One of the best destinations for a foodie tourist visiting San Francisco, in my opinion, is Haig’s Delicacies. Founded in 1956 by an Armenian who immigrated to the U.S. from Turkey, the small family-owned shop is a prized treasure of bustling Clement Street—an off-the-path foodie neighborhood that’s really worth exploring. Haig’s carries thousands of edibles from all over the world—their spices, teas, candies, chutneys, spreads, and sauces make great gifts. They also offer a sit-down menu of delights like falafel, lahmajoun, fresh feta, incomparable hummus, and Armenian sausage sandwiches. (Perfect for breakfast, if you’re not totally egg-focused.)
It was at Haig’s that I first learned about muhammara—a traditional Syrian dip made with red peppers, walnuts, breadcrumbs, and olive oil. Versions vary, but often also include garlic, lemon juice, and pomegranate molasses. I live only two blocks from Haig’s, so there’s no reason that I needed to figure out how to make muhammara myself. After all, theirs is a family recipe passed down for generations and needs no improvement. Still, I thought it would be fun to try, and to share this recipe with those of you who don’t live a dolma’s throw from a renowned Mediterranean deli (once frequented by James Beard!).
Pomegranate molasses, by the way, is a thick, tart syrup that can be found at European markets or purchased online. It lasts for ages in the fridge even after the bottle’s been opened, and can be used in all kinds of Middle Eastern dishes—so the remainder won’t go to waste. As an alternate option, I experimented with using fresh pomegranate seeds instead of molasses in one of my batches. It was still delicious—just slightly lacked that rich, tart flavor the molasses adds. Honestly, you could even leave the pomegranate factor out altogether and the result would still be wonderful, so don’t stress if buying the molasses is a hassle and fresh poms are out of season.
Jewish recipes are the heart of every Jewish holiday celebration. There’s a special dish (or five!) for every occasion, from the high holidays to Shabbat dinners! Here are my favorite Jewish recipes for the holidays or any day.
Brisket is braised in a mixture of red wine, beef broth, dried fruit, and North African spices for a Mediterranean take on the traditional Jewish holiday dish. This recipe was adapted from a recipe by Jayne Cohen in Bon Appetit.
You can make a gluten-free version by substituting gluten-free brown rice flour for the flour. You can also jazz up the recipe by adding thinly sliced scallions or substituting sweet potatoes, parsnips, or apples for some (or all) of the potatoes. This recipe serves about 4 people and is easily doubled or tripled.
This Instant Pot hummus from scratch starts with dried chickpeas and takes less than an hour to make—and that's start to finish time. There's no need to soak the beans. The result is lush, rich, creamy, and full of flavor.
This is a great way to use up leftover cooked couscous. The dressing can be whisked together in a bowl, but is especially easy to make in a food processor—chop the parsley leaves in the processor first, then add the other ingredients and process until smooth.
Ground lamb is mixed with lots of fresh herbs, aromatics, and spices and then grilled on skewers. I like to serve these with pita bread, hummus, tzatziki, harissa or chermoula, and a salad of romaine, cucumbers, and tomatoes with lemon dressing. Brown basmati rice is a great accompaniment as well.
Pita bread is surprisingly easy to make and watching the rounds puff up in the oven is so, so satisfying. Use them for sandwiches or cut them into triangles and use them to scoop savory Middle Eastern dips like my Instant Pot Hummus, baba ganoush, or tzatziki.
This bright, fresh, kosher for Passover salad—a take on the popular Middle Eastern bread salad called fattoush—gives the plain crackers new life. Spiced, baked matzo “chips” replace the usual flat bread, but other than that, this hearty salad packs all the fresh herby, tangy, spicy flavor you expect from fattoush.
Sufganiyot are traditional Israeli jelly donuts often eaten during Hanukkah, along with other fried foods. Because, of course, fried foods celebrate the miracle of the oil! This recipe makes a simple, lightly sweetened fried dough that can be filled with jelly or the fillling of your choice and dusted with powdered sugar.
Israeli Salad, distinguished by finely diced tomatoes and cucumbers, is described (by Wikipedia) as "the most well-known national dish of Israel." Variations on the theme are limitless. Our version includes hard boiled eggs and feta cheese.