon juice, ice, fresh mint leaves and remaining 3/4 cup of water.