Updated: May 6, 2021
Israel is a melting pot of so many different cultures, each bringing its own addition to the Israeli culture. As a result, you can find so many diverse and eclectic food options all across the country. Today we will review some of the classic Israeli appetizers we have all learned to love!
If you've been to Israel, even more so if you live here, you know by now that besides all of the amazing historical sites, views, and people, Israel is a culinary mecca for food lovers. The food options are vast - Jewish, Arab, Palestinian, Druze, Bedouin, Russian, Ethiopian, South American, etc. The list goes on and on.
Israelis love to liftoah shulhan (set up a table), meaning we love to have a giant spread of dishes on the table, where everyone can taste everything, and the meal becomes a more collective activity than just a regular meal. This is especially relevant to the appetizer course of a meal.
Salatim | סָלָטִים
Salatim is the Hebrew word for salads, but when you say it here in Israel, it usually means a large array of different salads, usually covering most of the table. This is a typical appetizer in many restaurants in Israel and on many Friday night Shabbat tables. It includes many different salads, from an Israeli salad (cucumber, tomato, and onion) or eggsalad to roasted cauliflower or eggplant doused in tahini and olive oil.
Chopped liver | כָּבֵד
Although it isn't a flavor everyone likes, the large waves of Aliyah from Eastern Europe brought over this magnificent dish, incorporating it into the Israeli food scene easily. It is a favorite Shabbat lunch appetizer and can be found even on the fanciest Israeli chef restaurants' menus.
Hummus | חוּמוּס
Honestly, we've discussed this godly dish so much we don't even know what more there is to say. Everyone loves hummus, which is why it can be brought to your table, even without you ordering it.
Burekas/Pastries | בּוּרֵקָסִים
Filled with spinach, potato, meat, chicken, fish, cheese, and anything else you can think of, this carb-heaven is loved by every Israeli, and if someone tells you they don't like it - keep away from them! Burekas have become a classic appetizer served at weddings and other smahot (celebrations).
Haraymeh | חֲרַייְמָה
>Morrocan Fish Fillets of flaky white fish, floating atop a spicy red tomato sauce, filled with peppers, onions, chili peppers, chickpeas, and chopped herbs. We can just imagine ourselves grabbing a fresh piece of hallah and drenching it in the spicy sauce, dropping the signature red stain on our shirt. Absolute heaven. The amazing dish was brought over by North African Olim, and has become a Shabbat meal appetizer in almost every household in Israel.
Chicken Soup | מַרְק עוֹף
Yup, we saved the best for last. Clear broth, pieces of chicken, and chunks of delicate vegetables, who would have thought that such a simple dish would become one of the favorite appetizers in the Israeli food world. Every Israeli cultural group has its own version, from the regular Ashkenazi basic chicken soup to the Yemenite version with zehoug, or the Greek version, made with lemon juice, rice, and eggs.
Of course, this is only a partial list, as there are many more great appetizers to be found in our magnificent country. We suggest you try some of these for now and stay tuned, the next part of the list will be coming soon!