Jerusalem: A falafel a day…

…keeps the hepatologist away. Well, not exactly. Read on.

Saint Marks

I am generally not a fan of falafel. Don’t get me wrong, I have never disliked it, I just don’t see the attraction of eating something generally a bit (or a lot) dry and so obviously lacking meat.

Then I went to Israel, and I had falafel in the holy city of Jerusalem that was more amazing than I could ever have imagined it to be.

So, what is falafel?

Falafel is a traditional Arab dish of deep fried patty made from chickpeas, fava beans or both, and a mixture of spices. It is usually served in a pitta bread or wrap, or alone as part of a meze, and with tahini and harissa hot sauce.

Generally thought to have originated in Egypt as an alternative to meat during lent, falafel is a an archetypal Middle Eastern street dish.

Some countries in the Middle East serve the “McFalafel” in their McDonalds.

Falafel is now eaten all over the world and is popular with vegetarians and the health conscious for its high protein content (urm, ignoring the fact they are deep fried I guess – see very interesting study I talk about later).

Felafel

Take a look inside

Best felafel!

Best falafel for 10 NIS (about £1.60)!

I found a gem of a falafel shop – no idea what it is called, or even if it has a name – next to the hostel in which I was staying on Saint Mark’s Road in the Old City of Jerusalem, a short walk from Jaffa Gate. Selling very good value falafel and coffee, I couldn’t resist a stop.

This was the moment I was converted to the falafel. Eating with the sound of Saint Mark’s church bells ringing in the background, it was like I was having some kind of epiphany.

I ate here every day that I spent in Jerusalem. See bottom of page for directions if you want to go to this nameless tiny café! (You should, just don’t all go at once.)

Saint Marks Street

The quiet Saint Mark’s Road (you can see the shop door on the right)

Eating felafel

Tucking in; notice pleasure wrinkle on forehead

While researching for this post I came across a study in Toxicological & Environmental Chemistry from 2010: “Effect of a popular Middle Eastern food (Falafel) on rat liver.” I shall not bore you with the details, but the conclusion was that, yes, consumption of falafel as the sole source of nutrition for a long period of time can harm your liver. But, in conjunction with other food items or beverages containing high antioxidant levels it can be considered as safe.

Jeez – I am so glad that they did that study, and I bet you are glad that I have passed this nugget along to you.

Did you know…?

The current record for the heaviest ever falafel ball is  74.75 kg (yes, that is the weight of the average human) and was set on 28 July 2012 in Amman, Jordan.

How to find

Here is a link with directions to the Citadel Youth Hostel, just a few paces away from the nameless café.

Jerusalem

Narrow street of Jerusalem

Holy bagel

Although not a traditionally Israeli dish, I liked the idea of a Holy Bagel.

Jerusalem skyline

Jerusalem skyline with the Dome of the Rock, the Muslim shrine located on Temple Mount

6 Comments

Filed under Eateries, Israel, tried and tasted

6 Responses to Jerusalem: A falafel a day…

  1. I’ve never had so many falafels since commencing my stay in the middle east. I agree that they take it to another level here. I’m a vegetarian when not eating with others so it makes a nice healthy, tasty and cheap meal. I have wondered about the deep fried part though, that must be why it may be bad for the liver. I won’t worry as I’d never live only on falafels, as good as they can be, that would get boring and monotonous. :-)

    • BeccaHills

      Yes I agree they would! The hummus on the other hand… I reckon I could eat that forever.
      I have just been reading your post Flashback to India – what a treat to find a masala dosa in Riyadh!

  2. Pingback: Never eat supermarket hummus again… | global streetbite

  3. Chad Doell

    I don’t know how I found this blog post, but I’m glad I did. The little restaurant you mention is called Michael Restaurant and I ate there pretty well every day too, while staying at Citadel Hostel. The price was unbelievable and it was the best felafel I had in all Jerusalem!

    • BeccaHills

      Wow I am do glad you did! And I am so glad that you liked it as much as me!! So…where else did you eat in Jerusalem? Any other recommendations for me?!

      • Chad Doell

        Oh dear, I only realize now that you replied to my post, haha!
        Food in Jerusalem, huh? I did also eat at this little out of the way diner outside the Old city, by Jaffa gate, down an alley. They had some very nice pastas with what a remember was a very fresh, savory, satisfying tomato sauce. Typical, I guess, when fresh tomatoes are so easy to find! A friend of mine swore by that place, so we made a few stops there.

        I can’t remember the name, nor can I offer a better description of its location. I may be in Jerusalem again in the next couple weeks, so I’ll do some recon for you.

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