Israeli shawarmas are the best: Chef Shaul Ben-Aderet

Shawarma, falafel, and hummus are some dishes that have become extremely popular on menus across the globe. However, little is talked about their origins. “Shawarmas have become popular all over the world. We have Turkish shawarma, Lebanese shawarma, Indian shawarma but I think Israeli shawarmas are the best,” says renowned Israeli chef Shaul Ben-Aderet, who flew down to India to present a traditional Israeli spread of cuisines to mark the 76th Israel Independence Day. 

On Indian versions of shawarmas, he says they are very different from the Israeli ones. “The spices and serving styles are entirely different.” The chef also has a vegetarian shawarma in his menu for vegetarians. “I make it from red cabbage, celery, beetroot and slow cook it for 2-3 hours. But I use the same spices as I use in the chicken shawarma, hence it tastes better than the meat shawarma,” says the chef. 

Ben-Aderet, along with a team of six chefs, presented more than 25 traditional Israeli dishes for a guest list of 1,000 people at the Independence Day celebration by the Embassy of Israel in India. Frikase, spinach bourekas, fish shawarma, corn polenta, kugel, hummus, ptitim, shakshuka, chraime, beetroot salad, okra, were some Israeli preparations by the chef for the event. 

He says, “We Israelis love a good fresh salad in the morning. We chop all vegetables and add some lemon juice and olive oil to it.” He adds shawarmas are his personal favourite too. The chef says it took him around three days to prepare the dishes for the event and that they sourced ingredients and some sauces from Israel to retain the local flavours including the sweet date sauce called silan and za’atar, a herb mixture used in various dishes.  

This is not the first time he has been to the capital city. The chef recalls having visited Delhi 15 years ago but calls it a “mysterious experience” as he did not understand the markets and the local areas. “Delhi has changed in these 15 years. It is a lot more modern now but it is also hotter.”