Mumbai Food: A masterclass on Israel's diverse cuisine

Updated: Dec 07, 2016, 15:25 IST | Krutika Behrawala |

A popular Israeli chef comes to town to show you how to make native hot sauce, tabbouleh and hummus the authentic way

Skhug Yarok
Skhug Yarok

You may be familiar with sriracha and Tabasco but have you tried skhug, a Middle Eastern hot sauce popular at falafel and shawarma stands in Israel? “People think that in Israel, we eat Kosher food without pork, meat or dairy products. That’s a misconception. Israelis love spicy fare. There are at least 10 super-hot Israeli sauces that we add to almost every dish,” says popular Israeli chef Gil Hovav, who comes to town next week to host a masterclass on the best Israeli fare to make at home.

Gil Hovav

As Israel’s leading culinary journalist, chef and TV personality, the 54-year-old has been credited for popularising the native cuisine with cookbooks and shows like Pepper, Garlic And Olive Oil and Going To The Market. “Our cuisine is Eastern Mediterranean with a mix of Arab, South European and Turkish flavours, but they are bolder and sharper. Israel is a mix of 70 ethnicities, and all the flavours exist in a happy mélange,” he says, adding that the staple ingredients include olive oil, fresh vegetables and locally grown fruits, chilli peppers, date honey, tahini, local wines, and goat and sheep milk cheeses. While Indian and Israeli cuisines use fresh produce in generous amounts, the latter is high on meat, olive oil, less spicy, and the desserts are only dairy-based dishes.

In the two-hour session, Hovav will teach you to make skhug, tabbouleh (a bulgur wheat-laced vegetarian salad), and the widely popular hummus (chickpea spread). “Hummus is [considered to be] our national dish. It is an Arab dish but Israelis are madly in love with it and cannot live without it. What’s part of its charm is that the taste is the same all over the Middle East,” says the chef, whose favourite Israeli eats include Kubaneh (traditional Yemenite bread) and Hamin (Shabbat stew).

ON: December 5, 5 pm to 7 pm
AT:  Foodhall, Palladium Mall, SB Marg, Lower Parel.
CALL : 30264581


Trace the origins
Introduced to Israel by Yemenite Jews, the Middle Eastern hot sauce is now a staple condiment in the country’s cuisine. Based on the types of peppers used in its preparation, the varieties include Skhug Adom (red peppers) and Skhug Yarok (green peppers). The sauce is seasoned with coriander, garlic, salt, black cumin, black pepper, cardamom pods and a dash of ground cloves.

Tabbouleh: One of the most popular salads in the Middle East, tabbouleh originated in the mountains of Syria and Lebanon since the wheat variety, salamouni, cultivated in those regions was well suited for making bulgur, which is its basic ingredient. Apparently, Baghdadi women and cooks initially mocked tabbouleh and other vegetable-based mezze dishes because they felt it was a means to scrimp on the use of meat.

Filmmaker oren rosenfeld 
Filmmaker Oren Rosenfeld 

Documentary on hummus
Israeli filmmaker Oren Rosenfeld has directed Hummus!The Movie, a 70-minute documentary that showcases stories of men and women who love their chickpea spread. It follows Olivier, a French Benedictine Monk, on his search for the ultimate, tastiest hummus. It also features Aluf Abir, a Hip-Hop musician, who presents wacky views on the geopolitical power of chickpeas. “Over the years, hummus has transformed from being a Middle Eastern side dish to the main one. In Israel, there are restaurants that only sell hummus and shut shop when the stock is over,” says Rosenfeld. Produced this year, the film is currently doing the rounds of the festival circuit. It will be screened at the Pune International Film Festival in January after which it will be available on Netflix.


The heir to a family hummus restaurant founded in 1948, Israeli restaurateur Jalil Dabit is also part of the documentary

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