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israel

Jerusalem - Powerfully Multipolar

Jerusalem - Powerfully Multipolar

Indeed, isn't a place nothing but its people? If so, I would say, Jerusalem has a multiple personality disorder!

While in Tel Aviv, I perceived a frenzied energy that served as a the steam outlet of all that pent up tension, here life was rather unremarkably normal on the surface. Despite the looming presence of the Western Wall and all its emotions, that even as an utter outsider with no ties, I was overwhelmed by! One of the defining moments of my trip to the country was at the Western Wall.

As I walked to the wall, at one point, I felt overtaken by a dense wave of energy - an incredibly sad one. And, I found myself uncontrollably crying, tears streaming down my cheeks without control, even as my brain was trying to make sense of what was happening.

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Sweet Potato and Kale Latkes

Sweet Potato and Kale Latkes

In the last year, I think I have learnt more about judaism and jewish-ness than in the last ten years! Last year around this time, I made my first ever visit to the contentious region of the Middle East. Starting from Israel, I then traveled to Turkey with the ability to compare the cultures across three distinct yet related religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

I just wanted to tell you what I was thinking when I made these Sweet Potato and Kale Latkes over the Hannukah period. Ironically, the coincidence was unconscious. Now, I see how my seemingly irrational mind rationally drove my actions. :)

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Sour Green Shakshuka

Sour Green Shakshuka

Simply put, it is a twist on the Shakshuka, with the basic ingredients of onion, garlic and tomatoes. And, then taken to the next level with fresh swiss chard and the tang from tamarind! Fried eggs on top and a sprinkle of fresh basil, it is not only soulful but decidedly unique as well! I love dishes that have a strong tradition and yet can be easily adapted to what is on hand. That is typically how people cooked. The original is always beloved but the new spins are just as exciting...

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Tel Aviv, Israel - The 'NOW' City

Tel Aviv, Israel - The 'NOW' City

The pulse buzzes. The adrenalin rushes. Beauty abounds. The senses are in superlative. It is sexy. It is stylish. It is downright fascinating.

As my first exposure to Israel, Tel Aviv set the pace and tone for the time spent in the country. After spending a week in different parts of the country, I can easily say this is one place that beckons me back with the promise of more. Ostensibly, I was there to sample the cuisine and the food. But, what is food without culture and people?! Set against the interesting collage that makes the culture of Israel, food in Tel Aviv stands as an extroversion of its outlook and history.

It is without any hesitation an invigorating and entirely intriguing city. Not only does it offer the best landscape to study the congruence of diverse ethnicities, it does so with a remarkably calm composure. Given the geo-dynamics of the region, calm is hardly an adjective you would expect to connect with this experience. Yet, on the surface of this city, in the faces and lives of the people who live here, you only see a sheen of unruffled normalcy.

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A Druze experience in Israel

A Druze experience in Israel

The high point of my recent trip to Israel was an evening spent in a Druze home, sipping tea, learning about their life and beliefs and of course, delighting in some amazing home made delicacies.

 

Arranged through Galil Eat, our guide was Paul himself, who runs a supper club of sorts. Paul arranges up close and personal experiences in Israeli homes in the Galilee region, where one can be immersed into the hosts' culture through food and conversation. You get a lot of information about their life while enjoying a wonderful at-home culinary experience. Talking to Paul I realized there are several religious and ethnic minority groups that live and love Israel. He arranged for an evening with the Druze community and cuisine in the home of Pinina (and her daughter Rana).

The fact is, this was not my first experience with Druze. One of my favorite and oft frequented lunch spots in NYC is Gazala Place, which, as it happens serves Druze cuisine. Not that I had noticed the tiny print stating that on their menus. The spark of connection was ignited during the tea when we were served their distinctive 'pita'.

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