Israel may be known as the land of milk and honey, but when it comes to her culinary offerings, there's far more to explore. Thanks to the popularity of global cuisines, the traditional pantry ingredients featured here can be found in most natural foods stores, specialty food shops, Middle Eastern food markets, and online.
Israel may be known as the land of milk and honey, but when it comes to her culinary offerings, there's far more to explore. At Eucalyptus Restaurant in Jerusalem, the menu is built around historical dietary staples in Israel, including the biblical "Seven Spices": wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olive oil, and dates. Thanks to the popularity of global cuisines, the traditional pantry ingredients featured here can be found in most natural foods stores, specialty food shops, Middle Eastern food markets, and online.
Baharat This seasoning, used like salt, is a mix of sweet and savory spices, including cinnamon, black pepper, coriander, cardamom, paprika, and cloves.
Cardamom This costly spice is the dried fruit of the herb (Elettaria cardamomum). True cardamom is green or white and imparts a savory sweetness to dessert dishes. In Arab countries, it’s used to flavor coffee.
Cumin seeds Found in ancient Egyptian archaeological sites and credited with possessing amazing curative powers, cumin seeds add a distinctive perfume and spice to meat and grain dishes.
Fenugreek seeds The dried seeds of this plant (related to clover) give off a scent reminiscent of celery. It’s used to flavor sauces, fish, and rice dishes.
Hyssop An aromatic herb similar to oregano, hyssop grows wild on Israel’s hillsides and is one of the indispensable ingredients in za’atar (see below) cooking blends.
Mallow Growing wild throughout Israel beside roads and on hillsides from February to April, wild mallow leaves are used in salads, stews, casseroles, and omelets. Similar in shape to grape leaves, they can also be stuffed with rice, meat, or savory fillings.
Spearmint An essential ingredient in many teas and tisanes served throughout Israel, it’s most flavorful when freshly picked and is a common ingredient in meat dishes and fruity desserts.
Ras-el hanout An important flavoring in many Arabic dishes, the exact blend varies from region to region, but most always contains a mix of turmeric, cinnamon, mace, black pepper, allspice, saffron, cardamom, nutmeg, and ginger.
Saffron Believed to be one of the oldest cultivated spices, saffron carries a high price tag thanks to the labor-intensive collection and production process. It’s used in a variety of recipes, including soups, stews, and rice dishes.
Sumac Often used in place of lemons as a seasoning, sumac powder is deep burgundy and can be sprinkled over rice, chicken, fish, or any dish that would benefit from a splash of lemon juice.
Tamarind The pulp of this tree fruit is commonly used as a jamlike paste in drinks, savory dishes, and desserts.
Tahini The familiar flavoring in hummus, tahini is sesame-seed butter, typically with the same consistency and spreadability as nut butters.
Za’atar Mixed with olive oil and spread on bread or vegetables, this blend usually consists of a base of ground sesame seeds and sumac, with a variety of herbs, including thyme and hyssop. The exact recipe differs from region to region or from one household to another.
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