Apr 092011
 
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Israeli Breakfast

Whole Wheat rolls, Yemenite Flatbread, Olives from the Judean Hills, Pickled Baby Eggplants, Assorted Cheeses, Arab Salad, Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice, Coffee

 

The tradition of an Israeli breakfast, which is similar to the Arab breakfast, began in the early days of the 20th century on the kibbutz. Kibbutzniks would go out to the fields at the crack of dawn to work before the heat of the day, and they’d return home at 9AM to eat a giant breakfast consisting of fluffy omelettes, fresh salads made with cucumbers and sweet tomatoes, hummus, eggplant salad, pita and other breads, and homemade jams. This hearty breakfast spilled over into hotels starting in the 1930s, and now you can have an Israeli breakfast at most cafes and restaurants.

This Israeli tradition has become a weekend ritual in my home, sometimes an elaborate affair for guests, but always made with local ingredients from trips to dairy farms or the shuk. The Israeli breakfast is ideally a leisurely breakfast eaten with family and friends talking about current events, recent travels, or just catching up. In our house, we play early or classical music in the background, talk a little, read the newspaper, and read that book that we have been trying to finish for weeks.

I always make either a fresh herb omelette or frittata, with a selection of cheeses such as labne, Bulgarian feta, and cottage cheese, bread, olives, and jams. This weekend I made a Persian frittata called Kuku (pronounced KooKoo), which is a herb frittata that varies from region to region: some kukus are made with a Persian spice mixture called adviehis, which is a blend of cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, and dried rose petals. It is typically served in the Spring during the Persian New Year, Nowruz.

The kuku I made only called for allspice and saffron, but it was just enough spice to go with the herbs and vegetables in this recipe. This frittata is simply delicious and will definitely be served again on our table.

What special dishes do you make for breakfast?

Kuku

Kuku

Serving Size: 4 as a main course

(Persian Omelette with Saffron) Recipe from Moro East by Sam & Sam Clark

1 large aubergine, cut into 1.5cm (1/2 inch) cubes

50g (3-1/2 tablespoons) butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

6 allspice berries, crushed (or a pinch of ground allspice)

6 green onions, thinly sliced

6 large eggs

2 rounded tablespoons barberries or currants

2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts

A good pinch of saffron (about 40 strands), soaked in 1 tablespoon boiling water

250g (1/2lb) fresh spinach, wilted in a hot frying pan with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt, then drained and roughly chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint

Preheat a 25 cm (9 inch) round baking dish or ovenproof frying pan in the oven at 220C (425F).

Sprinkle the aubergine with a good pinch of salt and let stand for about 5 minutes. Pat the moisture off of the aubergine and set aside.

Heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the green onion and allspice. Saute for about a couple of minutes and then add the aubergine, stirring often until tender and making sure the onion does not burn. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Whisk the eggs in a medium-sized bowl and add the barberries, pine nuts, saffron (including the liquid), spinach, parsley, mint, and salt and pepper. Add the aubergine mixture. Remove the baking dish from the oven and pour in the egg mixture. Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until the egg has set and the top is slightly brown and puffy. Let the kuku rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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Baroness Tapuzina

avatarMichelle Nordell (aka Baroness Tapuzina) was a foodie from the womb growing up in the House of Weird Vegetables, so named by a family friend because all of the unusual and exotic food cooked and eaten there. She loves to change recipes using herbs from her garden and spices from the spice shops she enjoys visiting.

  7 Responses to “Israeli Breakfast at Home”

  1. Yum! Eggplant and eggs are two of my favorite foods. We always go for some version of the classic Israeli breakfast when we are in the mood for something savory on leisurely mornings. When it’s sweet we want, it’s either our favorite granola or french toast made with my homemade challah :)

  2. avatar

    Delighted to see your post! I love kuku, and yours looks so delicious and more interesting than those I’ve had, which often have greens but not eggplant, pine nuts or barberries. I like the idea of adding allspice and saffron too.

    A few shopping questions: Do you happen to know the word for barberries in Hebrew and where did you buy them? Are you able to find advieh at the supermarket, or do you have to go to a spice shop like Tavlini Tevel in Jerusalem?

    Also, where did you get those wonderful Yemenite flatbreads?

    • avatar

      Thanks Faye! It was delicious. I believe barberries are called ברביריס in Hebrew. I don’t know of another name. I couldn’t find them at Eden Teva Market, where I was shopping at the time, but I did find currants. I am sure you can find them at one of the dried fruit vendors at Shuk Levinsky in Tel Aviv. I didn’t look for advieh, but I bet the little no name spice shop I like to go to at Mahane Yehuda has it or will know where to get it. The spice shop is next to the synagogue and across from an ice cream shop, I think it is on HaShaked Street.

      I bought the flatbread from a tiny Yemenite bakery in Hod HaSharon. They sell all of the Yemenite goodies: Gubana, flatbread, pita, jachnun, etc. There is also a very nice Yemenite bakery in Shuk Mahane Yehuda and you can buy it from a sweet little old man at Shuk HaCarmel. He has a rolling cart. There is also a woman at Shuk Rosh HaAyin that sells it.

  3. avatar

    Thanks so much for all the information. That knowledge is so valuable. I don’t know how I missed the Yemenite bakery during my last visit to Shuk Mahane Yehuda. I will definitely put it on my list for next time. We found delicious Yemenite breads at a bakery in one of the little streets around Shuk Hatikva but that was some years ago and I don’t know if it’s still there. They were thick and satisfying, and I couldn’t stop eating them!

    Have you been to the Eden Teva Market in (or near) Netanya? It got a lot of publicity before it opened, and it promised to be fantastic.

    • avatar

      You are welcome. I will be happy to show where they are next time you come here. :-) I always go to the Eden Teva Market in Netanya because it is a 15 minute drive from my house. It is very nice, but expensive. I really like their selection of dry goods (i.e. pulses, dried fruits, teas, and spices).

      • avatar

        Thank you! That would be fun! Thinking about those Yemenite breads is making me hungry already! Eden Teva sounds like Whole Foods (also expensive but great selection of pulses, grains, etc) and I would love to see it.

  4. One of my favorite breakfast salads is avacado mashed up with some labane, mayo, mint, and lemon (+S+P). There is never enough.

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