The Book of New Israeli Food: A Culi­nary Journey

Jan­na Gur; Eilon Paz, photographer
  • Review
By – December 12, 2011

When one thinks of Israel, food is not the first thing that comes to mind. How­ev­er, with its loca­tion on the Mediter­ranean and the diverse culi­nary tra­di­tions of its pop­u­la­tion, Israel offers fine world­class cui­sine as well as spir­i­tu­al renew­al. Jan­na Gur, the founder of Al Hashulchan, Israel’s lead­ing food and wine mag­a­zine, has pro­duced a beau­ti­ful­ly illus­trat­ed vol­ume con­tain­ing both recipes and arti­cles about Israeli food. Every­thing from Israeli sal­ad, humus, pita, and grilled fish to flour­less choco­late pis­ta­chio cake will tempt read­ers. There are recipes for hol­i­days and basic spice mix­tures such as za’atar and haris­sa as well. Arti­cles about Israeli wines and cheeses and infor­ma­tion about spe­cial ingre­di­ents used in local cook­ing (kashkaval, labane, etc.) will help cooks under­stand and locate them. This will inspire peo­ple to vis­it Israel and then come home and cook what they ate on their trip.

Recipe: Hum­mus-style Bean Dip

Ingre­di­ents (serves 6):

1/2 kg (1 lb to 2 oz) dry white beans, soaked in water overnight
1 cup raw tahi­ni
1/2 cup fresh­ly squeezed lemon juice

The sauce:
2 table­spoons hon­ey
3 table­spoons pick­led (Moroc­can) lemons, chopped
10 fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 hot green pep­pers, roast­ed, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup aro­mat­ic (Souri) olive oil
3 – 4 table­spoons gar­lic confit

To Serve:
1/2 cup roast­ed almonds

1. Drain the beans and cook in salt­ed water for 3 – 4 hours, until com­plete­ly soft.

2. Mash the beans in a wood­en mor­tar and pes­tle (or in a food proces­sor) with some of the cook­ing liq­uid. Add the tahi­ni and lemon juice, sea­son with salt and mix well. 

3. Com­bine the sauce ingre­di­ents and adjust seasoning. 

4. Pour the sauce over the bean dip and top up with roast­ed almonds. 

Serv­ing Sug­ges­tion: Ladle the bean dip over a bed of cooked beans 

The Book of New Israeli Food by Jan­na Gur; Eilon Paz, pho­tog­ra­ph­er (Al Hashulchan Gas­tro­nom­ic
Media; 2007; $43.00

Bar­bara M. Bibel is a librar­i­an at the Oak­land Pub­lic Library in Oak­land, CA; and at Con­gre­ga­tion Netiv­ot Shalom, Berke­ley, CA.

Discussion Questions