Israeli Spring

January 13, 2016 | By | Comments (8)

Chef Solomonov’s spiced beef and pine nut-topped hummus, featured in his recent cookbook Zahav

The rise of the Israeli plate is upon us—and the timing could not be more perfect. Qualities that the food world at large currently seeks on the plate—veggie dominance, vibrancy, and a sense of authenticity—the nation’s cuisine offers in abundance. Israeli-born chefs such as Michael Solomonov of Philadelphia’s Zahav, Yotam Ottolenghi of Nopi in London, and Alon Shaya of New Orleans-based Shaya are driving the trend, in their restaurants and in their books, at a time when the national cuisine is organically defining its identity—a rare and exciting evolution to witness in 2016. The nation of Israel is geographically small, historically young, and culturally eclectic, a unique combination for developing a distinct national flavor, according to Shaya. The food, encompassing dishes such as impossibly creamy hummus piled with savory toppings, succulent roasted lamb, and chargrilled vegetables accented with fresh herbs and tahini, was born of émigrés from Greece, Poland, Yemen, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ethiopia. “All of these cultures began cooking for each other on a small piece of land,” Shaya says. “This intense cultural blend is what I consider Israeli food.” He attributes the cuisine’s recent star turn largely to a proud new wave of young Israeli chefs who believe their nation’s food is worth preparing passionately and progressively. “Food should have a story to tell,” Shaya says, “and there are so many rich stories to tell of the cultures in Israel.”

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  2. Chef

    Dear Cooking Light,
    Please get things right and stay out from politics!
    Hummus, falafel, labnah, baba famous he etc have always been traditional Middle-Eastern meze food and especially national snack food for Palestinians. Many Israelis give credit to the Palestinians for the hummus and falafel. To ignore that is pretty serious in terms of identity and food culture.
    Kind Regards,
    The Middle-eastern Chef

    January 22, 2016 at 7:17 am
  3. Rena E

    Serious! Israeli dish!! This is actually an Arabic Dish. So please stop the propaganda.

    January 21, 2016 at 10:14 pm
  4. Amal

    Please stop publishing recipes from Palestine and Arab countries and claim they are Israeli dishes. They stole our land and cannot steal our culture…Enough is enough!

    January 21, 2016 at 5:28 pm
  5. Kris

    Hummus is great but it is and always will be a traditional Arabic dish. Israeli’s may be eating it, but they are not the originators–nor are they alone–hummus is in nearly every American supermarket!

    January 21, 2016 at 4:49 pm
  6. Katrina

    This is actually an Arab dish. Please let’s get that correct.

    January 21, 2016 at 12:00 pm
  7. Kristine Kemp Neil

    I wish there was a recipe to accompany this picture!

    January 21, 2016 at 11:41 am
  8. Make Shichimi Your New Rave | Cooking Light

    […] Why Israeli Food Is So Popular […]

    January 19, 2016 at 11:01 am

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