Israeli Cuisine and Recipe


Recipe: Couscous Salad with Tuna and Capers
By Ruth Milstein, author of the Gourmand award-winning recipe book, “Cooking with Love: Ventures Into the New Israeli Cuisine.” See more of her recipes on  

The Israeli cuisine, (ha-mitbaḥ ha-yisra’eli) in Hebrew: המטבח הישראלי) ‎comprises of local dishes by people native to Israel and dishes brought to Israel by Jews from the Diaspora.

During the early days of the state of Israel, residents of a kibbutz ate their meals in a communal dining hall. It was common for the residents to eat a light snack early in the morning, and then work in the fields for several hours. Then they returned to the dining hall for a hearty mid-morning buffet meal, similar to a Brunch.

The Israeli breakfast never includes meats such as ham and bacon, which are common on breakfast menus in many other countries. In accordance with the Jewish laws of Kashrut, (kosher) meat and dairy ingredients are never served together in a meal, and pork products are forbidden. The Israeli breakfast is a dairy meal, and a variety of cheeses are offered. Fish is considered pareve and so it is permitted with a dairy meal. Other smoked or pickled fish dishes are also common, including sardines and salmon. At hotels in Israel, the Israeli breakfast (acclaimed by many as some of the best in the world) is commonly presented as a self-service buffet. In smaller restaurants, a more streamlined menu may be presented through sit down table service.

There are two types of Israeli cuisine:

The traditional Jewish one, namely, Jews from Eastern Europe. Most of their cooking is done on the stovetop. The others are from Southern Europe and the Middle East where they do a lot of frying and roasting.

Jewish emigration to Israel stems from numerous countries:  Africa, North and South America, Europe Yemen, Turkey, and the Middle east, to name but a few.

Native Israelis and tourists can experience a variety of restaurants from all over the world offering different foods and fragrances from around the world.

In Israeli stores outside of the country, Israelis like myself will always look for some of the original foods that are native to Israeli society. Foods that we grew up on always remind us of the tastes of childhood. To name a few:

Pesek Zman and Egozie – Chocolate bars

Bamba – Peanut snack

Bisli – Salty snack

Milky and Danny – Delicacy Yogurt in chocolate, vanilla or strawberry flavors

Emek cheese – Creamy, smooth, yellow cheese

Bagel & Bagel – Pretzel, chips and baked goods.

Elite Chocolates


Israeli couscous is served today as a main dish or side dish in many prestigious restaurants in Europe and the United States. Technically, it is not considered a grain as such. Traditionally, couscous was made by rolling moistened semolina (the hard-cracked wheat produced by the first crushing in the milling process) in a bowl of flour. Since it isn’t made with a conventional dough, it’s not a true pasta, and the flour coating takes it past the point of being simply a grain. The Israeli couscous as presented here is the Moroccan style and its texture is like ‘grain’. You can also find couscous in the shape of small pearls. They are both quite healthy and very tasty!

11 oz. couscous
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons capers; coarsely chopped
2 celery sticks chopped into small cubes
2 scallions; finely chopped
1 tablespoon dry cranberry
Pinch of turmeric
Freshly ground black pepper
Half a cup parsley; finely chopped
2 cans (5oz. net each) tuna fish in oil

Prepare the couscous according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer it to a bowl and let it cool down a bit. Gently stir with a fork so that there are no lumps.

Add the oil, lemon, capers, celery, scallion, cranberry, turmeric and season with freshly ground black pepper. Blend the ingredients with a big spoon; taste and adjust the seasoning.  If desired add more olive oil.

Transfer the couscous to a serving bowl and sprinkle the chopped parsley over the top. Place the tuna with the oil over the couscous. Couscous tastes best at room temperature or cool. Makes 6 servings.


Ruth Milstein



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About the Author:

Ruth Milstein, author of the Gourmand award-winning recipe book, “Cooking with Love: Ventures Into the New Israeli Cuisine.”

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