7 Quintessential Israeli Foods You Must Try

Hummus, falafel, and tahini are just a few Israeli foods you can’t leave without trying.

Lotus seed hummus.
Lotus seed hummus. Photo: Nadia Cho

Israeli cuisine is a combination of local dishes and influences that Jews from the Diaspora brought to Israel. Today’s Israeli dishes truly flourished during the 1970’s that incorporate much of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods. For a foodie like me, I’d do anything for a good meal. But Israel food, forget about it, it’s my favorite. Here are some quintessential dishes you must try.

Hummus

Hummus
UNSPLASH Nicholas Barbaros

One of the BEST foods in Israel that goes great with pita. Or if you’re free-carb, any fresh veggie as accompaniment is still amazing. I normally order hummus to start before my meals even though sometimes hummus alone fills me just enough.

Tahini

hummus tahini
Image by danad94d from Pixabay 

Staple alert! Talk about an Israeli dinner with no tahini, it wouldn’t be complete. It’s a dressing-like dip substance made from toasted ground hulled sesame. Tahini goes with everything. From salads to French fries, you can even have Tahini-flavored ice cream.

Baba ghanoush

Baba ghanoush
INSTAGRAM @myfussyeaters

People eat this in many different ways but it’s typically served as an appetizer. Baba ghanoush is an eggplant-base dish mixed with tahini and olive oil. You can either eat it as a dip with pita or as a plate with rice. I would say this a must-try even if you don’t like eggplant.

Falafel

Falafel
UNSPLASH Daria Nepriakhina

Aaaah yes. Falafel… When in Tel Aviv, it was one of the best and cheapest meals in town. A traditional dish in the Middle East, falafel is a deep-fried patty ball made from ground chickpeas and / or fava beans. I normally ordered it in a pita, while many dip falafel into tahini and it seriously is just wow.

Kanafeh

Kanafeh
UNSPLASH Mehrshad Rajabi

The first time I tried Kanafeh was on birthright with my Solider (shoutout to Inbal.) She insisted that I tried this cheese-like dessert sweetness. It was SO good. Kanafeh is popular in Egypt and other countries in the Arab World, it’s typically made with shredded filo soaked in sugary syrup layered with cheese, nuts and cream. People sometimes drizzle more syrup on it or you can eat it plain just like I did!

Shakshouka

Shakshouka Israeli foods
UNSPLASH amirali mirhashemian

Stop right there.. egg and red sauce combined. WHAT COULD BE BETTER? Nothing. Breakfast, lunch, brunch you name it. This is one of the most popular breakfast dishes in Israel. Shakshouka is made with poached eggs in tomato sauce with the addition of garlic, peppers, onions and olive oil. The star ingredients though are in the combination of spices, including: cayenne pepper, paprika, nutmeg and cumin.

Shawarma

Shawarma Israeli foods
Image by GKat from Pixabay 

If you have been following along with me, you know shawarma is something I constantly dream about. This mIddle Eastern street food is often seen as a cone-like large piece of meat, slowly turning on a vertical rotisserie. The meat is traditionally mutton, but today, you can find chicken, beef or veal shawarma. When it’s ready to be served, the vendor FRESHLY shaves it and it’s perfect. Some people say it reminds them of gyro but it’s even better.

Sydney Dreyfus

Contributor

Sydney has an out of the box personality and is passionate about finding the best food wherever she is. She is an absolute foodie and will travel many miles for a cup of coffee. She hopes to spend more years in Israel and traveling the rest of the world.

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