Food for Yom HaAtzma-ut

When I asked several Israeli friends how they celebrate Yom HaAtzma-ut, Israel’s Independence Day, they replied, “With a barbecue, of course!” According to Sheila Mendel of Kibbutz Ramat Hashofet, “People are barbecuing everywhere, even in the middle of the street. Our kibbutz usually has a giant barbecue, with steaks, kabobs, Israeli salad, hummous, tachina, pita and eggplant salad.

Israeli crowds feast on falafel, which is informally considered Israel’s national dish. Since falafel is deep-fried and very high in fat, here is a great alternative. Try this delicious recipe for Grilled Falafel, so you can feel culinarily connected with Israel! It comes from Faye Levy’s latest cookbook 1000 Jewish Recipes. Serve it with Tahini Sauce from my cookbook Healthy Helpings! B’tayavon!


6 large cloves garlic
1/3 cup small sprigs fresh cilantro or Italian parsley
1 medium onion
3 cups canned or cooked chickpeas, well-drained
2 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp.ground coriander
1/2 tsp.salt
1/2 tsp.pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tbsp.bread crumbs
1 large egg white

  1. Mince garlic and cilantro in food processor. Add onion to mixture in processor and mince it by pulsing. Add chickpeas, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper cayenne and bread crumbs. Process with brief pulses to a chunky puree, scraping down sides occasionally. Add egg white and process until blended. Transfer to a bowl. Mix well.
  2. Shape mixture into 8 smooth patties. Pack mixture firmly when shaping so that falafel holds together.
    Heat grill and brush with oil. Grill falafel patties over medium heat about 5 minutes per side or until slightly firm on top, turning patties over carefully with 2 spatulas. Serve hot.

Serving Suggestion Serve these the Israeli way, inside a split, very fresh pita with several spoonfuls of Israeli salad. Add pickles, hot sauce and tahini sauce.

Yield: 4 servings, 8 patties


1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
3/4 cup water
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (to taste)
salt to taste
cumin, optional

  1. Place tahini in a jar. Add water and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and shake until blended. Makes about 1 1/4 cups. Keeps about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Fat-Saving Secret! Instead of stirring tahini before you measure it, pour off oil which has risen to the top of the jar and discard it.

Order Now your copy of 1000 Jewish Recipes by Faye Levy at or