|Main ingredients||Tomato, cucumber|
|Cookbook: Israeli salad Media: Israeli salad|
Israeli salad (Hebrew: סָלָט יְרָקוֹת יִשְׂרְאֵלִי, salat yerakot yisraeli, "Israeli vegetable salad") is a chopped salad of finely diced tomato and cucumber. "Distinguished by the tiny diced tomatoes and cucumbers," it is described as the "most well-known national dish of Israel" and is a key part of a traditional Israeli breakfast.
In Israel, it is most commonly referred to as salat yerakot (Hebrew: סָלָט יְרָקוֹת, "vegetable salad"), salat katzutz (Hebrew: סָלָט קָצוּץ, "chopped salad") and salat aravi (Hebrew: סָלָט עֲרָבִי, "Arab salad").
Israeli salad is made of chopped raw tomato and cucumber, and can also include pepper, onion, carrot, scallion, leafy greens and parsley. The salad is dressed with either fresh lemon juice or olive oil, or both. Za'atar and yogurt are very common dressings at breakfast while sumac and tahini are common the rest of the day. Generally, the cucumbers are not peeled. The key is using very fresh vegetables and chopping them as finely as possible. The ability to chop the tomatoes and cucumbers into the "finest, most perfect dice" is considered a mark of status among many kibbutz cooks.
In Israeli restaurants and cafes, Israeli salad is served as an independent side dish, as an accompaniment to main dishes, or stuffed in a pita with falafel or shawarma. It was part of the traditional Israeli breakfast at home before Western-style breakfast cereals became popular, and remains a standard feature at buffet breakfasts at Israeli hotels, as well as in many homes.
The origins of the Israeli salad are traced by Gil Hovav, Israeli food editor and chef, to a Palestinian and Arab salad. He states that, "this salad that we call an Israeli Salad, actually it’s an Arab salad, Palestinian salad….” The idea that what is known in New York delis as "Israeli salad" is actually "Palestinian rural salad" is also agreed on by Joseph Massad, a Palestinian professor of Arab Politics at Columbia University, as one example of the adoption of Palestinian and pan-Syrian foods by Israel. Adopted from the Arab cuisine and popularized in Israel by the kibbutzim, variations on the basic recipe have been made by the different Jewish communities to immigrate to the country. For example, Jews from India prepare it with the addition of finely chopped ginger and green chili peppers, North African Jews may add preserved lemon peel and cayenne pepper, and Bukharan Jews chop the vegetables extremely finely and use vinegar, without oil, in the dressing.
Other similar chopped salads found in the Middle East, include the Persian salad shirazi سالاد شيرازي (which includes mint, diced onions, and peeled cucumbers), and the Turkish choban salad; among others found throughout the eastern Mediterranean area in Turkey, Lebanon, and Egypt. The Indian subcontinent cuisine also includes a variant of this salad, called "kachumber".
In popular culture
- The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York, Claudia Roden, Knopf, 1996, p. 248
- Israel, Jill DuBois and Mair Rosh, Marshall Cavendish Pub., 2003 . p. 130
- "Jerusalem Diaries II: What's Really Happening in Israel, Judy Lash Balint. Published by Xulon Press, 2007. p. 259
- Los Angeles Times: "A Salad for This Season" May 28, 1992
- The Israeli Food Guide
- A Salad Palette from Smitten Kitchen
- Mouth Wide Open: A Cook and His Appetite, John Thorne, Tor/Forge, 2007, p. 190
- "This salad that we call an Israeli salad, actually it's an Arab salad, Palestinian salad." BBC Cooking in the Danger Zone: Israel and Palestinian Territories, Page 6
- Joseph Massad, "The Persistence of the Palestinian Question," in Empire & Terror: Nationalism/postnationalism in the New Millennium, Begoña Aretxaga, University of Nevada, Reno Center for Basque Studies, University of Nevada Press, 2005 p. 63
- Roden, Claudia, The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York, New York, Knopf (1997) ISBN 0-394-53258-9, pg. 248
- Authentic Iranian recipe for Salad-e Shirazi
- Houston Chronicle: Dice up a staple salad dish
- The Crime Writer, Gregg Andrew Hurwitz, by Viking, 2007, p. 219
- Israeli Backpackers and Their Society: A View from Afar, By Chaim Noy, Erik Cohen SUNY Press, 2005 p. 63
- West Side Stories, Michael D Lieberman, 2005, p. 361
- Al-Naqba (the Catastrophe): A Novel about the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, Barbara A. Goldscheider, Frog Books, 2005, p. 39 
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