Israeli Brunch Feast with Friends

A portrait from Brooklyn and Israel

An Israeli Brunch Feast, from Shakshuka to Israeli classic rock with lots of tahini and laughs in between.


Brunch Made Special

As our midday feast came to a close, L remarked, “I’ve made Shakshuka so many times that it feels very standard, but when making it for you guys today, and explaining the recipe and background, it really feels very special.”

israeli brunch feast
main course of israeli brunch: tomato and pepper shakshuka, challah, israeli salad

I loved hearing it said that way because it captures some of the undercurrents of this project. The foods of our homes are at once profound and so simply a part of our fabric that they can blend into the background. And yet certain things in life can remind us how unique they are and how much they mean to us. Certainly, we experience this when there is a void (like when life takes us away from our homeland or that special person who had cooked the foods of your childhood is no more), but I think if we take the time to share with others the foods that make our family unique, we can simultaneously be reminded of why they move us so deeply. This is especially true when the friends we are sharing it with are unfamiliar with that food, because the diners will come with open eyes and hearts, and will ask questions about the food and traditions that perhaps, you hadn’t considered. The resulting conversation can thus enhance the memory and depth of importance to your family. And when children are involved, both on the part of the hosts and guests, their curiosity will likely take things even deeper.

L is a friend and neighbor I have known for about 5 years and had become closer with when our sons were in the same PreK class. A notoriously good cook, when we would recount our weekends, I drooled over the dishes she would have made for dinner parties (Israeli, or any other cuisine of the world). I also loved hearing about their visits back to Israel.

When I first asked L about doing an Israeli meal together for this project, she was immediately sure she wanted to participate. However, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to make. She diligently polled friends to confirm whether there was something specific she “should” make.  She even compared her search for the “right dish” to Michael Solomonov’s quest in the “In Search of Israeli Cuisine” documentary (which, admittedly, is part of what made me even more hungry at the prospect of Israeli brunch, chez elle.)

plate full of israeli brunch: shakshuka, challah, israeli salad
plate full of israeli brunch: shakshuka, challah, israeli salad

In the end, she chose Shakshuka as the centerpiece of the meal because it is so common on Israeli tables, as well as hers, specifically. Of course, it was paired with some of her wonderful Challah bread (prepared 2 ways) and served alongside salad w/ tahini sauce. As full as we were after all that, we made space for delicious tahini cookies, hot mint tea, and Turkish coffee. What a feast! They paired it with Israeli classic rock because that was what they would likely have had on when welcoming guests for brunch.

Each and every bit of it was a treat for our senses, and our souls. 


Overall Plan

  1. Put on the playlist below.
  2. Start on the Challah. If you can, make the dough the night before and let it proof in the fridge to save time in the morning.
  3. By the time you get to the stage of sectioning it off (but not yet shaping), that’s when you can start the Shakshuka.
  4. While the tomatoes for the Shakshuka are cooking down, between infrequent stirs, you probably have time to make the salad, tahini sauce, and cookies quickly (especially if you have help).
  5. Set the table if you haven’t already.
  6. Just minutes before you’re ready to serve, you can put eggs in to finish the Shakshuka, and bring the pan over to the table for a lovely presentation, as well as for the eggs to complete their final, gentle setting.
  7. Gather your friends/family and feast! YUM.


Israeli Classic Rock

We enjoyed some Israeli classic rock while we prepared and ate our delicious Israeli brunch at the home of our friends Y & L (and kiddos J & S). Arik Einstein was a favorite that morning, and they joked that he is like the “Israeli Frank Sinatra.” 

It was – and will be for you – the perfect soundtrack, upbeat but also chill. 



fresh homemade challah, with sesame seeds and nigella seeds
fresh, homemade challah, with sesame seeds and nigella seeds



shakshuka made with peppers and tomatoes and eggs, hot off the stove
shakshuka, hot off the stove


Israeli Salad

colorful israeli salad
y. tossing the colorful israeli salad


Tahini Dressing

tahini sauce
tahini sauce adds some silky zing to whatever you enjoy it with


Tahini Cookies

tahini cookies fresh out of the oven
tahini cookies fresh out of the oven


Turkish Coffee & Mint Tea

Mint tea is as easy as it sounds! Just pour boiling water and a bunch of washed mint. You don’t need sugar but some people like to add a bit. I won’t add any specific recipe for Turkish coffee, either. It’s also simple – just use finely ground coffee (to the amount of your taste), and boil on the stove, with optional sugar. Pour it directly into cups and as it cools, any coffee grounds will be at the bottom (…which is another whole story, for another time).

turkish coffee on the stove
turkish coffee on the stove

… and now it might be time for a nap after all that delicious food! That’s how we felt after this Israeli brunch feast! We look forward to hearing about your experience of this Israeli Brunch Feast Cultures Capsule.