You might think that most markets in Tel Aviv sell only olives (fresh or canned), cucumber, bread, and chicken, which in my opinion, are staples in Israeli’s food diets. They got a lot more – especially in Carmel Market Tel Aviv.
Israelis love spices and herbs. This is evident in the countless stalls in Carmel where you can find spices of all types being sold. There is no particular stall that I go to buy my crushed red peppers and peppercorns. Most of them however sell these spices at 5 to 6 shekels per 100 grams. Other sought-after herbs and spices are mint, saffron, paprika, and ginger.
Cheeses are loved in this country. And all of them can be found in Shuk HaCarmel. There are goat’s cheese, white yoghurt cheese, cottage, and Mediterranean. A particular white cheese called Gvina Levana, is widely available in the market. This one is popularly used in a number of Israeli food. It is also perfect as spread for crackers, or filling to pies such as cheesecakes and burekas. They can bought in packages or your desired weight in grams.
Oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, strawberries, apples, pear – name it, Carmel has it. Israel grows and produces a great variety of fruits for its population. Being an abundant grower, Israel also exports a good percentage of its produce, mostly to European countries. One of the most popular is the Jaffa orange, which is sold in practically all fruit stands in the market. This fruit is at the top of my list for its sweetness, and having a peel that’s so easy to remove.
I love persimmon, and have developed the habit of eating it daily. I also adore its irresistible sweetness, but want to consume one that isn’t overly ripe. Lemon is another fruit that I’d like to have in the kitchen if only for its versatile juice.
Dried fruits (dehydrated) are essential ingredients in many Israeli/Jewish foods. All the popular ones can be found in Hacarmel, such as dates, figs, raisins, and almonds. This love for dried fruits dates back to the Biblical Era, when ancient Israelites feasted on them. Israelis usually eat dried fruits, or include them in their main courses, especially when commemorating Jewish holidays, such as Tu Bishvat.
Being Asian, I need to get my fill of rice. Many Israelis also have a liking for this grain, which simply becomes tasty whenever eaten with meat stew or fried fish. In the middle of Carmel is a store, called Balagan. Here is where I buy my 5-kilo bag of jasmine rice for 40 shekels; heavy enough to carry around using my agala (wheeled bag, as a call it). If I prefer more quantity, I go to Levinsky near Tel Aviv’s Old Bus Station and buy 25-kilo rice at Dragon for 165 shekels. Great savings, indeed.
Couscous was thought of as have come from North Africa. This, along with rice, are widely available in Hacarmel. I also love couscous as a main course, as much as many Israelis do. They are great when topped with meat and sweet-tasting sauce, and an abundance of soft carrot and zucchini cuts. I want couscous with fried chicken, or spicy lamb kebab. Yumyum.
What fish can you buy in Hacarmel Market? There is denisse, St. Peter’s Fish, trout, tuna, and salmon. Incidentally, salmon head can be had in the market at truly cheap prices. You can buy a piece at 10 shekels, or two for 15. You can even have them for free so long as you purchase a kilo of tuna, or any other fish.
I love tuna head boiled enough to turn the water to an oily broth. I just need to throw in some coriander, tomatoes, and onion; sprinkle some salt; and finally, some green jalapenos for good measure. Voila! You now have an exhilaratingly tasty soup. Israelis love their fish broiled or baked, and eaten with lemon, or garlic-based sauces.
Burekas are a great delight and if you happen to chance by the market, you will surely see a number of small bake shops selling these piping-hot delicacies. I like mine filled with mushroom and onions. Other varieties of burekas have potatoes or cheese for filling. In the middle of the market is a small kiosk that serve really great-tasting burekas. I just love them with hard-boiled eggs and some salt.
Together with burekas, these bakery shops also sells pita, bagel, and all sorts of breads. For kids, delicious doughnuts are available, usually with red jelly filling. Other regular pastry fares are cheesecakes and cookies. These Israeli treats are simply the best I have ever tasted. Sweetness is just right for everyone’s taste.
Obviously, Carmel Market Tel Aviv has a lot to offer when it comes to food and…food. It is one of the best city markets to go to, especially during Friday mornings and early afternoon (before Shabbat). Come to Carmel and expect to have a great fill of all food items and delicacies that you need.