Top 10 Israeli Foods You Must Try
With over thousands of years of culinary tradition, Israeli food is one of the most delicious and healthy cuisines in the world.
Israeli cuisine has adopted dishes both from local traditions and from the Jews of the Diaspora. Additionally, influences from the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Asia, Africa, and Europe all have contributed to the different foods of Israel.
Below we list the top 10 contemporary as well as traditional Israeli food you must try.
Most Popular Israeili Foods
Comprised primarily of chickpeas, tahini (a type of sesame-based condiment), and lemon, hummus is a staple in the Israeli diet. It is rich and creamy in texture with a nutty, smooth flavor.
Locals eat hummus not only as a dip for vegetables or bread but as a main dish making it extremely versatile.
Due to its popularity, some consider hummus the unofficial ‘national food of Israel.’ You can find hummus literally everywhere, from the Israeli street food scene to restaurants, grocery, and convenience stores.
Falafel is another popular food in Israel that is a must try. This cherished dish is made from chickpeas, formed into a ball, and then deep-fried for a crispy, brown exterior.
While falafel has its origins from Egypt, Jewish pioneers brought and adapted their chickpea version of falafel to Israel.
Locals today pair this tasty treat alongside hummus, Israeli salad, or other Middle Eastern snacks.
Touted as a close competitor to hummus and falafel as one of the best Israeli dishes, Shakshuka is a breakfast dish, common to locals.
Loosely translated as ‘shaken’ or ‘mixed up,’ this homey meal consists of eggs cooked in tomato sauce and peppers. Oftentimes, onions, herbs, vegetables, and cheese are also included to add variety to the dish.
The entire Shakshuka dish is typically served in the same iron pan that it was cooked in with bread on the side.
Another exceptionally versatile Israeli food, Tahini is a type of paste that is frequently used as a dip, condiment, or simply on its own.
The paste consists of toasted and ground-up sesame seeds that are thinned out with lemon juice and water. It has a light, but rich and nutty flavor.
For those who are health conscientious, Tahini is rich in Vitamin B and E, along with magnesium, iron and calcium.
Tahini is a key ingredient in popular Israeli foods such as hummus and baba ganoush.
This traditional Middle Eastern dessert is widely popular in Israel. Kanafeh is a type of pastry soaked in a sweet syrup and layered with cheese. You may also see nuts or clotted cream sprinkled on top of this dish.
Kanafeh has become quite trendy in Israel with many shops and stalls offering this dessert. The Israeli version of Kanafeh tends to be less sweet compared to the Arab-style versions sold within Israel.
Shawarma is another extremely popular Middle Eastern dish, typically served out on Israeli street stalls.
In this dish, seasoned meat is stacked in a cone shape and rotates slowly beside a heating element. Meat is then shaved off in thin slices with a long knife and served in a sandwich or pita wrap.
While meat in shawarmas can include anything from lamb, chicken, or beef, Israeli shawarmas generally consist of dark turkey meat served with tahini sauce.
7. Baba Ganoush
Israelis love their eggplant dishes, and Baba Ganoush is no exception.
Originating from Lebanon, this appetizer consists of mashed eggplant, tahini, olive oil, and other various seasonings.
The unpeeled eggplant is traditionally prepared by baking or broiling over an open flame. This gives the pulp a soft, pleasant, and smoky taste.
Israel has another popular variant of this dish known as ‘Israeli eggplant salad,’ which utilizes fried or grilled eggplant, mayonnaise, salt, chopped onions, and lemon.
Sabich is a famous food of Israel, introduced by Iraqi Jews in the 1940s and 1950s. Since no cooking was allowed during Sabbath, the Jews would pre-cook fried eggplant, hard-boiled eggs, and potatoes, stuffing them all in pita bread to eat cold.
Today, along with the eggplant and eggs, Sabich can be served with Israeli salad, parsley, tahini sauce, and amba. You can find this popular sandwich through various vendors at open-air stalls on Israeli streets.
Brought in by the Ashkenazi Jewish community, latkes are a popular potato pancake dish in Israel. It was traditionally prepared specifically to celebrate Hanukkah.
Two main variations include a grated and a puréed potato version. Onions, eggs, flour, and matzo meal are mixed in as well, to be fried in batches.
While technically not a ‘food,’ Hafuch is an espresso-based drink that is worth trying when in Israel.
Hafuch literally means ‘upside-down coffee,’ and for good reason. In a latte, the espresso is on the bottom with the milk poured on top.
However, Hafuch is the opposite. Steamed milk starts out on the bottom, followed by espresso slowly being poured on top.
The taste of Hafuch is likened to a latte except creamier and perhaps a bit smoother.
Reading about Israel’s finest cuisine is one thing, but tasting these local dishes in person is quite another.
Immanuel Tours is one of the most experienced Israeli tour companies you can find. You’ll have the opportunity to partake in the Israeli food scene, explore the ancient cities, and commemorate the different holy sites.
Contact us today to start planning your tour of the Holy Land!