Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Buying Falafel PLUS Hebrew Lesson

I thought my son and I were unique, occasionally ordering a pita sandwich with all the fixings, but no falafel.  However, on my last trip, a man ordered "chips" (French fries, for you Americans) on a hoagie bun.  That's it, a roll full of deep fried potatoes.  This shop, Shawarma Hacohanim, seems to have unusually sweet chips, but what really makes it my favorite is the fried eggplant, bell peppers, and friendly service.  The falafel is tasty and never under cooked, and the pita is VERY fresh - soft, springy, and delicious.  And another perk - I order and wait inside where there's no smoking!

my favorite take-homes: peppers,
eggplant, & sauerkraut
Most falafel shops begin serving falafel around 10 or 11 in the morning and are open late.  Most have some kosher supervision and are closed on Shabbat and holidays.  Hacohanim has some indoor seating and has a sukkah outside during Sukkot, so diners can fulfil the mitzvah of dwelling in the sukkah.  There seems to be a little price war between Hacohanim and the falafel shop on the other side of the small street.  Mimi of Israeli Kitchen wrote a post featuring the other shop with exterior photos of both.

A falafel sandwich is a delicate balance of ingredients and if one is off or missing, my falafel experience feels incomplete.  In the coming weeks I plan to teach you how to make many of the ingredients necessary to create you own falafel dinner.  First, we'll see how the experts put together a great falafel pita.



Video URL

 Above: Toppings include bottles of hareef, tehina, amba, and ketchup. Right: My son partaking in his falafel-less sandwich.


Lets learn some Falafel and Shawarma vocabulary!
falafel with "chips"
(All the 'H's in the words below are prounounced as a guteral like is often speled 'ch' or 'kh.')

פלאפל A falafel is a deep fried ball of ground chickpeas.  Falafel can also refer to a sandwich with falafel balls in pita.
חצילים hatzilim - eggplants
חמוצים hamutzim - pickles
סלט salat - usually Israeli salad, primarily chopped cucumbers and tomatoes
כרוב kruv - cabbage, in this case, sauerkraut
"salads" and sauces - most of the items are spicey and/or pickled
חומוס prounounced "hoo-moos" (with the guteral 'h') - Hummus is a dip or spread made primarily of ground chickpeas, usually with olive oil.  It can contain salt, water, garlic, lemon juice, and other flavors.
חריף hareef - sharp or spicy, often referring to a spicy sauce
עמבה amba - spicey curries mango sauce
טחינה prounounced t'hina  (with the guteral 'h') - Tehina (or tehini) is a sauce made from a paste of ground sesame seeds. It is usually drizzled into the falafel sandwich as a final topping
רוטב rotav - sauce or dressing
פטרוזיליה petrozilia - parsley
בצל betzal - onions, in this case thinly sliced and dusted with purplish red summac
פלפלים pilpellim - peppers
גזר gezzer - carrot
פלפל חריפ pilpel harif - hot peppers
שווארמה shawarma - layers of meat roasted on a spit, most commonly turkey or lamb. Can also refer to a shawarma sandwich.
הודו, עוף, כבש hodu, oaf, keves - turkey, chicken, lamb (shawarma meat options)
פיתה, לאפה, לחמניה pita, laffa, lahmania - pocket bread, large flat bread, bun (bread options)
מפיות mappiot - napkins, of which you will need a lot!

I love that metal zig-zag thing used to hold the
pita upright while you pay and take your salads.
In back - turkey shawarma and "baby chicken" shawarma


Thanks SHAWARMA HACOHANIM, 22 Hahistadrut, Petach Tikva, Israel, 03-9130351 ("Lemehadrin" Glatt kosher under Mishkoltz supervision.)

Note: I was not paid to write this post; the shop owner just patiently let me take pictures and video. He has been kind and helpful since the first week I arrived and has not chastised me about my lack of Hebrew two years later.

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