Exploring flavour of Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv, by Neni, photography by Nuriel Molcho, Murdoch Books, RRP $55
Tel Aviv, by Neni, photography by Nuriel Molcho, Murdoch Books, RRP $55
A recipe book with cultural exploration, Tel Aviv gives you a taste of life in the Israeli city.

Not only does it feature local recipes, it also allows residents to talk about their lives as they share their stories.

It is put together by Haya Molcho, a Tel Aviv-born cook who opened her restaurant, Neni, at the Viennese Naschmarkt in Austria in 2009 with her four sons. The restaurant's name is made up of their initials.

Neni is now a chain of restaurants in Europe and includes its own cooking school and product line.

For this book, the family and some of the restaurant team decamped to Tel Aviv for a few weeks to tour the city, investigating its regional culinary roots and the new, innovative ideas filtering through restaurants and street food.

''We found something of the distinctive character of this wonderful city and gained historical and sociological insights to its culinary traditions and latest trends.''

All of the dishes in the book were prepared in the city using ingredients bought fresh from the markets.

They met the locals they interviewed - the fisherman, a blogging taxi driver, a traditional baker - in their workplaces and homes.

''No-one has to be especially encouraged to talk in Tel Aviv, and as soon as people sit down together at a table, not only is food shared but also ideas, stories, opinions and recipes.''

The book is broken up into chapters based on main components - vegetables and grains, seafood, meat and sweets as well as one on Neni's basic components.

In each chapter there is the story of a local and photographs of the city and their workplace, followed by recipes.


Photos: Nuriel Molcho
Photos: Nuriel Molcho
Israeli seafood paella

Serves 6-8 as a main


For the croutons
3 slices sourdough bread, flatbread or challa (1 day old)
1 Tbsp dried za'atar spice mix
2 Tbsp olive oil

For the marinated za'atar
1 small red onion
2 bunches fresh za'atar or oregano
2 Tbsp sumac
juice of ½ lemon
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp sea salt

For the stewed tomatoes
2.5kg multicoloured cherry tomatoes
4 garlic cloves
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
20 calamari
12 prawns (jumbo shrimp)
Olive oil
100g ½feta cheese
1 lime

To garnish
fresh za'atar
sumac, for sprinkling

Heat oven to 200degC. For the croutons, tear bread into coarse pieces and combine with the dried za'atar spice mix and the olive oil on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Roast in the oven until the bread is golden brown and crispy, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

While the bread roasts, marinate the za'atar. Peel the onion and cut into thin slices. Pluck the za'atar leaves from the stems. Mix both together in a bowl with the sumac, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and let rest for at least 10 minutes.

For the stewed tomatoes, heat the oven grill to 260degC. Quarter the tomatoes and peel the garlic. Mix all ingredients together on a baking tray lined with baking paper and cook under the hot grill for 20 minutes, so the tomatoes give off a bit of liquid. Take out and set aside.

Clean the calamari and prawns. Heat a chargrill pan and brush with a bit of olive oil. Cook the seafood, turning after 1-2 minutes. Grill the other side for 1-2 minutes and lift out of the pan. (The prawns are done as soon as they turn pink. The calamari should be lightly browned.)

Coarsely crumble the feta and quarter the lime. Arrange the seafood and croutons on plates with the stewed tomatoes. Add the feta and lime quarters and garnish with the marinated and the fresh za'atar and with the sumac. - Recipe from Yael and Keren Stellegofen

Knafeh tatin with plums

Makes 28cm tart

700g plums
200g sugar
130g butter, plus extra for greasing
120ml cream
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 pinch sea salt
200g kataifi pastry (angel hair)
icing sugar, for dusting

Heat the oven to 220degC. Halve and stone the plums. Caramelise the sugar in a wide saucepan, add 55 g butter and stir until melted.

Add the cream and 50ml water and slowly bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil down for several minutes to make a creamy sauce, then stir in the lemon juice and salt. Add the plums and toss in the sauce.

Melt 75g butter in a small saucepan. On a work surface or in a bowl, pull apart the kataifi pastry strings a bit with your hands, pour the butter over the top and briefly stir. (This makes the dough strings softer and easier to work with.)

Butter the tart pan. Spoon in the plums with the sauce and cover with the kataifi pastry strings.

Bake in the oven until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Then take out and unmould on to a large plate (taking care not to burn yourself, as the hot juice of the fruit can leak out). Dust with icing sugar and serve warm.

Haya's tip: A delicious complement to this dish is home-made yoghurt ice cream. It is easy to make as it consists of only 3 ingredients.

For about 640ml of ice cream you need 500g of Greek yoghurt, 100g of sugar and 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Thoroughly stir all ingredients together and churn in an ice cream maker. Ready to eat!


Serves 4-6


For the tomato salad
4 tomatoes
1 garlic clove
1 handful coriander (cilantro) leaves
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
sea salt

For the eggplant
canola oil, for deep-frying
2 eggplants (aubergines)
plain flour, for dusting
sea salt
5 eggs
4-6 small, round pieces of focaccia bread
250g tahini
80g amba
50g zhug
1 handful coriander (cilantro) leaves

For the tomato salad, dice the tomatoes, and peel and finely chop the garlic. Finely chop the coriander leaves as well. Mix the garlic and coriander together with the olive oil and lemon juice in a bowl and season with salt.

Fold in the diced tomatoes and leave until you are ready to serve.

Heat an ample amount of canola oil in a deep saucepan. Peel the eggplant and cut lengthways into 5mm (¼ inch) thick slices.

Dust with flour and fry in the hot oil until they take on a golden-brown colour. Remove with a mesh strainer, drain on paper towels and season with salt.

Boil the eggs for 6½ minutes, then peel, cut in half or into slices and season with salt. Drizzle the focaccia with tahini and amba.

Distribute the eggplant, eggs and tomato salad over the top, season with zhug and garnish with coriander leaves.

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