recipes Archives - Yoni Tours

The humble and majestic Pita

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In Israel, whether you’re sitting at home and getting a snack, going out for a falafel, making lunch for your kids or sitting in a high-class chef restaurant, there will always be one thing in common-

The humble and majestic pita.

The pita has a long history. It first originated in West Asia around the year 2500 BCE, in the time following it spread across the middle east and became a staple of the middle eastern diet.

There are a few  different techniques used to make pita. Traditionally they are baked in a stone oven although nomads cooked them over fires in the form of a laffa – a larger thinner flat bread without a pocket.

In modern times there are special mechanic ovens that bake the pitas from both sides ensuring that a beautiful pocket is formed.

The pita is a humble bread it is relatively cheap  and the most common bread in Israel and in the middle east.

At the same time it is frightfully versatile and the perfect side kick to many different styles of food. whether it be packed, used to scoop, to mix or any other form of use.

From labane to shakshuka, falafel to shwarma or the beautiful sabich- pita is the bread that you’re looking for!

Over the years i generally made pita at various campfires or tourist related gatherings- using a simple mixture of water and flour then tossing it over a large saj which was placed over a camp fire.

nothing too complicated- very straightforward.

One day I was at home and made shakshuka only to realise to my horror that I had no bread so I quickly made some pita before the food cooled down. It tasted just as good cooked on a stove top and not a fire.

Pita is a delicious bread and easy to make anywhere and everywhere. With this little and simple recipe you can bring some of Israel into your house wherever you are!!

This is a very basic pita recipe. They can be baked over a saj (upside down wok), in a dry frying pan (no oil) or the oven like you would any flatbread bake.

1 kg flour
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
11/2 tsp yeast
Up to 3 cups water
Let raise for 1 hour
Split it to as many pitas as you want and rest for another hour.

Flatten them out into circles 1 cm thick and bake.

Bake until they are puffed up and slightly brown.

best eaten with zatar spice and olive oil!


A standard shakshuka

Israels’ Ultimate Breakfast

Posted by | Food, Markets, oriental food, recipes, traditional food, Uncategorized | One Comment

If you could create the perfect breakfast- one that could also be served as a good lunch or dinner, what would it be?

I can hear you saying to yourselves ‘obviously hummus ‘ or ‘Yoni’s thinking about shawarma like he always does’ but no. I’m thinking of the true breakfast of champions- Shakshuka!

Shakshuka is a staple of many north African countries including Tunisian, Libya, Algeria and Morocco. It was introduced to Israel in the 1950’s when thousands of Tunisian and Maghrebi Jews immigrated. You may have seen it before- a frying pan filled with a red tomato sauce in which an egg or two have been cooked.

We Israelis have developed it past a simple food into a complete art form. Over time it has developed from a working class food to a well known and recognized national treasure.

The basics of Shakshuka are always the same although different traditions and different restaurants make Shakshuka in their own unique way. Some make the sauce based on red peppers, others add copious amounts of spinach. Some places give it a ‘balkan’ flavour by adding salty cheese and eggplant.

Regardless of the various changes it always makes a very filling and nourishing meal!

If you really want t understand what shakshuka is all about I recommend going to many small coffee shops and trying various types. I recommend Dr. Shakshuka in Jaffa, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the shakshuka served at the old train station in Jerusalem.

There are many restaurants which boast having the best one, and every Israeli will tell you that he can make the best one.
But to tell the truth, I make the best Shakshuka of all. For all of you at home who want to make your first Shakshuka here is my recipe:

Yoni’s Best Shakshuka


2 large onions diced
1 red pepper diced
2 very ripe tomatoes diced
100 ml tomato paste
100 ml water
5 cloves garlic
4 cardamom pods
3 dashes of hot paprika
3 dashes of turmeric
3 dashes of cumin
bunch of dried sweet basil
handful of diced parsley
tbsp. diced ginger root
copious amounts of olive oil
4 eggs


Saute garlic, ginger, cardamom pods and onion in a wide frying pan. Once the onions are ‘clear’ add the cumin, turmeric and hot paprika. Mix it in until the spices are evenly spread and add the red pepper.
As the red pepper is sautéing add the basil and parsley.
When you smell the basil and parsley add the diced tomatoes and mix very well.
Add in the tomato paste and 100ml water and mix well.
Add salt and pepper.
Cook the mixture for two minutes at a low heat so that it doesn’t burn.
Add enough water to almost cover the vegetables, and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Dig 4 small indentations for the eggs. Pour each egg into each to its own indentation. Cover the pan and let cook for a couple of min until the whites cook but the eggs are still soft.

Serve with fresh pita and a nice fresh salad.


Knafeh from the market

The search for the perfect Knafeh

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Many years ago I heard a song about HaKnafeh Hametuka– the sweet Knafeh. This piqued my interest. If it was so good that songs were written about it then I had to have some!

After a while of asking at stores and coffee shops, I found out that it was a sweet pastry with cheese and that I was most likely to find it in the Arab shuk (market).

Sure enough it was there- a brilliant orange coloured pastry made of a bed what looked like shredded filo dough covered with goat cheese and then sandwiched with another layer of the brilliant orange pastry.
I noticed that when the merchants sold servings of the Knafeh they would pour a warm syrup over it.

Similar to the Sachlav which I wrote about earlier, Knafeh is a popular traditional dessert in all parts of the Arab world which were once part of the Ottoman empire; Jordan, Syria, Turkey as well as a host of other countries including Israel.

There are many variations. For instance the colour can vary- in Jerusalem it is usually coloured bright orange. The major differences have to do with the type of pastry or the type of cheese filling. In some places the filling is a mixture semolina and milk rather than goat cheese.

During the summer, Knafeh is hard to come by, it is traditionally made during the winter.

Where can you find it? It can be found in the ‘shuk’ -markets in Jerusalem, in the city of Abu Gosh, and at various markets in Tel Aviv and Jaffa. As of yet, the best that I found was sold by a Bedouin who runs a stand (which isn’t always open) in the mall at the Alonim intersection (highway 77 and 75).

Some other interesting facts:

The largest plate of Knafeh was made in 2009 in Nablus. Its dimensions were 75 by 2 meters, and it weighed 1,350 Kg.

In 2013 Google reported that Knafeh was the food that was searched for most by Muslims during the month of Ramadan.


Here is a recipe for those of you who want to try it at home.



200 g kadaif noodles
75-100 g melted butter/ margarine
130 g soft goat cheese
1 c water
1 c sugar
2 tsp rose water


First you need to make a rose water syrup. Boil the water, add in the sugar and make sure it
all dissolves. Remove the mixture from the heat let it cool a bit and add in the rose water. Set the syrup aside for later use.

Start by separating the kadaif noodles from each other and coating them with the melted butter/ margarine. each of the strands has to be lightly coated with the butter. Separate the noodles into two even sections (100g each).

Take one of the portions of the noodles and spread it out on a frying pan. It should make a layer no thicker than half a cm and not to thin either.

As the layer of noodles is cooking spread the cheese over it and then over the cheese layer the second batch of noodles. when the bottom layer of noodles caramelizes (turns golden) flip it over and let the other side caramelize.

Just before you turn off the heat pour half of the syrup over the Knafeh . Serve it Immediately while it’s still hot.

Naturally it is best served alongside Turkish coffee.


Sachlav at the market

Sachlav: The winter comfort food of Israel

Posted by | Food, Markets, oriental food, recipes, traditional food, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Everyone has a comfort food for cold winter days. I acquired mine soon after moving to Israel.

On one of my first winter trips to the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem I noticed large metallic urns from which merchants were serving a thick aromatic drink..

After pouring a cup of a mysterious steaming thick white liquid the merchant sprinkled some cinnamon. crushed walnuts and dried coconut over it and sent me on my way.

It was then that my love affair with the ever elusive sachlav started.

I have spent hours and hours over years trying to find the best cup of sachlav. Most places will serve you milk, thickened with cornstarch and flavoured with rose water and a few spices.

The traditional drink dates back to Roman times and was most popular and spread throughout the Ottoman empire.
Sachlav or sachleb in Arabic translates to orchid. The sweet white drink is traditionally made from ground orchid bulbs.

During the time that it was most popular orchids almost became extinct in the lands under Ottoman control. The rising prices of the orchid bulbs resulted in the cornstarch version that is so common today.

When it is cold and I find myself in the streets of Jerusalem I always feel an uncontrollable pull to ‘Nisans’ spice shop at the Mahane Yehuda Market where I always find a smile and a cup of real sachlav made from orchid bulbs.

Here is a recipe that you can use to make it at home:


4 cups of milk (not skim)
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. rose water
sugar to taste
ground cinnamon to taste
chopped walnuts/ pistachios to taste
ground coconut to taste


Heat the milk in a small saucepan. Once the milk is warm add the cornstarch and mix with a fork until an even texture is achieved.
Let the milk simmer at a low heat until it thickens. Stir constantly to avoid burning the milk.
Mix in the rose water and remove from heat. Add sugar to taste.
Pour into a cup and sprinkle the cinnamon, coconut and nuts on top.

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