What Kind of Food do They Eat In the Holy Land?

The food eaten during Biblical times and modern days has changed over the years. Most of the modern-day recipes have been passed on for generations. Find out about the best food in Jerusalem.

By Carmen Slabbert
Edited by Taj Schlebusch

Published November 22, 2021.

Israel is known for food such as hummus, falafel, shawarma, and shakshuka. Many of these foods are plant-based foods as the laws prohibit the use of particular meat. Remember that due to the differences in the times, Jesus' food was not the same. Foods eaten during Biblical times were bread, wine, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Sometimes they would have included some dairy products, fish, and certain meats.

What Foods Were Eaten in Jesus' Time?

Jesus and his disciples mainly had a clean, plant-based diet. In Ancient Israel, most of their food recipes would have included lentils, grains, fruits, vegetables, dates, nuts and fish, and even grasshoppers and crickets for snacks.

With the unavailability of refrigerators and stoves, most of the food was eaten raw. Except that the laws prohibited certain kinds of meat, the people did not eat red meat and poultry too much as they had no means of keeping it fresh.

What Is Traditional Israeli Food?

Some of the top things to eat in Jerusalem is:

  • Hummus is made from chickpeas, tahini, lemon, and spices that are pureed in a blender.
  • Tahini is a paste made from pureed, toasted sesame seeds, lemon, garlic, and olive oil.
  • Falafel is a ball or patty made from a mixture of grounded chickpeas or fava beans, fresh herbs, and spices.
  • Shakshuka is poached eggs in tomato sauce, olive oil, peppers, onion, and garlic. It is usually spiced with cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper.
  • Israeli salad is made from tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, and zaatar. It is used in a pita with falafel or as a side dish.
  • Shawarma is thin cuts of meat that are packed on a rotisserie. It is then sliced and served on a pita.
  • Sabich is fried eggplant, egg, hummus, Israeli salad, mango pickle, and other condiments that are served in a pita.

All of these are considered to be the best foods from Jerusalem and have been passed on for generations. Modern days there are added to and taken away from these recipes. Things like eating meat are not as big of a deal as it was in Ancient Jerusalem.