Israeli Seasonal Cooking
Orange trees line the streets of many of Israel's city hubs but particularly in Tel Aviv-Yafo, the “jaffa” orange in particular can be seen as a symbol of all things seasonality in the incredibly diverse cuisine of Israel.
For a modern cook, seasonality can be a pain point or cause of frustration, as we are so used to having our shelves stocked with all types of ingredients all year round.
However, in Israel, chefs view the seasonal ingredients as a sailor would view a gust of wind - we don’t sail into it, we just enjoy the direction we are taken in.
Israel has a focus on its produce, ensuring they are eaten in season, it not only means the ingredients you are cooking with taste better (and how they should) but it is also better for the environment. As we now look into the seasons with more detail and the produce that is grown we will see what Israelis are often waiting for with baited breath.
Autumn is a time of year in Israel, which is filled with holidays and celebrations as well as a change in the weather that sees cooler temperatures hit the shores of Tel aviv. The first olive oil begins to be pressed and frozen snacks are swapped for hearty casseroles.
In the fall harvest we begin to see a variety of fruits ready to pick such as, dates, pomegranates, mangoes and grapefruits. Autumn’s vegetables are perfect for warming dishes - squashes and root vegetables begin to take shape along with aubergines and mushrooms. Israelis at this time of year enjoy butternut squash, corn, sweet potato, cabbages and leeks.
- Krupnik - A Jewish polish stew.
- Ktzitzot - Bread and Meat patties.
- Guvetch - Bulgarian stew of tomatoes and vegetables.
As some farmers begin to pluck the dates and fruits from their trees or pull the squashes from the ground, other farmers are getting ready for the rain to come along with winter. This signifies the beginning of the planting season with lettuces, carrots and cauliflower placed into the ground.
As the cold winter really takes hold of the country, and the stone buildings of Jerusalem suffer from the lack of insulation, the chefs cookbooks turn to warming soups and slow cooked stews.
From the hearty root vegetables that grow in autumn the kitchen pantries in Israel during winter become more reliant on ambient ingredients, such as ground spices and dried pulses. Chefs and cooks alike will also make use of any preserved ingredients from earlier in the year and also all year round ingredients such as flour to make cakes and sweet treats.
- Cholent - a Jewish stew cooked for 12 hours.
- Sour soups - Broths made with lots of acidulation.
- Bundt - A round orange cake.
Winter brings in many dishes that people who aren’t “in the know”, would think of being typically levantine. The dishes are warming and hearty, often made with chickpeas and other pulses alike, they feature warming broths and hearty vegetables. Next, on the seasonality charts is spring.