Food Friday: “A Taste of Israel”

This week we’re featuring a cookbook from Penguin Random House South Africa that is now available in English for the first time!

A Taste of Israel brings you all the flavors of Israeli cooking, from the classics to modern day dishes.

9781432305628In author Nida Degutienė‘s own words: ‘In Israel food holds a special place in Jewish life. From early morning until dawn the next day, Israelis are always nibbling on something and enjoying one another’s company, and on any given holiday festive tables groan under the weight of a multitude of dishes and goodies. This book is an open door into the kitchens of the ordinary Israeli home. It is also an invitation to explore the country’s diverse street food and offers a behind-the-scene glimpse at some of its gourmet restaurants. You’ll find recipes for dishes that do much more than satisfy hunger. They are memories and stories shared with me over the course of five years by Litvaks from Israel and South Africa, by my Israeli friends, by their mothers and their grandmothers. They reflect the traditions, history and customs passed down the generations. They are an attempt at returning a piece of Jewish heritage to the small but vibrant Jewish community in Lithuania.’

Available for the first time in English, A Taste of Israel describes the food through the eyes of a foreigner and non-Jew, who was lucky enough to become part of that Jewish community. Chapters are divided into the usual arrangement of appetizers, starters, mains and desserts, but there are also sections on the different religious festivals, as well as detailed information of what constitutes ‘kosher’. All the well-known classics are there, such as Gefilte fish, Knaidlach, Latkes and Challah, and more, in the 100 plus recipes, whether traditional or modern.


One of the things I love about this cookbook is the short explanations that go with each recipe. They give you background on the dish: where it came from, why it’s popular, how and when it’s eaten, and often they describe variations on the dish or tips on how to best prepare it.

Today’s recipe is called Shakshouka. I firmly believe that brunch is the best meal of the day, and I chose this recipe because I know it will be a delicious addition to your traditional weekend meals! Keep reading for the full recipe so you can test it out at brunch this weekend.


Serves 4-6
Shakshouka – eggs cooked in a tomato or vegetable sauce – came to Isreal from Tunisia and quickly became a favourite dish. It is made differently in every home and is eaten at any time of the day. In the old city of Jaffa there is a restaurant called Dr. Shakshouka where shakshouka is the sole item on the menu. In summer and autumn it’s made with fresh, ripe tomatoes and seasoned with a gamut of North African spices. At other times of the year, shakshouka is made with canned tomatoes, leeks and feta, with sweet peppers, or potatoes and aubergines, or baby marrows.

6 large, very ripe tomatoes
(or 2 x 400g cans peeled and chopped tomatoes in tomato juice)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes, or to taste
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 large red or green sweet peppers, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
freshly ground black pepper
4-6 eggs (farm fresh if possible)
a handful of fresh coriander, or parsley, or spring onions, chopped

Bring a large pot of water to boil (sufficient to totally submerge the tomatoes). Gently cut a small ‘x’ into the skin of the tomatoes, then carefully submerge, one by one, into the boiling water. Remove after 30 seconds. Rinse in cold water, peel, and chop. (reserve the accumulated juice.)

Heat the oil in a large, deep pan. Add the cumin, paprika, and chili flakes. Cook for about 30 seconds, stirring. Add the onion and sweet peppers. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the vegetables soften. Add the garlic and tomato paste. Cook about a minute longer, stirring.

Add the chopped tomatoes and all the reserved juice.  Toss in a pinch of salt and season with black pepper. Stew in an uncovered pot over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture thickens. Taste and the seasoning if necessary.

Make small hollows in the tomato mixture. Gently crack one egg into each hollow. Cover the pan with a lid and cook 2-3 minutes, until the egg whites are firm and the yolks thicken.

To serve, use a broad spatula or spoon to place the egg and tomato mixture onto a plate. Garnish with generous amounts of chopped greens.

Israel Shakshouka.jpg

Full recipe text and image found on pages 50-51 of A Taste of Israel.

And there you have it! The perfect new recipe that sure to become your next brunch staple.

For more delicious Israeli cuisine, you can purchase your copy of A Taste of Israel here for just $31.95!

Are you interested in a specific cookbook from Let us know in the comments, and you might see it in the next Food Friday!


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