The birthplace of two major religions, a country rich with ancestral history and more museums per capita than anywhere else in the world, welcome to Israel.
How to Reach: You can fly down to Istanbul and then catch a connecting flight Tel Aviv from there.
Best time to visit: April and May, October and November
Now if you find yourself in this religiously, architecturally and culturally enriched country with a whole lot of history, the traveller in you will certainly crave some good food too. And what is exploring a place without exploring its local cuisine. So, to guide you into what to eat and expect for your palate during your visit to Israel, here are our suggestions of must try dishes in this country:
Now this one almost all of us have had. I personally love it! And I know that hummus hasn’t necessarily originated from Israel itself but the dish has been so combined with its cuisine that it has given it its own touch. The hummus in today’s time belongs to all of the Middle East, so, you will be blessed with good hummus in Israel and its neighbours too. This dip is made out of chickpeas and is today garnished the world over with all sorts of ingredients. Its most popular partner is the pita bread. And not to forget that the hummus is rather healthy as well.
Another thing that the folks around here love dipping into their hummus is the falafel. And once again, its origin too is controversial. Let’s just say that a lot of the dishes on this article may or may not have been originally invented in Israel but the cuisine’s adoption of them has made them an intrinsic part of it today. The falafels are fried chickpea balls with a nice crunchy exterior. The skin of the balls is crispy and leads to a soft interior flavoured with cumin, coriander and cilantro. Their smoky taste makes them a delight for the mouth. Similarly, another popular dish that you ought to try in Israel is the shawarma.
Meet the traditional breakfast eaten by the Israeli Jews on occasions such as the shabbat mornings and today consumed as a tasty and reliable food on the go. This is a sandwich but do not write it off as an ordinary one. So, what’s so unique about it you ask? For starters, it contains fried slices of eggplant! There is also a hard-boiled egg, hummus, salad, traditional pickles of Israel and a mango-pickled sauce called amba. The sandwich feels fresh thanks to its ingredients and at the same time it’s a nice blend of spicy meets tangy.
Now if you are looking for a heavy meal and waiting for your ravenous appetite to be nice and full then I hereby introduce to the cholent. This traditional delicacy is a uniquely Jewish dish and can be found wherever the Jews have lived. This dish originated on account of the fact that under the practice of Jewism no cooking is to be done during shabbath. So, what’s shabbath? It is deemed as the holiest day of the week occurring from sundown on Friday till night fall on Saturday. As a result, the community started preparing beef with vegetables on a low flame. The meat is actually allowed to cook on a slow flame overnight so that the stoves do not have to be made active but instead they can just serve themselves a nice hot bowl of cholent. It is a thick soup with meat and vegetables having a nice piquancy to it.
The Israeli cuisine at large loves its creamy textures in their dishes, thus, it comes as no surprise that their prime desert is a milk-based pudding. Meet malabi. It is also much loved in the country on account of the fact that it can be cooked under just 10 minutes! The dish involves just milk, rice or cornstarch, sugar, nuts, maple or sugar syrup, vanilla extract and its distinctively recognisable ingredient, rose water. Easy to prepare but aromatically inviting, this desert is a light yet creamy delight.
Another popular dish from the Middle East which is often available in cafes at home nowadays is the tahini. But for an authentic taste you certainly have to try it within the country itself. For the uninitiated, tahini is a condiment which can either be consumed as a sauce by itself or even be used to add to the taste of hummus. It is made from ground hulled sesame which is toasted upon a slow fire to acquire its taste. You can enjoy it with pita or nicely chopped fresh veggies.
Want to start your weekend with a nice and different breakfast? Bored of the regular omelettes? Trust me and try making the shakshuka at home! Ready under just 30 minutes, not only is the shakshuka an easy one to prepare but it lives up to the promise of yumminess. Open pureed and then lightly roasted bed of tomatoes sit as many sunny side-up eggs as you like. The final garnishing is made with fresh coriander. Break in the egg to let its yellow gooey taste seep into the tomatoes to allow you a true flavour of this dish.
Think of dried and sweetened seviya and you will know what to picture when you get down to experimenting and trying kanafeh. This is a Middle Eastern desert made with semolina dough or with a noodle-like pastry. Sweetened cheese is layered in it along with nuts, cream and syrup. Once ready to eat, grab a spoon and pour a tiny amount of warm milk over this to add to its taste. Its one of those dishes that feels like comfort food even when you are far away from home due to its simplicity and warmth.
Have a great trip and a whole lot of amazing meals to make it even greater. Happy hogging!
Click here if you want to read about Armenian Cuisine!
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