In July 2013, Israel’s first-ever food truck rolled its way through Jerusalem, stopping at a different neighborhood every day. At each location, a local celebrity accompanied famed chef Assaf Granit in serving up to the public a signature dish, a recipe (tweaked slightly by Granit) that represented the local celebrity’s personal connection to the Holy City. Those of us who were fortunate to experience FoodTrip first hand won’t forget it soon.
Although FoodTrip has been over for almost a year, and there are no current plans to revive it, a newly published, beautifully designed “FoodTrip: Tasting Jerusalem” cookbook enables those who experienced the unique phenomenon to relive it, and those who missed it to almost feel as if they had actually been there.
Anyone who came out to see the whimsically decorated truck and taste the fare knew immediately that it was equally as much—if not more— about the food as it was about the people and the place. Of course, the food was delicious and creatively presented, but more importantly, it served as a vehicle for local residents (and in-the-know tourists) to come together, swap stories, sing, dance and celebrate a unique city.
1 flat teaspoon of ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon of ground cardamom
1 tablespoon of dried marjoram
½ teaspoon cumin
4 clean boneless chicken thighs
2 carrots peeled and cut into small cubes
2 onions cut into small cubes
2 finely-chopped garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups freekeh (smoked green wheat) or wheat
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons raisins
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1 cup water
2 handfuls of freshly chopped parsley
2 handfuls of roasted and chopped pine nuts
Prepare the spice mix
1) To make the freekeh, heat a pan with a little oil. When the oil is hot add the onion cubes and carrot and fry until the onion is translucent—about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for another minute.
2) Add the freekeh and mix well making sure that all of the grain is covered with oil. Add the raisins and about 2/3 of the spice mixture and mix again.
3) Pour in the water and ¾ of the stock. Bring to the boil, cover the pan and cook on a low light for about 30 minutes. Stir intermittently and if needed, adjust the seasoning.
4) To make the chicken, place the chicken in a bowl and rub the seasoning, salt, pepper and the remaining spice mix, into the chicken.
5) Heat a heavy pot on a high light. Pour in a little olive oil and fry the chicken, a few minutes on each side. Add the remaining chicken stock and cook until the liquid is reduced and absorbed into the chicken.
6) Pour the freekeh onto plates, place the chicken on top and garnish with chopped parsley and roasted pine nuts.
About Chef Kamal Hashelmon: Formerly the Head Chef for the St. George Landmark Hotel’s Turquoise Restaurant in East Jerusalem, Hashelmon is a Palestinian chef who specializes in Lebanese cuisine with a twist. His culinary training spanned the Middle East where he studied and worked in a number of different countries including, Beirut, Amman and Cairo, and a four-year term in one of Israel’s top restaurants, “Mul-Yam.”
Recipe and photo: Courtesy of Jerusalem Season of Culture. Photographer: Yael Ilan
Food trucks seem to be ubiquitous these days — but not in Jerusalem. Until last week, a food truck had never rolled into the Holy City or into any city in Israel. But on July 17 a truck with a giant steaming pot sculpture on top and a chalkboard menu on its side, pulled opened its doors to feed hundreds of Jerusalemites.
Part public art and part performance the “AutoOchel” (food vehicle), which is captained by local celebrity chef Assaf Granit, is about much more than just food. For 25 days this summer (July 17-August 12), the truck will stop in a different neighborhood and serve a different dish each day. The locations and dishes are closely matched, and reflect the personal connections that 25 well-known local personalities have to the city. Each day, one of these participating celebrities will ride along with Granit and help him prepare and serve their special dish to the public.
The “AutoOchel” was conceived as a major event in the third annual Jerusalem Season of Culture, a summer showcase of Jerusalem’s flourishing arts scene and contemporary cultural treasures. Granit cooked up the idea with JSOC artistic director Itay Mautner. The two worked together closely on every aspect of this carefully choreographed “FoodTrip,” (as JSOC has translated “AutoOchel.”)