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.