What is “Jewish Food?”

What is “Jewish Food?” and What is “Israeli Food?” It’s complicated, but simple.

It seems like the question “What is Jewish Food?” is simple but it’s a bit more complex than that. “Jewish Food” follows the laws of Kashrut (or at least Kosher style) and is made up of all the cuisines that Jews have adapted from their time in exile from every corner of the world. In most cases, many Jews have made it their own. It’s a mixture of custom and tradition based on the holidays of the Jewish faith. It’s leftovers from Shabbat dinner. It’s… complicated. But simple.

What is "Jewish Food"

Challah is found on every table in Israel on Shabbat

Modern Israeli Cuisine is a fusion of all of these factors and more! Nowadays, almost everyone eats Challah on Shabbat and Latkes on Hannukah and borekas with eggs every morning!

From our continual presence in the land of Israel for thousands of years, to the four corners of the Earth in exile until the reestablishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948, Jews have adopted and brought with them all kinds of cuisine and here we’ll discuss the most prominent types of food (with just a few over-generalizations to avoid long history lessons!) Add your voice to the comments if you want to add more information for our readers!

Kosher Food – Kashrut in a short summary is the prohibition against mixing together milk and meat, seafood without fins or scales, pork and the adoption of ritual slaughter. All of the recipes found on this website follow these rules. The basics of Kashrut can be found on our website by clicking here.

Food Inspired by the Jewish Holidays – On Shabbat (Sabbath, Friday night until Saturday night), we bake and eat challah. On the holiday of Passover, we refrain from eating leavened bread and eat Matzah and Matzah inspired dishes. You can find more about Jewish Holiday food and what we eat each holiday along with tasty recipes by clicking here.

Ashkenazi – Ashkenazi Jews are Jews who were exiled from Israel to the north and east, and nowadays primarily hail from Europe, Russia, the United States, Australia, South Africa and parts of South America. Ashkenazi food nowadays typically means everything from New York City deli-inspired bagels, lox and shmear to Russian soups such as borscht to South African/Australian BBQ and more! Prepare some of these dishes by clicking here.

What is "Jewish Food"

The spices of the Silk Road can be found throughout the Holy Land

Sephardi/Mizrachi/Persian/Yemenite – Jews from North Africa and Spain to the Middle East and Persia have adopted foods such as Hummus, Pita, Falafel, Chraime (Spicy Fish), Kubbeh, Cholow Nokhodow beef stew and more! Most of these tasty dishes fall under the Mediterranean Diet, rich in olive oil, fresh fruits and loads of nuts and veggies. You can find recipes for all of these tasty foods by clicking here.

Ethiopian – From the Gondar highlands to the capital of Addis Ababa, delicious dishes such as alicha wot (vegetables stew), doro wot (chicken drumsticks with boiled eggs) or kik wot (split peas) all loaded on top of spongy injera bread that, of course, you eat by hand. Usually very spicy, these dishes are fantastic, mostly vegetarian/vegan friendly, healthy and tasty! You can find fantastic Ethiopian recipes by clicking here.

Diaspora Jewry – From the aforementioned Dutch Jews in Cape Town, South Africa, to the Bnei Menashe Jews of India to the Jews of Buenos Aires, Argentina, diaspora Jewry have brought Kosher versions of famous foreign dishes to the Holy Land for decades. You can find more delicious recipes by clicking here.

I hope we’ve solved your question of “What is Jewish Food.” As Jews have fled pogrom and persecution, our food and traditions have followed us throughout the ages. All of these cuisines have further developed Israel’s culinary culture and have made Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem a must-visit for foodies from all over the world.

israeli olive oil

Israeli Olives and Olive Oil at the Jerusalem Shuk (Photo: IsraeliAbroad)

Check out some healthy recipes by clicking here


Chocolate Tahini Cookies

Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies

Vegan and Gluten-Free? These Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies are so good your guests will never know From the realm of Israeli tahini-related desserts comes these tasty vegan and gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Tahini Cookies.     I think we might have a little Tahini obsession. From delicious Gluten-Free Tahini Banana Bread to our easy-to-make homemade tahini […]


Tasty Tabbouleh is Your New “Go-To” Summer Salad

Your new favorite health salad is Tabbouleh, the tasty vegan-friendly salad found throughout the Middle East.  

Classic Israeli Schnitzel

Classic Israeli Schnitzel

One of our favorite foods is the Classic Israeli Schnitzel – a chicken cutlet breaded and fried to perfection.

Baba Ganoush

Effortless and Enticing Baba Ganoush Recipe

Baba Ganoush is generally served before a meal in Israel as an appetizer or as an afternoon snack.

Chicken & Matzah Ball Soup

The Best Chicken & Matzah Ball Soup

Chicken & Matzah Ball Soup is the bedrock on which meals are made and often the catalyst to curing colds.

Kreplach Jewish Dumplings

Homemade Kreplach Jewish Dumplings

Kreplach are tasty “Jewish-style” meat or dairy-filled dumplings. These delicious dumplings can be fried or boiled and eaten plain or in soup.


The Best Traditional Shabbat Challah Recipe

In our opinion, this is the best Challah Recipe there is, whether you’ve baked 1,000 or if this is your 1st. We’ve refined this easy recipe for years.

Traditional Hamin Recipe

Traditional Hamin Recipe

Typically served on Shabbat, Hamin is a delicious meal from Sephardi & Mizrahi culture. With beef or chicken, this meal is perfect for Shabbat.

Traditional Cholent Recipe

Traditional Cholent Recipe

Typically served on Shabbat, you’ll have your friends and family clamoring for a bit of this not-too-complex Traditional Cholent Recipe.

Baharat & Hawaij

Homemade Hawaij Recipe

The mix is used in soups, stews, curry-style dishes, rice and veggie dishes, and this Homemade Hawaij Recipe can be used for a unique flavor on all.