Israel: Recipes and Cuisine

Country | Israel Wailing Wall Image

Jewish culinary traditions often date back to Biblical times. Yet while Jews as a people have endured for over 3000 years, the modern state of Israel is relatively young. That coupled with the instability of the Palestinian conflict, have made it difficult for a truly national Israeli cuisine to develop. Nevertheless, a steady influx of Jewish immigrants from around the world has made for an exotic mix of flavors on the Israeli table and in the street.

Israeli Jewish Recipes

Apple Fritters

Desserts | Jewish Apple Fritters

(Jewish batter-fried apple rings)

Apples are a popular treat at Hanukkah, whether served as an applesauce topping for latkes or fried in a tasty batter for apple fritters, a tradition that supposedly originated among Greek Jews. Read more »

Beid Hamine

Ingredients | Eggs Image

(Egyptian slow-cooked eggs)

Beid hamine is an Egyptian dish with origins in Egypt's ancient Jewish community. The long cooking time comes from the Jewish tradition of slow cooking food overnight to serve on Shabbat, when cooking is forbidden. Read more »

Braised Short Ribs

Meats | Braised Short Ribs

(Jewish beef ribs simmered in red wine)

While brisket is the traditional choice for Passover, more and more Jews are turning to braised beef short ribs as a more tender, flavorful and luxurious option for their post-Seder meal. Read more »

Carrot Tzimmes

Vegetables | Carrot Tzimmes Image

(Israeli Jewish carrots braised with honey)

Tzimmes, or tsimmes, is a Jewish side dish that is a traditional part of a Rosh Hashanah meal. Carrot, or mehren, tzimmes, are a favorite, slowly simmered with honey to make a sweet dish symbolizing a sweet new year. Read more »

Chakchouka

Vegetables | Chakchouka Image

(North African eggs poached in a pepper ragout)

This dish, with many variations, is a popular breakfast in North Africa, especially in Algeria and Tunisia. Most recipes include the eggs, but they can actually be left out if you like. Jewish immigrants from the Maghreb have made this a popular breakfast dish in Israel. Read more »

Challah

Breads | Challah

(Israeli Jewish braided Sabbath bread)

Challah is the traditional bread that begins Sabbath meals in every observant Jewish home. These braided loaves are a symbol and reminder of the miraculous manna that fell from the heavens to feed the Israelites as they wandered in the desert. For Rosh Hashanah, a round challah is favored and symbolizes the cycle of the year. Read more »

Epl Tsimes

(Israeli Jewish apple sauce; see Apfelmus recipe)

Falafel

Sides | Falafel Image

(Middle Eastern fried chickpea patties)

Falafel is the original veggie burger and is a common dish throughout the Middle East. It is found in Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Egypt, and is especially popular with Palestinians. In Egypt it is known as tamiyah or taamiyah. Israelis sometimes call it the "national food of Israel." Read more »

Gundi

(Jewish chickpea and chicken dumplings)

Gundi, a wholesome and comforting dish of dumplings made of ground chicken and chickpea flour, originated with the Jewish population of Iran. The recent emigration of Iranian Jews people to Israel has made gundi (sometimes called gondi) more and more familiar to Israelis. Read more »

Hamantaschen

Desserts | Hamantaschen

(Israeli Jewish filled tricorner Purim pastries)

Purim is a spring holiday on the Jewish calendar commemorating Queen Esther's rescue of Persian Jews from mass slaughter at the hands of the evil Haman. Ashkenazi Jews traditionally celebrated the two-day holiday with mohntaschen, "poppyseed pockets," a simple pastry sweet. Over time this three-cornered confection took on the name of the nemesis in the Torah story. The three sides are said to represent the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Read more »

Holishkes

(Israeli Jewish stuffed cabbage rolls; see Gołąbki recipe)

Hummus bi Tahina

Appetizers | Hummus bi Tahina

(Middle Eastern chickpea and sesame dip)

Hummus is popular appetizer, or meze, throughout the Middle East. Serve with grilled or toasted pita bread cut into wedges. Or use as a sandwich or wrap spread. Read more »

Israeli Salad

(Israeli Jewish tomato and cucumber salad; see Horiatiki Salata variations)

Kasha Varnishkes

(Jewish-Israeli buckwheat groats with bowtie pasta; see Kasha variations)

Knaidlach

Dumplings | Matzo Ball Soup

(Israeli, Jewish matzo balls in broth)

This recipe will give you knaidlach (KNAYD-lach) just like Bubbe used to make. In this most famous of Passover dishes, matzo meal is mixed with eggs and a little water and oil and gently formed into balls that are simmered then served in chicken broth. Also spelled knaidels or knaidelach. Read more »

Latkes

Vegetables | Latkes Image

(Israeli Jewish potato pancakes)

Jewish latkes originated with the peoples of northeastern Europe. They are a favorite treat the year round, but are especially popular during Hanukkah when foods fried in oil are traditional. Read more »

Lekach

Ingredients | Honey Pot Image

(Israeli Jewish honey cake)

Lekach is a spiced honey cake that is especially popular for Rosh Hashanah when sweet dishes symbolize a sweet New Year on the Jewish calendar. Read more »

Lokshen Kugel

Desserts | Lokshen Kugel Image

(Israeli Jewish sweet noodle pudding)

Kugels are sweet or savory puddings that originated with Ashkenazi Jews, those from Eastern Europe. Lokshen kugel, or "noodle pudding," is probably the most popular. It is usually sweet and is often studded with chopped fruit. Kugels are often served at Sabbath meals and for Jewish holidays. Sometimes spelled kigel. Read more »

Matzo Brei

Ingredients | Matzo Image

(Jewish-Israeli fried flatbread and eggs)

Matzo brei (pronounced MAHT-zuh bree, or MAHT-zuh breye) is a tasty and easy breakfast dish and is a good way to use up leftover matzot after Passover. And kids love it. Every family has their own way of making this dish. The biggest dispute seems to be whether sweet or savory is best. It's up to you to decide. Sometimes spelled matzah brei. Read more »

Pirogen, or Piroshke

(Israeli Jewish stuffed dumplings; see Pierogi recipe)

Pita

Breads | Pita Image

(Mediterranean pocket bread)

Pita bread is common throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Versions of this simple round loaf are found from Northern Africa to as far east as India. The popularity of pita, also known as khoubz araby, is said to have been spread eastward and westward by the conquering armies of Alexander the Great. Read more »

Shawarma

Sandwiches | Shawarma Image

(Middle Eastern spiced meat sandwich)

Shawarma is popular throughout the eastern Mediterranean and is sometimes called the Middle Eastern taco. It originated in northwestern Turkey as döner kebab, which reached its current form and popularity with the Turkish population in Germany. The shawarma sandwich is now found in a variety of forms around the world. Read more »

Sufganiyot

Desserts | Sufganiyot

(Israeli Jewish filled donuts)

Sufganiyot (singular: sufganiyah) are jelly or cream-filled donuts that are a traditional favorite for Hanukkah, when foods fried in oil are customary. Originally enjoyed by East European Jews, these sweet treats are now wildly popular in Israel for during the 8-day festival. Many gourmet versions are available. Read more »

Sweet and Sour Brisket

Meats | Brisket

(Israeli Jewish braised brisket)

Slow-braised brisket is a traditional part of Passover and Rosh Hashanah meals and other family gatherings in many Jewish households. Most Jewish brisket recipes have a sweet-sour flavor to the braising liquid. Read more »

Tabouli

Salads | Tabouli Image

(Middle Eastern bulgur and parsley salad)

An easy, refreshing and healthy Middle Eastern salad, tabouli is made of bulgur wheat, finely chopped parsley and scallions dressed simply with lemon juice and olive oil. The dish goes by various spellings including tabbouleh, taboule, taboulleh, tabouleh, and tabboulleh. Read more »

Taratour

Sauces | Taratour Image

(Middle Eastern sesame sauce)

Taratour is a favorite sauce in the Eastern Mediterranean. Serve it with shawarma, fish, falafel, kefta or over vegetables. Sometimes spelled taratoor, taratur or tarator. Read more »