in the old city of jerusalem

I love the street foods of Israel. With a multitude of accessible small shops, kiosks and bakeries that deliver savory along with sweet delights, there’s always something within reach for a bite or drink on the go. Ripe fruit can be squeezed on the spot and turned into a cup of fresh juice. For something more filling, flaky pastries such as burekas, or sambusak, a calazone-like turnover filled with either cheese, sautéed vegetables or minced meat fillings is a quick fix. There’s of course toast which is actually a panini, or Israel’s version of grilled cheese, a variety of flatbreads to choose from including a favorite which is covered with a blend of herbs known as za’atar, and of course there’s falafel. The list goes on and it provides an endless menu of tasty foods to find on the run.

Slowing down for a moment to stroll through the Old City of Jerusalem, in the winter you’ll be delighted to find sahlab. The hot creamy drink is available throughout Israel (and the Levant in fact) though not always easy to spot. Sahlab, also written as sakhleb, salep, or saalab is essentially made from “dried tubers of various Old World orchids”. The orchid roots are ground into a flour or powder that’s high in starch, and when combined with milk creates a pudding like drink that’s a treat especially in cold weather. It’s topped with shredded coconut, toasted pistachio pieces and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Here the sahlab is kept warm in a beautiful ornamental metal jug and the toppings are stored in decorative wooden boxes.


Sesame bagels, referred to as “bagaleh” in Hebrew is another popular street food that can be found year round. Though called a bagel, the dough is quite different than your typical New York New Jersey variety. Eaten as is these can be covered with sesame or za’atar. If you’re curious for a bite (or miss these from back home) here’s a recipe and guide on how to prepare: Jerusalem Bagles

Mild weather the day of my stroll through the City of David; warm with blue skies and a bright sun that illuminated the limestone, and as it set turned the city to gold. Walking through Jerusalem you’ll find not only a tasty bite to enjoy, but a feast for the eyes and nourishment for the soul.

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4 Responses to in the old city of jerusalem

  1. Beth (OMG! Yummy) December 30, 2012 at 4:42 am #

    Wow – #tastingJrslm in person – what a great post. I am going to save this to share with the #tastingJrslm group and I hope you will continue to share your first-hand Israeli culinary experiences. So fascinating Orly!

  2. yumivore December 30, 2012 at 5:31 am #

    So glad you enjoyed the post, and would be delighted to have you share it with the #TastingJrslm group! Always happy to connect and share culinary adventures. I hope to post the recipe for Sahlab (noted in the post) soon. Honored to join #TastingJrslm and thank you for thinking of me!

  3. Andy January 11, 2013 at 2:50 am #

    Such a nice post Orly! I like the warm tones in the photos as much as the warmth of your narration!

  4. yumivore January 11, 2013 at 4:24 am #

    Thank you Andy for the note, enjoying the pictures and the narration! It was an unusually hot day when the photos were taken, unlike now. A huge winter storm (of biblical proportion I might add) hit Israel this week and much of it is covered in snow! (The sahlab would be great there right now).