The rise of Israeli cuisine

 fried kibbe

Over the last several years, Israeli cuisine has made a huge splash all over the world. In the UK, Yotam Ottolenghi has reached icon status and currently his cookbook Plenty is on more EYB Bookshelves than any other book in the Library. In the US, Michael Solomonov's restaurant Zahav is making waves and his cookbook of the same name is also highly regarded. FSR Magazine explores the many reasons why the time was right for Israeli foods to reach a larger audience

Explaining the cuisine can be difficult says Chef Solomonov. "Israeli cuisine is almost what it's not; it's not only Middle Eastern or Mediterranean or Jewish, it's all of those and more," he notes, adding "There are also influences from Bulgaria, Hungary, Turkey, Greece, Russia, Yemen, and now Ethiopia and Georgia because of all the people coming to the country and the blend of cultures." It's this blending of cultures, each bringing their own flavors and techniques, that makes Israeli cuisine exciting. 

The spice most associated with Israeli food is za'atar, a blend of herbs like cumin and oregano, salt or sumac, and sesame. Other major flavors include the familiar olive oil and lemon, plus many unique seasonings like urfa biber, a smoked, mild pepper from Turkey and hawayej, a Yemenite spice blend with turmeric, cumin, black pepper, coriander, and fenugreek used to season chicken, fish, rice couscous, and salads.

Photo of Fried kibbe from Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook

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