I am hopelessly in love with Israeli cuisine! I found in it everything that I love: Mediterranean vegetables, juicy fruits, an ocean of spices, a lot of garlic and oil, everything washed down with pomegranate juice or local wine, and on top of all this, warm and fluffy pitas – a dream come true! There was no difference between dishes eaten in a hurry and prepared in street bars and long feasts with fancy food. Both were always an explosion of flavours making my taste buds reel from pleasure. Two most popular dishes in Israel are falafel (crunchy deep-fried balls made of chickpeas, served in pitas and topped with tahina sauce) and hummus (spread made from chickpeas, served with pitas and vegetables).
Falafel and hummus are a sort of Israeli fast food, which is eaten by everyone (both dishes are kosher and vegetarian), at any time and everywhere. Apart from them, Israel offers a real mixture of cuisines from all over the world. Obviously, like everywhere else, you can eat here an Italian pizza, sushi or Chinese food but you’ll find also more exotic cuisines – Yemeni, Lebanese or Iraqi. So where should you go to eat well? Let’s see…
Hauntingly delicious hummus in Jaffa
On your visit to Jaffa don’t forget to pop in Abu Hasan bar for wonderful hummus. Energetic and smiling gentlemen will quickly serve you a huge portion of hummus with pitas, spicy sauce and onion. If you’re not very hungry, order only one serving to share between two because they are really big. A portion costs 17 shekels. The place is teeming with life and an energetic owner is in charge here, sitting new guests down by the tables. How to get there? The bar is hidden off the beaten track so the fact that it’s almost always crowded shows that many people go out of their way especially to eat here. When you reach the main street in Jaffa called Yehuda Hayamit, go along that street up the hill, till its end. You’ll finally get to a small roundabout and you’ll probably be able to spot from there a small crowd at the corner of Ha-Dolfin Street – that’s the bar you’re looking for! Don’t forget that on Sabbath (Friday after the sunset till Saturday inclusive) the place is locked and empty!
Every place has its own way of serving hummus. Usual “street” set includes pita bread, onion as a sort of munchy, and obviously the chickpeas spread, sprinkled with spices and coriander. Braver ones may also get an extremely hot sauce – once tasted, not soon to be forgotten.
Most hummus bars are decorated in a very simple and familiar manner. They are not exclusive restaurants but rather local eateries where the citizens pop in for a quick cheap lunch.
A photo from the website http://www.sweetsonian.com
Shakshouka is a dish frequently served for breakfast in Israel. It seems like nothing special, just eggs, but the company of tomatoes and spices makes them taste quite differently. It’s a sort of Middle Eastern version of sunny side up eggs. You may even buy a special shakshouka seasoning mixture at bazaars – a good idea for a culinary souvenir from Israel.
Awesome hummus in the centre of Tel Aviv
In the very heart of HaCarmel Bazaar there is a place serving wonderfully delicious and cheap hummus. When you walk along the main street of the bazaar, search for the blue sign “Humus” and buy a portion of the heavenly smooth spread with chosen favourite additions: tahina, onion, sauce or egg. Prices range from 12 to 16 szekels.
In the bazaar confusion it’s easy to overlook that place as different stalls frequently hide it from view.
Interestingly, despite their great fondness for hummus, the Israelis rarely prepare it at home. It takes a lot of time to do it and they simply don’t feel like making it by themselves.
Perfectly crunchy falafel with aromatic additions in Tel Aviv
We ate falafel in this small inconspicuous bar a few times and it was always delicious! You can choose from various options: falafel in pita, tortilla, on a plate… But the additions play the main role here. You may choose from multiple way-out salads and sauces and plate them yourself at a self-service bar. Those salads were a real explosion of my favourite flavours: lots of herbs, lots of fresh vegetables, lots of garlic and leafy greens. Falafel-stuffed pita with additions: 16 shekels. Where is that? The bar is located on Allenby Street at the junction with Nag’ara Street. If you go in the direction of bazaar, it’ll be on your right-hand side. Definitely recommended!
You’ll meet plenty of locals here. On the outside, the bar is very inconspicuous but the food it offers is both affordable and generously served.
The chickpeas patties taste great almost everywhere in Israel but the richness of additions served in this bar gives it a substantial competitive advantage over other eateries.
Bakery next to the HaCarmel Market in Tel Aviv
A bakery teeming with life and filled with enchanting smell, bursting at the seams with various pitas, breads, rolls, croissants, cookies and pies. Before Sabbath the place looks as if they were giving there something for free – it’s so crowded! Prices are lower than in Abouelafia Bakery recommended everywhere.
Bułka nadziewana bakłażanem i serem, bomba!
Placek z szakszuką czyli jajkami w pomidorach, poezja!
Perfect hummus in Acre
Inside this bar you’ll see a queue of people, which reminded us of the times of the communist era in Poland. This is the where you can eat the best hummus in the charming city of Acre, or at least the bar enjoys such reputation among the locals. A portion of the chickpeas spread topped with a generous amount of olive oil and served with pitas, onion, tomatoes, cucumbers and olives costs here 14 shekels. Hurry up, the bar closes after is sells out all hummus, which is around 2 p.m.! Yummy! How to get there? You just need to lose yourself in the narrow streets of the bazaar and sooner or later you’ll run into that place. I’m not sure if it actually has any address.
Humus Said – the most famous hummus bar in Acre!
Sometimes you have to wait for even half an hour for a free table…
The kitchen is abuzz with activity. It’s only chickpeas spread yet so many people are engaged in its preparation!
Kanafeh, the most popular dessert in Israel, is a perfect cherry on top of the culinary journey through that country. I must admit that its appearance didn’t appeal to me. It looks like a huge pie sinking in a sea of syrup and it is cut into pieces with the use of a putty knife. I was so wrong to judge that dessert by its appearance. Kanafeh is a rarity! It’s made of thin threads of the kadayif noodles (very popular in the Asian cuisine) and sheep’s cheese. It’s served hot when its top is slightly crunchy and its cheesy filling has a melt-in-the-mouth texture. Kanafeh is often sprinkled with pistachios and generously topped with very sweet syrup.
HOW DOES IT TASTE?
It’s hard for me to compare its taste to any other pie or dessert from Poland but due to presence of cheese I think it stands closest to cheesecake, but with pasta. Kanafeh is very belly-filling, one piece is enough even for those with a sweet tooth. I think that one can either love it or hate it. One thing is clear – you must taste it if you ever visit Israel!
Tu bardziej wykwintna wersja knaffe, zapewne posiadająca jakąś swoją specjalną nazwę…
And those who do not fall in love with Israeli flavours may always resort to… McDonalds… kosher, obviously!
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