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What is Jerusalem-Style Food? An Ingredients Glossary To Help You Experience Israeli Food in Singapore at Wild Honey this November

New Israeli food is one of the hottest food trends to emerge on the global food scene in the last five or so years finding excitement and popularity in NYC, LA and London.

Andrew Bender of Forbes Magazine predicted that Israeli Cuisine would sweep the globe in 2017/18 and we think he got it right. For over 8 years, our Tunisian brunch has been the number 1 ordered brunch at Wild Honey and it is this traditional dish and our genuine love of foods and spices from that region that inspired us to bring A Taste of Jerusalem to Singapore.

Israeli food today encompasses the traditions of over a hundred cultures living in and around Israel and those brought from the diaspora to Israel. These cuisines and foods come from countries as disparate as Bulgaria, Romania, North Africa, Yemen, Ethiopia, Georgia, the Balkans, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, and Turkey.

Photo credit: The Palomar London & Yossi Elad – https://www.instagram.com/palomarsoho/

There’s no real such dish as an Israeli dish as the food really does come from all over and is influenced heavily by cross-pollination.

When it comes to Jerusalem it is impossible to count the number of cultures and subcultures living in the city. Jerusalem has always been a veritable mosaic of different peoples, cultures, religions & heritages. Food here is a mish-mash of traditional dishes as well as exciting contemporary takes on what have been staple foods often for centuries. The food is ripe for rediscovery and reinvention given the wonderful produce an abundance of spices and the sheer love of food.

Jerusalemites tend to eat seasonally and cook with what grows in the area. Vegetarian food features heavily as the area is abundant in produce ranging from – tomatoes, okra, cauliflower, artichokes, beets, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, zucchini and are often at the centre of the food eaten here. Not to mention the gorgeous fruits kissed by the Mediterranean sun – figs, lemons, peaches, pears, strawberries, pomegranates, apricots, plums – a plethora of herbs & spices; nuts, dairy, grains and brans, lamb, beef and chicken.

Ingredients & Condiments – Staples of Israeli Cuisine & Features of A Taste of Jerusalem Kitchen Takeover Menu

Photo credit: Recipe Geek – http://recipegeek.com/food-talk/pantry-files/5-ancient-grains-you-should-be-eating-now

AMBAH – Savoury mango pickle which reflects an Indian influence into middle eastern food. Yossi likes to mix this with yogurt for a versatile dip or spread or sauce.

BULGUR WHEAT – Bulgur is wheat that has been pre cooked then dried and cracked and became popular in the Middle East due to the Ottoman Empire. Comes in different particle sizes – coarse, fine and extra fine depending on the usage.

 

“I discovered smoked bulgur just a few years ago, it was introduced to me by my Palestinian friends and chefs. The wheat in the north of Israel is picked at the end of the winter while it is still green, and the Bedouins are drying the wheat on an open fire, so it gets a nice smoky taste and it adds a lot of character to the food.” Yossi Elad

 

BABAGANOUSH – Baba ghanoush is a Levantine or Greater Syria dish of mashed cooked eggplant mixed with tahini, olive oil, and various seasonings. The traditional preparation method is for the eggplant to be baked or broiled over an open flame so the skin becomes burnt or charred before peeling, so that the pulp is soft and has a wonderful smoky flavour.

 

Image credit: @emma_lately – https://www.instagram.com/emma_lately/

CURED LEMONS – There is a difference between cured lemons and preserved lemons – cured lemons are cured in salt and olive oil versus brine. They can be added to salads, sandwiches, stews etc. Chef Yossi cures his own lemons and then makes a cured lemon paste from these and it has an amazing flavour on its own or when mixed with sweet paprika, chilli flakes and cumin seeds. To Papi (Yossi) the curing process is a religious ritual – when the kitchen is in a frenzy for Papi there is only the chopping board, a knife & lemons.

 

“I could not imagine my life my cooking my being without a bit of a lemony sour taste, for me cured lemon is the essence of the middle eastern cooking. “Give me a slice of cured lemon and I feel like I got the sweetest candy in the world” Yossi Elad

 

DATE SYRUP – SILAN – Date honey, also known as date molasses, has a natural sweetness and loose texture. Good for desserts and as a substitute for honey and can also be used in salad dressings & savoury dishes.

HALVA – Dense, sweet confections with roots in the Middle East, Central Asia, and India. The first known written halva recipe appeared in the early 13th century Arabic Kitab al-Tabikh [The Book of Dishes]. Halva can be made with many different ingredients but we are most interested in the nut and seed based halva’s made from Tahini. For a new take on an Israeli Dessert, we will be using sesame seed/ tahini based halva in the Halva and Tahini Brownie on the dessert menu for A Taste of Jerusalem.

 

Photo credit: The Palomar London & Yossi Elad – https://www.instagram.com/palomarsoho/

LABNE – Labne(h) is an Arab sour cheese or spread made by straining full-fat yoghurt in a muslin bag for two days until all the liquid has been removed and the cheese is dry but spreadable. It is one of Yossi’s most versatile and indispensable ingredients and will feature in several dishes on the Taste Of Jerusalem menu including our own Persian French Toast made especially for the occasion.

 

“You take yogurt and add to it a bit of salt and some lemon juice you place it in a cheesecloth, you hang it over a bowl for the night and you get one of the best spreads you tasted. How can I not use it as a most important ingredient in my kitchen? Easy to make easy to add to it your own spices, it makes me happy and it makes my beloved ones happy too.” Yossi Elad

 

Photo credit: The Palomar London & Yossi Elad – https://www.instagram.com/palomarsoho/

HARISSA – Red, flavourful, spicy dried red pepper paste is a key ingredient in North African cooking. It features in the Wild Honey signature brunch, Flinders Lane, and is made from dried red chillies & garlic. This can be fire engine hot depending on the number & type of chillies used.

 

“[Harissa] adds a bit of life to your life” Yossi Elad

 

HUMMUS – Hummus is a Levantine dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas or other beans, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. It is popular in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, as well as in Middle Eastern cuisine around the globe. It is one of the most widely recognised and eaten Middle Eastern dishes anywhere and is usually eaten with warm, fish pita bread.

KATAIFI – a fine, vermicelli (noodle) pastry used to make Middle Eastern desserts. For A Taste of Jerusalem we have used this as an accent to the Malabi dessert. We have mixed it with butter and spices and baked till crispy & it makes for an addictive moreish snack.

LAFA BREAD – Lafah/Lafa (Arabic: لفة) is a Middle Eastern flatbread. In Israel, it is also called láfa or Iraqi pita. It is used as a wrap in many cuisines & is cooked in a special oven called a Tabun and eaten with different fillings. Lafa bread is street food – stuffed with hummus, falafel or shaved meat. During A Taste of Jerusalem, we are serving it with the Shakshuka and the Musakhan.

PITA BREAD – sometimes spelt pitta – a yeast-leavened round flatbread baked from wheat flour, sometimes with a pocket. Pita can be used to scoop sauces or dips, such as hummus, or to wrap kebabs or falafel in the manner of sandwiches. It can also be cut and baked into crispy pita chips. It is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine and is widely used and loved in Israel and used with hummus, baba ganoush, labne and other dips and mezze.

 

Photo credit: Cole Saladino: https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/israeli-food-americans#

POMEGRANATE MOLASSES – A thick, dark, rich, sour and tangy liquid is a mainstay in Persian culture. A reduction of pomegranate juice so the flavour is highly concentrated and powerful. Can be used in savoury or sweet dishes. For A Taste of Jerusalem Menu, the date & pomegranate syrup is used for the chicken livers.

ORANGE BLOSSOM WATER – Maa Zaher in Arabic, this is a highly flavourful flower essence with a refreshing citrusy scent. Genuine orange blossom water is alcohol-free and his used mostly in Moroccan or Algerian desserts. For A Taste of Jerusalem, it features in our fresh mint tea & the Persian french toast which is scented with orange blossom & saffron syrup.

TAHINI – The king of pastes and the ultra ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking, Tahini is made from sesame seeds. The quality of the tahini is based on whether the sesame seeds are unhulled or hulled, toasted for untoasted and the method used to grind them eg. stoneground. It is extremely versatile and can be used in many dishes from savoury to sweet such as hummus & even ice cream. For A Taste of Jerusalem, it features in the signature tahini & halva brownie.

 

“Tahini is kind of the Queen of the middle eastern cuisine – I cannot imagine the Israeli kitchen without it, it can accompany almost any dish sweet or savoury.” Yossi Elad

 

ROSEWATER – Essence of water flavoured with rose petals and used frequently in Moroccan, Middle Eastern & Pakistani cooking. For A Taste of Jerusalem try it in our special Malabi pudding.

SABZI – A Persian term that literally means greens or greens coming from vegetables and herbs. In the A Taste of Jerusalem menu it features with Bulgar wheat on the Mediterranean dish

ZHOUG/ SCHUG – Jewish Yemeni Green Chilli paste made from green and red chillies, coriander, garlic. At Wild Honey we use this on our signature Flinders Lane brunch. We also take a bit of licence & add mint to our version giving it a unique & signature flavour.

 

Photo credit: The Palomar London & Yossi Elad – https://www.instagram.com/palomarsoho/

SUMAC – Made from the red buds of a bush that grows in subtropical and temperate regions, sumac has a tangy sour taste. It is widely used in Middle Eastern cooking & is a particular favourite of Chef Yossi. Try the sumac’s onions in the Musakhan.

 

“Sumac was used in ancient times by tanners to soften the lather, it has a lemony taste and a dark red colour. One day a cook passed next to a tanner while he was softening lather and he (the cook) by mistake tasted the sumac, it tasted good, so he tried it with one of his dishes ….” Yossi Elad

 

RAS AL HANOUT – This name literally means ‘top of the shop’ – this North African spice mix is the best a spice shop owner has to offer. The recipe is usually a secret but can contain up to 17 different spices and varies depending on the meat to be used and by which shop has made it. It will usually contain some of the following spices – cumin, sweet paprika, coriander seeds, cinnamon, peppercorns, cloves.

For A Taste of Jerusalem you can try the Ras Al Hanout ice cream we have made especially for the event to pair with the halva and tahini brownie.

ZA’ATAR – Is a dried leafy herb from the oregano family and is used both fresh and dried. It is one of the ingredients of the Za’atar spice mix which usually also contains sesame seeds, thyme & sumac. At Wild Honey we use za’atar on our signature Flinders Lane brunch & during the food event you can try the za’atar pita bread with dips.

BAHARAT – Literally translates as spices & is a spice mix from the Arabic kitchen. Every region has its own version but likely to contain a mix of sweet paprika, peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander seeds, allspice berries, cloves, nutmeg. Can be used for all sorts of meats and fish. Yossi will be bringing his own blend on his trip to Singapore.

 

View the full menu here: A Taste of Jerusalem Event Menu

Full Event Information: Wild Honey A Taste of Jerusalem

Reservations can be made directly with Chope:

 

Event Partners:

Main image credit to The Palomar London & Yossi Elad

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