How a growing food trend is bringing flavors of the Israeli shuk to your kitchen
The classic outdoor market in Jerusalem brings rich flavor and color to the city. And thanks to one company, these flavors and colors can be yours to savor.
Gabriella Lazerowitz, the founder of All Shuk Up, traveled to Israel many times. And she – along with family, friends, and neighbors became hooked on the exotic spices, teas, and dried fruit available in Jerusalem’s bustling, colorful Shuk (market) – also known as Mahane Yehuda.
As the popularity of Israeli food exploded, Lazerowitz figured there must be a way to tap into that market and offer U.S. consumers a taste of the Shuk in their own kitchens, without having to step foot on a plane (or learn the ancient art of bartering, a time-honored tradition in Mahane Yehuda).
“We scoured the Shuk to find manufacturers whose aim was to enable consumers to create amazing dishes that leave you wanting more," Lazerowitz told From The Grapevine, "and we found them.” She called the business All Shuk Up, and after a few emails and Facebook posts, sales took off.
“Our most popular items are pomegranate, raspberry and hibiscus tea, mango balls (no sugar added), bbq banana chips, our unique House Spice, and all of the mixed toppers – white, blueberry almond, and za’atar pesto.”
After discovering All Shuk Up, I was excited to give their products a try. I ordered all of the topping blends, dried fruit I had never seen in the U.S., and samples of some of the exotic-sounding teas and spices. Opening the box released the most amazing fragrance – like nothing I had ever smelled before, and we dug into our goodies tasting the dried fruit, and opening and smelling all of the spice blends.
One of my favorites was the mango balls, which are a nod to cherry sours with their round shape and chewy candy-like texture, but completely natural and with a tart-sweet mango flavor. The silan banana chips were gorgeous striped curls with a sweet, crunchy bite – I plan to use them as a garnish on cupcakes for a special occasion (if I can keep them for that long!).
The lychee tea was quite unique in its flavor and absolutely divine – it had a gentle floral, fruity flavor and a natural sweetness (no need for added sweetener). I’ve never tasted anything like it, and when I got to the bottom of my mug, I scooped up all the soft lychee bits and ate those, too. Lazerowitz says some of her customers use the dried fruit bits that are meant to be steeped into tea as a filling for cookies or cakes – sounds like something right up my alley!
Curious if others were jumping on the bandwagon of offering products from the shuk, I did some research, and it turns out All Shuk Up has cornered the market for now. To meet demand for authentic Israeli flavors for home cooks, an Israeli couple makes condiments out of their home in New York City under the name NY Shuk, with five profiles of harissa, preserved lemons, couscous and tea-making kits, and several popular Israeli spices. Their homemade blends include shawarma, baharat, za’atar, hawaij, ground sumac berries, and ras el hanout.
Lazerowitz pointed out that Whole Foods Market predicted that Mediterranean food would be a leading cuisine in 2018, and by all appearances, it appears they were correct.
If you’re ready for a taste of the Israeli shuk, I suggest you start with a glass of lychee tea, follow that up with some blueberry ricotta biscuits topped with authentic almond pesto, and oatmeal cookies made with pomegranate, raspberry and hibiscus tea bits. You can thank me later.
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