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One can say Israel food culture is very new, since Israel only became a nation in 1948, however its roots go back to biblical times. If you want to do hard research, you could open the Old Testament and read about the magical manna that sustained the Hebrews in the wilderness.
The one million dollar question is, “what is Israeli food.” The closes thing to answer this in a sentence is: a fusion of Arab, Jewish, and Eastern Europe and North Africa, both religious and secular cuisine.
Israel’s delicious fusion of foods were due to the cultural melting pot of the region of North Africa (Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria) and its Middle Eastern neighbors (Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon), as well as other Mediterranean countries, combined with the Jews who flooded the new State of Israel at the end of the 19th century from Eastern Europe and Russia. These early Northern settlers brought with them culture and food to Israel, who clung on to their culinary roots as a way of preserving culture, but in time began sharing cooking styles.
If you tour Israel from its coastal region to the Galilee, and from the Judean Hills to Acre the reoccurring themes will include olives, fresh vegetable salads, falafel, pita, filo dough pastries, and a lot of hummus!
Check out some of the favorite foods you’ll find in Israel:
Hummus is a Levantine dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas or other beans, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. It is popular in the Middle East and in Middle Eastern cuisine around the globe.
Falafel or felafel is a deep-fried ball, doughnut or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both.
Msabbaha is a variation of hummus popular in the Levant. In the Galilee it is also known as mashausha.
Khachapuri, the Georgian Cheese Bread
Khachapuri is a traditional Georgian dish of cheese-filled bread. The bread is leavened and allowed to rise, and is shaped in various ways, usually with cheese in the middle and a crust which is ripped off and used to dip in the cheese.
Challah (Bnei Brak)
Challah, plural: challot or challos is a special Jewish bread, usually braided and typically eaten on ceremonial occasions such as Sabbath and major Jewish holidays.
Usually next to the olives at most markets. Preserved lemons are the finishing touch on a stew, a piece of fish, a plate of couscous, or really whatever else needs flavoring of this type.
Shakshouka is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions, often spiced with cumin. In its present egg and vegetable-based originated in Tunisia. It is popular in the Middle East and North Africa.
Egg in Challah Toast
Challah bread with an egg in the middle. The toast is pan-fried in bone marrow.
Bowl of diced, vegetables: cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers. It's a common part of the breakfast, and also served for all meals.
Halloumi or hellim is a Cypriot semi-hard, unripened, brined cheese made from a mixture of goat's and sheep's milk, and sometimes also cow's milk. It has a high melting point and so can easily be fried or grilled.
Shawarma also spelled shawurma or shawerma, is a Levantine meat preparation, where lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, veal, or mixed meats are placed on a spit, and may be grilled for as long as a day.
Carpaccio is a dish of raw meat or fish, thinly sliced or pounded thin and served mainly as an appetizer.
In Israel you’ll find a variety of fish including blue tilapia better known as St. Peter’s fish, and denis fish both caught in the Sea of Galilee. Salmon, tuna, and bass among many other common fish in the area.
Murtabak or martabak, also mutabbaq, is a stuffed pancake or pan-fried bread which is commonly found in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand.
Kanafah is a traditional Palestinian dessert made with cheese pastry soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup. It is popular throughout the Arab world, especially in Levant, principally in Palestine.
Arak or araq is a Levantine alcoholic spirit in the anis drinks family. It is a clear, colorless, unsweetened anise-flavored distilled alcoholic drink.
Take a video tour of the best cuisine Israel has to offer!