The last few months have been difficult for international travellers, and even though restrictions are slowly being lifted, there’s no denying that for some of us the disappointment of not being able to visit certain countries is going to be hard felt. With some of the best holiday destinations in the world still being off-limits, a really great way to take yourself there (at least in your heart and mind) is through the cuisine.
The national dish of Israel, which we still sadly can’t visit, is a healthy and simple meal that you can make at home that can really give you the feeling of being there – and give a delicious backdrop to your daydreaming! You’ve probably heard of falafel, but you might never have had it, and it’s even less likely you’ve made it yourself. In this article we’ll give you a great traditional recipe so you can bring the food culture of this amazing country to your kitchen!
Israel: A Foodies Dream
One of the most interesting things about Israel’s food culture is how diverse it is. Sitting at a crossroads between Europe and Asia, this Middle Eastern nation has incorporated elements of cultures from places as diverse as North Africa and Georgia.
Like any country famed for its markets, Israel’s food is often best explored on the streets. With stalls selling countless delicious dishes you’ll either run out of time or hunger!
Although falafel is (in many people’s opinion) the undisputed king of Israeli street food, honourable mentions should be given to shawarma, hummus and shakshuka as well. While you can’t get to the country yet, these are some delicacies you should definitely seek out when you do go there.
For something as delicious as this it’s almost a little hard to accept just how simple it is to make. However, as with anything so amazing, its history is quite contentious, with nations all over the region claiming it as their own.
The dish seems to have reached early Jewish communities in the region who adopted it alongside their Muslim neighbours. It was an easy and delicious meal which made it explode in popularity. Although the independence of Israel did not coincide with the adoption of falafel as the national dish, it was still on the menu throughout the country. In fact, its popularity was even boosted in a time of relative shortage – the austerity programmes that came in the late 1940s meant that cheap and easily available foods like this were in high demand. From then on it went from strength to strength, and you’ll see stalls, cafes and restaurants all over the country selling it today.
How to Make It
It really is very easy to make and this is one of the best recipes we’ve found.
- Start by soaking your chickpeas overnight, for about 24 hours in total. Then drain them well and rinse.
- Add your soaked chickpeas to a food processor and pulse with parsley, dill, coriander, garlic, onion and cumin and cayenne pepper. Add however much of these you like, and experiment from batch to batch to find your perfect combination of herbs and spices. It’s blended sufficiently when it is coarse and meal-like.
- Chill the mixture in the fridge for at least an hour.
- Add in some baking powder and sesame seeds then make golf ball sized balls or rounds with the mixture.
- Deep fry in oil for three to five minutes and enjoy!
Top Tip: good at any time of the day, falafel pairs great with pita bread and hummus!
Israel’s food culture really is very special. Just like any other country, the food reflects the past of the nation but eating here is like a gourmet history tour. Getting into a bit of the cuisine at home, starting with something as simple as falafel, will get you firmly in the mood for all the other wonderful delicacies you can expect to try when you eventually travel there for real.
How to Get There
Getting to Israel couldn’t be easier. You can fly into Tel Aviv Airport in a few short hours, with direct flights from the UK. Tel Aviv is the most popular entry point and from there it’s just a short trip to the city.
I would personally recommend booking yourself an airport transfer with Shuttle Direct to save time and hassle when arriving. They use professional local drivers who will get your holiday started in the most relaxing and stress-free way – just what you need after so long waiting to get there!
About Shuttle Direct
At Shuttle Direct we provide professional and considerate drivers who are also knowledgeable and friendly. Their experience and our convenient and hassle-free online booking service mean that your holiday will start in the right way. Let us get you wherever you need to go in style and comfort.