One of the many wonderful things about Israel is the wide range of cultures it brings together. One area where this is particularly evident is the country’s food as each group of immigrants has brought its own style of cooking with it and as time progresses, the different styles of cuisine are slowly merging.
If you like spicy food, then you are likely to love Ethiopian food. It is known to be one of the most interesting cuisines in the world thanks to its rich dishes with varied flavours. Typical foods include vegetarian or meat stews with injera bread, but there is normally much more on the menu. While on your gap year, you will have plenty of chances to visit Ethiopian restaurants, where you can learn about the culture while enjoying the food.
One particularly famous restaurant is Balinjera in Tel Aviv. Its owner, Fanta Pradal, believes that sharing a meal is an important social event, which is how the restaurant got its name (it means “togetherness” in Amharic). It offers several traditional Ethiopian dishes, such as as Tibs Balinjera (beef stir-fry with black pepper, onion and rosemary) as well as a number of dishes with an Israeli influence. The restaurant is kosher, so you can visit with all of your friends to experiences togetherness Ethiopian style.
If you want to experience something truly unique, then visit Habash, another kosher Ethiopian restaurant in Tel Aviv. It was created by Emanuel Hedna, a former lawyer with the dream of bringing Ethiopian food to the Israeli public. The restaurant has been designed to look and feel like a cabin in an Ethiopian village, and with its large dishes that are served to the centre of the table, it offers a special atmosphere that you are sure to enjoy.
Another restaurant that deserves a mention is Lalibela. It is owned by Tali Sisai who has always dreamt of creating a Jewish-Ethiopian heritage museum. Together with traditional dishes, such as Kinche (a type of porridge) and Gomen (A chard stew), the restaurant also hosts numerous performances and music, and displays art, ensuring that you have a truly cultural experience while enjoying your meal.
Moving outside of Tel Aviv, if you are ever in Beersheva then it is worth making a trip to Tzlal, located in an alley in the Old City. Not only is it a restaurant and a pub, but it also serves as an open space to learn about Ethiopian culture and listen to live African music. It is also a particularly good choice for those who are indecisive as it serves just three dishes, including a vegetarian option.
In Ashkelon you will find Enanye, a kosher restaurant that offers numerous rich and varied dishes. The restaurant claims that all of its recipes have been passed down for generations and that everything is freshly handmade.
There are many more excellent Ethiopian restaurants to be found in Israel, such as Almaz Mendel, in Florentin, Tel Aviv, Lucy, in South Tel Aviv, and Mama’s Restaurant, in Haifa. No matter which of these you choose to visit, you will have the chance to learn a bit about Ethiopian food and culture while enjoying a delicious meal.