A QUICK Delicious Dictionary of Israeli Cuisine

Israeli cuisine is a culmination of traditional foods from surrounding countries and areas. 

Being a “melting pot,” Israel has adopted foods that have arrived from many immigrants, 

such as from Yemen, North Africa, Turkey, and Iraq, among many others. Here are some 

traditional “Israeli” dishes that you can find while exploring the delicious country of Israel. 

  • Sabich- a street food made of fried eggplant, hard boiled egg, tahina, and vegetables served 
  • Pita- a slightly leavened bread used as a sandwich in many dishes of Israeli cuisine. Most often served with falafel and tehina inside of the pocket
  • Hummus- dip made out of pureed chick peas and tahina
  • Falafel- a Middle Eastern dish made of deep tried chickpea balls
  • Schwarma- grilled lamb or meat that is often “shaved” and served in a pita
  • “Israeli Breakfast”- typically includes fresh juice, coffee or tea, eggs, Israeli salad, cheese, freshly baked bread, jam, and butter
  • Shakshuka- a traditional Israeli breakfast, stemming from North African cuisine. A breakfast staple made up of poached eggs smothered in a tomato sauce with sautéed onions
  • Bureka- small Turkish pastry filled with cheese, spinach, eggplant, vegetables, or meat
  • Schnitzel- fried chicken cutlets 
  • Haloumi- a cheese made from a mixture of goat and sheep’s milk, producing a soft cheese that can be fried or grilled
  • Labane- a thick yogurt-based cheese typical in Israeli breakfasts 
  • Tzfatit- a semi-hard cheese made from sheep’s milk. First produced in Tzfat by Meiri dairy 
  • Knafeh- a dessert made of shredded pastry, soft cheese and a sweet syrup
  • Babka- a dessert made from double and twisted dough which often contains a cinnamon or chocolate filling topped with streusel
  • Halva- made out of sesame flavored tahini, halvah comes in many different flavors including chocolate, nut, coffee, and hundreds more
  • Rugelach- a Jewish pastry made with cream cheese dough rolled around chocolate, jam, or cinnamon

Spices and Condiments:

  • Za’tar- a spice mixture that is popular in the Middle East, served usually on meats, vegetables, hummus, or pita
  • Sumac- a reddish spice used in Middle Eastern cuisine to add a lemony taste to salads or meat. Commonly used in Israeli salad and sauteed onions
  • Doa/Dukka/Duqqa- an Egyptian spice mixture made of salt, coriander, peanuts, chickpeas, mint leaves, and sesame seeds 
  • Tahina- prepared sauce of ground sesame seeds (tahini), lemon, and garlic. Tahina is often eaten with falafel and pita 

Snacks and Drinks:

  • Bamba- a peanut butter-flavored puffed maize. Bamba also comes in other flavors as well
  • Lemonana- a drink made up of lemonade and mint that is often served frozen or blended 
  • Hafuch Coffee- literally means “upside-down” which consists of frothed milk on the bottom and espresso coffee on top. This is a cross between a cappuccino and a café latte
  • Gazoz- comes from the word “sparkling water.” Gazoz can come in many different flavors including a combination of various fruits, spices, vegetables, and herbs
  • Arak- a traditional alcoholic beverage in the Middle East made from anise
  • Sahlab- a hot Turkish drink based on milk and wild orchid powder