In college, Mondays meant falafel. It started when Soom Soom, an amazing Kosher eatery on 72nd St., had falafel happy hour. Two sandwiches for the price of one. My fellow students and I would pair up and walk over for dinner. We’d cram into the tiny joint, bask in half-price falafel yumminess, and enjoy the break from school.
When I graduated and moved out to Brooklyn, I lived within a mile of enough falafel places to keep me on my toes for months: an Israeli bar and restaurant, a gourmet falafel place with delicious doughy pita, and a bright green falafel truck parked right in front of my brownstone whose smells seeped into my living room (in the best way possible), to name a few. I loved them all and always looked forward to Monday dinners.
Living on the farm, I miss my many falafel places. But, since moving away from New York, I have loved making my own. With its basic ingredients being items that I always have on hand (garbanzo beans and various spices) that can be paired with whatever fresh herbs or green leafy vegetables I have at the moment, a homemade falafel is never out of reach. Served with a salad or rice and tahini sauce, it makes for a trusty and tasty meal.
New York City gets its first kosher sports bar! Which team will you root for at the new spot? [Eater]
Don’t get us wrong, we love a good bagel and shmear. But, sometimes, life just calls for bialys. Try making some with the help of this easy tutorial. [The Kitchn]
Throw a falafel party! Here’s a step-by-step guide. [Food 52]
Who invented the Reuben sandwich? [New York Times]
If you’re stuck at home today, try making your own challah. Here’s a simple recipe. [The Daily Meal]
Are you a latke expert? Ready to throw down in a huge latke competition? Enter your recipe here. [Edible Manhattan]
Deb Perlman’s mushroom bourguinon, a perfect fall, vegetarian, Shabbat dish. [Food 52]
Try an Egyptian twist on falafel — made with fava beans. [Saveur]
A taste of the American South comes to Tel Aviv. [Tablet]
A falafel, is not a falafel, is not a falafel. Each country in the Middle East has their own way of making falafel. [NPR]
Beautiful preserved lemons are a staple flavor of many north African and Sephardic cuisines. Try your hand at making them at home. [Saveur]
Should you try your hand at making your own peanut (and other nut) butters? [Serious Eats]
Desserts to Love: Knafe. The deliciously sweet pastry is available in the Holy Land if you’re willing to go looking for it. [Serious Eats]
After careful planning and preparation, a team comes together for the ultimate test of their skills. Judges are watching, reputations are on the line, and the heat is palpable. A record is about to be broken — but not in London. Last Saturday, 10 Jordanian chefs achieved gastronomic glory when they fried up the world’s largest falafel.
The champion chickpea fritter weighed in just shy of 165 pounds, over three times as heavy as the previous title-holder. The recipe was scaled-up, too: 176 pounds of chickpeas, 11 pounds of onions, and over four pounds of parsley were mixed by hand before a 25-minute dunk in 92 gallons of vegetable oil. After being carefully inspected and certified “ginormous” by Guinness Book of World Records officials, the colossal falafel became a feast for 600 gathered at the Landmark Hotel in Amman, Jordan.
What to Order: Sabich, hummus and pita chips
Unlike many on this list, Da Falafel King morphed not from a brick-and-mortar location to a truck, but from a food cart within the Waikiki Trade Center Plaza to a bright blue minibus. Yanir Josef and his wife run the hulking vehicle, delighting the natives with some of his Israeli cuisine. The offerings include a sabich sandwich, chicken and lamb kebabs, as well as just-fatty-enough shawarma and, of course, falafel. Locals swing by the truck after a movie to grab fried pita chips and hummus or fries sprinkled with paprika and salt.
Check out our round up of Jewish and Kosher food trucks from around North America.
What to Order: Falafel with Fixings, Baklava
Former Israeli Air Force technician Shmuel Haviv keeps the menu at Moses Falafel simple: He serves soft and chewy pita filled with crispy falafel, drizzled with hot sauce and topped with hummus, cucumber salad and pickles. Haviv parks his falafel trailer on the Jewish Community Center’s campus in the afternoons, providing a lunch option for students that’s kosher, vegan, and even — sans pita — gluten-free. For that good old American post-sandwich sugar craving, Haviv also keeps a tray of flakey, gooey baklava at the ready.
Check out our round up of Jewish and Kosher food trucks from around North America.
New York, N.Y.
What to Order: Falafel Sandwich with all the fixings
Husband and wife team Einat Admony and Stefan Nafziger named their tiny West Village falafel stand Taim after the Hebrew word for “delicious,” and it’s hard to argue with them. The Taim stand turned into a roving falafel joint on wheels, doling out perfectly spiced chickpea concoctions in rotating flavors to hordes of hungry New Yorkers. Diners rave that the falafel is perfectly toothsome — not greasy or dry — and sublime in a fluffy pita topped with pickled cabbage, Israeli salad and s’chug, a traditional Yemeni hot sauce. Pair it with one of their intriguing smoothies — date-lime-banana or pear-mint-lemon — and it’s a veritable lunchtime feast.
Growing up in Israel during the 1980’s, falafel was king. Twice a week I traveled from my Kibbutz to the city of Petah Tikva, for an intense ballet class. To the naked eye I seemed like any other disciplined ballerina, but actually my mind was filled with sinful thoughts of the tahini dripping falafel sandwich that awaited me at the end of the pirouette session.
Then came the dilemma: a falafel sandwich with fries and all you can eat salads at Mordechai’s, or the classic fix at Chatukka, “The most Yemenite falafel in town” (that was, and it still is, their bizarre tagline). At both places, while standing on line, you’d get a crunchy green ball from the server to eat with your hands. That’s how they whet your appetite and welcome you, Israeli style.
Since the days of those post-ballet snacks, falafel has sadly lost is crown as the national dish of Israel. Every Israeli still holds a firm opinion on “where one can get the best falafel,” but chances are that you’ll hear more passionate and emotional arguments about the best hummusiahs (cafes which specialize in the chickpea dip) these days.
Montreal-style deli Mile End’s smoked meat may be coming to your grocery store. Owner Noah Bernamoff dishes on his plans for packaging his meat in an Nona Brooklyn interview.
Is Spike Mendelsohn’s new deli truck Sixth & Rye kosher? That depends upon who you ask. The Washington Post takes a look.
Kosher meat imported to Israel, may actually be Halal meat, which is taxed significantly less, Haaretz reports.
Octavia’s Porch, the global Jewish cuisine restaurant run by Top Chef alum Nikki Cascone, closes after only six months, reports Eater. Z’’L
Israeli food today has become a gourmet’s dream. Like the population, the cuisine is a fusion of influences from around the world and a generation of young chefs has added sophistication and skill to the mix. But all the innovation and sophistication would fall flat without the building blocs of simple dishes and locally grown seasonal fruits and vegetables that are the base of Israeli cuisine.
To experience the complete wonder of contemporary Israeli food you might have to get on a plane, but if you want to bring home a bit of the flavor for Israeli Independence Day today, consider this short list. All of this is in reach of any JCarrot reader with some culinary inclinations. Two notable absences: falafel and hummus. Both are wonderful, but perhaps too obvious. The list is a personal non-hierarchical one so there is lots of room for commentary and quibbling — so bring it on! I am certain that there at least 100 more possibilities that I would agree could belong, so please put your favorites in the comments.
The humble egg cream is making an appearance after dinner and before dessert at Eleven Madison Park in New York City, says T Magazine. The fancy restaurant finishes their rendition of the classic with ” a splash of olive oil…[from] a silver oil can from Tiffany.”
Foreign Policy recently released it’s first-ever food issue. It includes stories on “the food wars of the 21st century, debunks the conventional wisdom about hunger and poverty, shows us 10 ways we really are what we eat, and asks leading experts to predict the future of food.”
Some say, the best falafel in Israel is in Haifa’s Wadi Nisnas neighborhood. Food Bridge gives us a tour of the best spots. One diner at Michel’s falafel commented, “I would never eat falafel anywhere else…It’s like a religion.”
Three mega-chefs (Susan Feniger, Suzanne Tracht and Nancy Silverton) cooked for 100th anniversary of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles and shared how being Jewish relates to their cooking, the Daily Dish writes.
Mexican falafel (we’re not 100% sure what that means but it apparently involves guacamole) will be hitting the streets of New York City in the CRISP Truck, according to Fork in the Road.
Passover is still three weeks away, but recipes are starting to crop up. Check out this carrot torte recipe from Joan Nathan on the Washington Post.
This past Sunday, Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” featured Israeli-born chef Michael Solomonov, of Philadelphia’s Zahav Restaurant. Solomonov battled Iron Chef Jose Garces in a head to head culinary competition. The pressure was on for both chefs who had just 60 minutes to create a world-class meal featuring passion fruit, the secret competition ingredient, which was revealed only moments before cooking began.
Solomonov, staying true to his personal and culinary roots, fried up fresh chickpea falafel with passion fruit and amba and served tuna carpaccio stuffed with tabboule. He wowed the judges with his passion fruit infused malabi custard for dessert. Iron Chef veteran Garces, impressed the judges with a “tour of the Islands,” cooking dishes from Cuba and Majorca including an opah ceviche with passion fruit sorbet. In the end, as with so many Iron Chef episodes, the challenger — Solomonov — was defeated.
Following the battle, Jew and the Carrot caught up with Solomonov to discuss his influences and what it’s really like to cook on ‘Iron Chef’.
Falafel and shwarma are so ubiquitous in Israel and in the American Jewish cuisine that it would be easy to think that there are no other iconic sandwiches of Israel. For those who think this – I am supremely sorry that up to this point, you have been deprived of sabich.
A sandwich made in pita or laffa (a baked flat bread), stuffed with fried eggplant, hummus, salads, a hard boiled or baked egg and topped with tahina and amba (a tangy bright orange condiment made from pickled mango) – sabich is a intriguing and delicious blend of textures and flavors with bites alternating between the tang of amba and the sweetness of silken fried eggplant, with the crunch of fresh Israeli salads thrown in.
For Ari A. Cohen, Falafelism is not only the title of his new documentary film, but also a philosophy, a way of looking at life.
The film, which aired last month on Canadian television, opens with Cohen in falafel gumshoe mode, wearing cool, dark shades, sitting behind the wheel of his car. “Here I go again, searching for that tasty falafel. It’s out there and I’m real hungry. I’m on a mission to find the best falafel,” he says.
Two years ago, the filmmaker set out to trace the history and follow the proliferation of the modest deep-fried chickpea falafel ball around the world. Cohen and his film crew spent four months on the falafel trail, traveling eastward from his hometown of Montreal to Israel and the Palestinian Territories – and then back, with stops along the way in Paris, London, New York and Toronto.