Pantry Picks: Israeli Edition

If you know, you know the boisterous beauty to Israeli food. Spanning a compellingly-chaotic compilation of cultures and sub-cultures, this is a cuisine which is emboldened by a heady mix of herbs, spices and condiments, from tahini (of course) to zhoug, harissa and more,

In fact, these pantry ingredients add much razzle-dazzle to broader cuisines beyond just Israeli cooking, often making the difference between a good dish and a great dish. To freely and easily season with them well, it’s first insightful to understand the key pantry staples and the best ways to use them. And who better to talk us through this than Eyal Jagermann, former head chef of The Barbary (arguably one of London’s best restaurants) and driving force behind Anan London (a wonderful celebration of the culture of hummus).

Here are Eyal’s pantry picks. The ingredients he always likes to have at hand in his fridge or pantry.


Tahini

This cornerstone of Middle Eastern ingredients is probably my favourite. Tahini is a toasted sesame paste that is super versatile. It can be used on its own as a condiment, dressing or sauce. You can mix it up and create endless combinations of flavours. My favourite is the classic tahini sauce requiring just salt, lemon juice and cold water!

I helped Belazu to bring an amazing tahini brand from Israel and that’s what I’m using at home and at the restaurant! Have a look at the highlights @ananlondon for tahini recipes!


Schug

A Yemini hot sauce that goes amazingly well with pretty much everything! You can use it as a marinade, a condiment, in sandwiches or as a dip.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches coriander (with the stalks)
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 green chilli (hot)
  • juice of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika

Method:

Blitz all ingredients in a fine food processor / blender stick and add oil { proportioned as ½ olive oil and ½ rapeseed oil } to adjust consistency. The sauce should be smooth and not too loose. It’s best eaten fresh, but keeps covered in the fridge for 2 weeks.


Date Syrup

Delicious, dark and sweet, this condiment is used in cooking, marinating and seasoning. Also known as date honey or Sila, its natural sweetness will colour stews and tajines. It works well in shakes, porridges, granola etc too.


Ras El Chanut

The literal translation is “Head of the Shop” and it refers to the best spice mix of a particular shop. The recipes varies but it is a warm, maroon spice mix that goes well with dishes such as chicken, lamb, rice, Majadara etc. It’s really simple and fun to make and you can play around with it until you find the perfect mix!

Here is a simple recipe; you can scale it up to make a bigger batch:

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tbsp cumin
  • ½ tbsp coriander seeds
  • ¼ tbsp clove
  • ¼ tbsp cardamon
  • ½ tbsp salt
  • ½ tbsp black pepper

Method:

Try and get the spices whole, toast them in a dry pan and blitz it together using a spice grinder or pestle & mortar. Keep in a dry container!


Caramelized onions

I love the natural sweetness that this method produces. It’s such a simple recipe and the result is very versatile and delicious:

Simply slice white onions and place in a pot/pan with a bit of vegetable oil and salt. Place on low heat and let cook for 3-4 hours while stirring occasionally. The onions will begin to sweat and then caramelise and transform into golden brown with nutty sweet flavour. It can be kept in the fridge for a week and used in salads, garnishes, pastry fillings, and much more! Caramelised onions are also the starring garnish in a humble majadara – rice cooked together with lentils. It’s unbelievably easy to make!

Majadara

This is a great side or a beautiful plant-based main dish that is healthy and delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 cup lentils – any type that you like!
  • 1 cup caramelized onions
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Ras el Chanut

Method:

  • Cook the rice and lentil normally, make sure you lightly season the cooking water so flavour will penetrate the grain.
  • Once rice and lentils are cooked, combine both with caramelized onion and mix well. Add a teaspoon of ras el chanut to give it a nice deep flavour and serve!

Tip: You can toast some pine nuts and flaked almonds and sprinkle on top, with some chopped parsley and tahini on the side. Great meal!


About Eyal Jagermann:

Tel Aviv born chef and restauranteur, Eyal Jagermann, trained and worked in Tel Aviv’s finest restaurants before moving to London to study culinary management Le Cordon Bleu. Eyal then went on to work as a chef and front of house at The Palomar, before co-founding The Barbary in Neal’s yard where he led the team as head chef. The Barbary received many plaudits, including TimeOut’s best restaurant in London two years in a row.

Eyal’s love and passion for Middle Eastern and Israeli food and heritage has led him to founding ANAN, a new restaurant concept that celebrates the wonderful culture and heritage of hummus eating in the Middle East. ANAN launched earlier this year in a very successful residency at Allpress Dalston Lane, and have plans to open in a permanent site as soon as circumstances allow..

Follow Eyal @EyalJ @AnanLondon


Do let us know if these Pantry Picks inspire you – leave a comment below; and tag us in your delicious creations on Instagram @the_foodiediaries.

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