Whoever has been to Israel before will agree with me that it is a place with many different traditions and religions. It is a crossroad of cultures. During my visit to Jerusalem, I was so stunned by hearing so many languages, seeing so many different religious and cultural attributes, and how all of it coexists. Of course, a big plus of cultural mixing is that every part has something special to offer. You can notice this in every aspect of life, especially in food. Yes, that is right. After travelling for a while I realized that food (traditional dishes) is a big part of the culture and you simply cannot skip this part if you want to experience the country. While there are many different foods on “has” to try, the best breakfast in Israel is Shakshuka.
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This dish is one of my favorite things to eat, and we probably had it for at least half of our breakfasts during our few weeks in Israel. It is a dish made of eggs poached in tomato sauce with onion and garlic and usually with spices like cumin, paprika, and nutmeg. Shakshuka is breakfast dish and although it is quite simple, Shakshuka has a long history.
Shakshuka has existed for many centuries. Of course, it wasn’t always the shakshuka we know now. There are many versions of where the dish came from. If we don’t go too deep into the history, the whole Mediterranean had different verities of the dish. For example the Ottoman Empire had a dish şakşuka, although this dish was more like a vegetable stew with meat or liver. And of course, tomatoes were added to the dish much later (tomatoes originated in Central and South America).
Jewish people in Tunisia had created their version of shakshuka by adding eggs to the vegetable spicy stew. So, the shakshuka as we know was brought to Israel by Jewish people from Tunisia. And since it was a big population of them, the dish got very popular in the country.
Can you see now what I was talking about? The evolution of just one dish can tell you the story of a few continents and nationalities. Fascinating, isn’t it?
Of course, I decided to write this article not just because shakshuka is an interesting dish, but also because shakshuka is a delicious breakfast meal (especially with soft fresh bread that you can dip into tomato sauce) and while you are in Israel you just must try it!
Falafel: Fried balls of mashed chickpeas with spices.
Hummus: Pureed chickpeas with tahini and olive oil.
Tahini: Sesame seed paste.
Challah Bread: Braided egg bread, usually served on holidays.
Stuffed Vine Leaves: Self explanatory.
Baba Ghanoush: A dip made of mashed eggplant and spices.