It’s already the 10th, which means it’s time to travel the culinary world with the Eat the World Recipe Challenge! This month takes us to Israel!
As usual with this challenge, I’ve had Israeli food, so a lot of research was needed. The recipes were all over the place and I had no idea what was authentic or not. I was kind of stumped.
Then I randomly opened an email from Amazon – you know the kind you ignore all the time? Those, “look at all this cool stud that comes with your Prime membership!” type of things. I nearly always delete them with nary a cursory glance. But for whatever reason, this time I clicked through and started looking at the books. And after a scroll or two, what do I see, but Zahav, a cookbook all about Israeli food!
The book follows Solomonov’s journey as he grows up in the US and Israel and how it shapes him and eventually leads him to open an Israeli recipe in the US.
What I learned in the book is that the people of Israel come form all over and so does their food! It has slowly merged together to become its own unique cuisine.
What I loved the most was Solomonov’s take on Israeli food in the US. His thoughts very much echo Edward Lee’s thoughts from Buttermilk Graffiti (see my post on that book here) – it is possible to stay true to a cuisine even while changing it (because the same ingredients are not always readily available in different locations). You can keep the warm and heart of a recipe, of a cuisine, even if the ingredients change a bit. Lee calls this true fusion cuisine, Solomonov calls it a necessity.
I had tons of recipes bookmarked, before finally settling on Chicken Albonigas (a recipe Solomonov says comes from his grandmother.) The ingredients were familiar enough that I felt like I could get the family on board (even though the spice palate was a little out there for my boys).
Plus, our old nemesis, cinnamon in a savory meal, was back! Check out the recipe for Pastitso if you missed my boys losing their minds over that one. This time I cut the cinnamon down to a couple pinches and kept mum on the matter until after the kids had eaten.
Though everyone ate their share without complaint, I have to admit that this one was merely ok. Like I mentioned earlier, the spice profile was just a little different for us. But if you’re looking to stretch yourself – definitely give this a try!
Adapted slightly from Zahav:A World of Israeli Cooking by Michael Solomonov
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground chicken
½ cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Salt & pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ onion, diced (about ½ cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
Salt & pepper, to taste
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions, celery, and garlic, and cook until tender. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Place the cooled onion mixture, ground chicken, almonds (I pulsed mine in a food processor to a coarse crumb, because I have picky eaters), smoked paprika, cinnamon, salt, and pepper in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Form the chicken mixture into equal sized meatballs and place int eh hot skillet. Cook until browned, then flip and continue cooking.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until tender. Add the tomato sauce and stir in seasonings.
Once the meatballs are browned, add them to the sauce, continue cooking until the sauce is thick and the meatballs are fully cooked through.
Serve over rice topped with additional almonds.
Check out all the wonderful Israeli dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld.
Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!
Camilla, Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Limonana
Sue at Palatable Pastime:Lemony Roasted Garlic Hummus with Herb Toasted Pita
Juli at Pandemonium Noshery: Grilled Chicken Shawarma
April, Home Sweet Homestead: Israeli Yellow Rice
Margaret at Kitchen Frau: Israeli Watermelon, Cucumber & Feta Salad
Loreto and Nicoletta, Sugarlovespices: Zaatar Roasted Carrots with Labneh
A Day in the Life on the Farm: Date Glazed Beef Kebabs
Evelyne: Burnt Eggplant Salad Green Tahini Dressing