Wherever you go in Israel, you are guaranteed to encounter streets and markets brimming with Israel’s finest culinary offerings. In a region renowned for its incredible street food, local vendors, and hidden gem eateries, you will be treated to beloved national delicacies such as hummus, falafel, shawarma, and shakshuka. Food occupies a central place in Israeli identity and serves as a unifying force among people of various backgrounds. Discovering something delectable to suit every palate is a breeze, and regardless of your choice, your taste buds are in for an extraordinary experience. To make your culinary exploration easier, let’s delve into the delightful list of the best Israeli dishes.
Best Israeli Dishes You Must Try:
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Shakshuka, the unofficial national dish of Israel, actually comes from North Africa, but is very popular in Israel at any time of the day. Shakshuka is made from eggs, tomatoes, tomato paste, chili peppers and onions. But there are also variations with peppers, feta, eggplant or spinach. Served with pita bread.
Hummus is an oriental specialty made from pureed chickpeas and tahini paste. In Israel, the classic hummus variant should not be missing on any mezze plate. But there are also variants with chicken or beef, which can also be eaten as a main course. Traditionally, hummus is eaten with pita bread.
Falafel are small fried balls made from chickpeas and a variety of spices. They are classically served with salad, sesame paste tahini and hummus in a pita bread. Originally, falafel balls were a poor man’s meal served only with a little sesame sauce. Today it’s a popular street food dish that you should definitely try in Israel.
Sabich consists of fried or baked eggplant slices, hard-boiled eggs with tahini, and is wrapped in a flatbread. It’s a tasty, meatless alternative to shawarma.
Shawarma is an Israeli kebab with hummus, eggplant, lettuce, meat and sauces. I personally like the Israeli version much better than the Turkish one. For me, shawarma is an absolute street food must-try in Israel. It’s good everywhere, even in the smallest nondescript stores.
6. Baba Ganoush
Baba Ganoush is a puree of grilled eggplant with tahini, lemon juice, garlic and spices. It is eaten as an appetizer with fresh bread or served as a dip with shawarma and falafel.
Tahini is a paste made from finely ground sesame seeds. It comes from Arabic cuisine and is a basic ingredient in hummus. Mixed with lemon juice and garlic, tahini is also eaten as a side dish or as a dip.
Amba is a sweet and spicy mango dip that is very popular in Israeli cuisine. It’s made with mangoes, vinegar, salt, mustard, turmeric, chili, and fenugreek. It is served in Israel as a dressing on sabich and as a dip for falafel, kebabs, salads and shawarma.
9. Israeli Breakfast
An Israeli breakfast consists of fresh bread, cheese, sausage, hummus, salad, spreads, eggs, vegetables and fruit. There is also coffee or tea and usually an orange juice.
It’s a good choice for those who don’t know what to eat in the morning. It’s best to try everything right away.
In order to try as many dishes from Israeli cuisine as possible, you should definitely order a mezze platter in a restaurant. The platter includes salads, grilled eggplant, hummus, falafel, grilled meat, fish, and just about every other item on my list. It’s another dish for those who don’t know what to eat.
The Old Men in The Sea in Tel Aviv Yafo Port is famous for its mezze menu with 23 different dishes. If you want to eat your way through a large part of Israeli cuisine in one evening, then it is a recommendation. It’s good because the choice is so wide.
11. Medjool dates
The Medjool date is the queen of dates and is widely grown in Israel. For example, you can enjoy them as a dessert with a fresh mint tea. You can also find the dates in dishes from time to time or they are processed into date syrup and used to sweeten drinks.
Search for the Medjool dates in the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv. You will also find a wide range of other fruits, fruit and street food shops with interesting dishes.
Knafeh is a Levantine dessert made with cheese and kadayif. Knafeh is very popular throughout the Eastern Mediterranean such as Greece, Turkey , Palestine, Israel and Syria or Lebanon. Ideally, you eat it warm, right after it comes out of the oven. It tastes good with a yoghurt ice cream.
Malabi is a typical Israeli dessert made from rice flour or cornstarch and milk. Simply put, the light milk pudding is a slim version of the Italian panna cotta. The milk is flavored with rose water or orange blossom water and at the end Malabi is sprinkled with sweet syrups (e.g. maple syrup) and chopped nuts like pistachios or walnuts.
Israel even has its own street stands with Malabi. Dessert is also common in restaurants.
Rugelach is a simple Jewish pastry. The small croissants are made from dough with cream or sour cream and filled with chocolate ganache, nuts, raisins or jam.
The little croissants are sold on every corner in Israel. It is perfect with coffee or as a small snack in between.
15. Israeli bread
Most of us already know pita, the typical, world-famous flatbread from Israel. But you will find much more than just pita bread in a Israeli bakery.
Here are a few interesting breads from Israel:
- Challah: is Jewish yeast braid. It is mostly baked for the Sabbath and holidays. The bread is similar to German yeast plaited bread, but is not sweet and also goes well with savory dishes.
- Kubaneh: is a slow-baked bread of the former Jewish population of Yemen, which Jews living there once brought to Israel. During the long baking time at very low temperatures, a special flavor develops.
- Matzo: is a thin flatbread eaten by religious and traditional Jews during Passover. It is made from water and one of the five grains wheat, rye, barley, oats or spelt.
Now that you know all the best dishes to try, come to Tel Aviv and try them in the best restaurants in the city, you will be delighted both with food and places.