Wandering Mahane Yehuda Market, Jerusalem & A Super Authentic Hummus Recipe: Guest Post by Katherine Martinelli

Katherine Marinelli is a super pleasant and talented food and travel writer, photographer and a self proclaimed wanderer. Only this native New Yorker's wanderings took her across the Atlanic east of the USA while I went the opposite direction. Hailing out of the Israeli Southern dessert city called Beer Sheva she is a welcome addition to the Israeli series. Katherine's  bourekas photo was recently featured in Nov. 2011 Food and Wine magazine's The World’s Best Cities for Street Food she was also featured in Women's Health magazine and a fellow The Jew and the Carrot contributor you can read about all of her credentials here. Please follow Katherine on twitter @MartinelliEats and like her page on FB so happy to have her on board!

Wandering Mahane Yehuda Market
If you’ve been to Israel then chances are you’ve at least passed through Mahane Yehuda, Jerusalem’s bustling shuk, or market. The vibrant colors, intoxicating smells, and distinct sounds provide a sensory summary of Israel in a nutshell. It’s with good reason that Mahane Yehuda is the main culinary artery of the city, the place locals come to for deals and chefs visit for inspiration. While I don’t live in Jerusalem, I make the hour and a half trek regularly, and no trip is complete without a stop at the market.
Mahane Yehuda has been around since the late 1800s and underwent much needed renovations in the 1980s, transitioning from a seedy, unsanitary market to the tourist destination it is today. And now it is home to more than 250 (some figures say 600!) vendors hawking everything from produce and olives to spices and halva. The market also houses an increasing number of high-end fromageries, bakeries, restaurants, specialty stores and more.
I love to wander the winding, crowded alleys of the shuk to see what’s in season. Although the market is relatively small, it’s somehow easy to get lost in its belly. A turn here will direct you into the Iraqi shuk, for instance, while a turn in another direction leads you to a little square known as the Georgian Market. It took me many visits to the market before I stumbled on this little area.
Untold culinary treasures lie in Mahane Yehuda. The best burekas I’ve ever eaten can be found at Chokmat Haburekas Mehaifa, which translates roughly as “Burekas from the Wisdom of Haifa.” Here they use oil instead of margarine, and their huge burekas are flaky perfection. To satisfy my sweet tooth I head to Marzipan Bakery, which has been around since 1986 and has a loyal following for good reason: their gooey chocolate rugelach are out of this world. And the variety of halva at the Halva Kingdom is unbeatable. Even people who claim not to like halva can’t help but fall in love with their crumbly rendition.
I often return to Be’er Sheva loaded up with cheese from Basher Fromagerie. Their selection of fine local and imported cheeses is unreal, and their knowledgeable staff help you pick out the perfect cheese for any occasion.
For a truly Israeli experience, there is nothing like the shuk on a Friday market. The energy at the already bustling market is amped up even further as shoppers prepare for the impending Shabbat, when everything shuts down and people retreat to their homes. It’s common practice to sit outside on Friday mornings and catch up with friends over bowls of hummus. Even if you can’t make it to Mahane Yehuda, you can make some killer hummus at home to bring a little bit of Israel to you.

The secret to amazing hummus is starting with dried instead of canned chickpeas. Yes, this requires soaking them overnight in 1 tablespoon baking soda and then simmering them for a few hours, but it’s mostly hands off. Also, use the best quality tahini you can find. This recipe makes a ton of hummus and can easily be halved as well. Use within a week and store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Basher Fromagerie
53 Etz Hayim Street

Chokmat Haburekas Mehaifa
Mahane Yehuda 24, Jerusalem
Tel: 02-6242256

Halva Kingdom
10 & 72 Etz Haim
Tel: 054-7936805

Marzipan Bakery
Agrippas 14, Jerusalem
Tel: 02-6232618

Adapted from The New Book of Israeli Food by Janna Gur

500 grams small dry chickpeas
1 tablespoon + ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup raw tahini
Juice of 2 lemons
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped parsley or cilantr
¼ cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon cumin

Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water plus 1 tablespoon baking soda. Allow to soak overnight, or at least 8 hours (do not refrigerate).

Drain and rinse the chickpeas and put them in a pot. Add water until it comes 1-inch above the chickpeas. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon baking soda and bring to a boil (watch the pot as the baking soda can cause the water to foam and boil over). Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 2 to 3 hours, until the chickpeas are very tender. Cool slightly and drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid.

Reserve at least ½ cup of the chickpeas. Put the remaining chickpeas in a food processor and add 2/3 cup tahini, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and garlic and process until smooth. If the paste is too thick (it will be) add some of the reserved cooking liquid. Taste and season with additional tahini, lemon juice, and salt as needed until the desired taste and consistency is reached.

Put some of the hummus into a bowl. Pull a spoon around the middle in a circle to create a little trough. Drizzle with olive oil and top with reserved chickpeas plus parsley, onion, and cumin. Serve immediately with fresh pita for dipping.


  1. I would love to visit that market someday :) thanks so much for sharing your experience, photos and recipe. Hummus is one of my favorite snacks, the recipe I use is similar to this one :)

  2. I'm with yuri! I would love to visit the market! Lovely guest post, so well described! I use a similar recipe but have never made it with baking soda!

  3. Thank you for taking us there virtually! I would love to visit this bustling shuk on a Friday to get the awesome experience!

    I love garbanzo beans! In fact, when I was a little girl, our cook tried to ban me from the kitchen when chickpeas are being prepared for meals. I'll keep on eating them. Just on their own. Boiled with a little salt.

    Will have to make this soon.

  4. I can only imagine just how fascinating it is the hummus looks so tasty :)

  5. Katherine, I love seeing you here. Your adventures make me want to strap on my backpack and start traveling again. This hummus looks fantastic - definitely one to try.

  6. Hey there.. Great post , great pictures

  7. That book sounds really interesting! I love a good hummus and this one looks amazing.



  8. Thank you so much for having me on your gorgeous blog Shulie! I'm so honored :-D

  9. Katherine,
    Loved reading your adventures - hopeful to visit Yehuda Market some day :)

    Thanks for featuring another talented wanderer :)

  10. You make me want to get my passport and head to Isreal! I just love everything about this post!

  11. Borekas without margarine? That is something I'll have to try!

  12. Thanks so much for your post! One of my favorite places in Israel is Machene Yehuda - and the Marzipan rogelach and vanilla ecalirs are scary good. I haven't tasted anything like them anywhere in the world! I also love the Pereg store where you can get loose tea in fragrant varieties. I'm looking forward to my next trip...thanks for bringing back some amazing memories!

  13. great writeup ! very interesting, yummy recipe too :)

  14. Great. post! You need a post about halva! I LOVE THAT STUFF

  15. I've heard about Mahane Yehuda from my friends who travel to Israel. I'd love to go there someday. Thanks for giving us a peek and this terrific hummus recipe, Katherine and Shulie! I'm soaking chickpeas now :)

  16. Hi Shulie! I'm here from Katherine's blog. I agree, Katherine is a great writer and I enjoy her every post. She definitely opened my eyes to the new cuisines. Thank you for the guest post!

  17. What a treasure trove of culinary experiences! I would love to visit and experience it myself one day!

  18. You make me want to travel and try more cultures...starting with this hummus, yum!

  19. what a wonderful post! i cant wait to visit mahane yehuda market myself! and that hummus looks so good.

  20. Thank you so much for this beautiful trip! I hope that some day I can be there for real. Hummus is one of our favorite thing to have and always have a bowl in my refrigerator. Wonderful.

  21. One of my favorite things is to visit markets wherever we go - one of these days I hope I get to visit this one! For now, I guess I'll just have to make this hummus and pretend!

  22. Hi Katherine-The Mehane Yehuda Market looks incredible and your photos make me want to visit it soon:)Your hummus is delicious. Another lovely guest post, Shulie:)

  23. Katherine,
    As usual your posts are mezmerizing!
    How fun to shop and explore in the shuk!
    Israel is such a great country, and you really bring it alive with your fabulous photography.

  24. Great guest post, Katherine, and wonderful pictures! Anyone visiting Israel should not miss Mahane Yehuda Market.

  25. Hi Katherine,
    It's so beautiful the way you tell a story and your photos are amazing. I wish I could just throw some stuff in my back back and come to visit the market.
    Thanks for featuring her on your blog Shulie.

  26. Katherine was right - you do have a beautiful blog! I can't wait to make this delicious looking hummus - I do make my own hummus but the one thing I've never added is onion and I really like the fact that this recipe doesn't call for much oil! Thanks! I'll look forward to checking out your blog in more detail!

  27. Having spent many a Friday at Chummusiot, the unmistakably Israeli eateries that serve Hummus and Hummus alone, I came away from my years in Israel with a hankering for their light and airy renditions of the stuff. Not that the Sabra of the world don't have a place. But the heavy hummus is simply not the stuff Israelis go crazy for. The method you describe above will not produce that smooth and fluffy product. By using the food processor to break down the chickpeas, you will not get the smallest granules to a paste. They will remain rather chunky, making the resultant mixture far heavier. Instead, I'd recommend using a good blender. You may have to add a bit more of the reserved chickpea cooking liquid and will certainly have to be a bit more involved in the blending process by working the food around with a spatula. Nevertheless, the results are worth the additional effort and entirely different from the hummus you thought you knew.

  28. I've gotten the light an airy consistency with the food processor. I've blended when the chickpeas are cold and when they are hot. Both have produced great results. I have found there to be five keys for really smooth hummus, 3 of which you can find in Katherine's post. 1) start with small dried chickpeas, 2) baking soda when soaking and cooking, 3) cook a LONG time, 4) press (or better yet, microplane) the garlic before adding it to the food processor, and 5) "cream" the tahini paste by whisking it with cooking liquid and the lemon juice before adding it to the food processor. As far as I can tell, that is what the best hummusiot are doing.

  29. I have been searching for so long for a great Hummus! I have made some alright ones but still have not found one that I absolutely love. I am excited to try this recipe and see how it compares to the others. I appreciate your time for posting this recipe and for being willing to share it! It is so hard to find good, healthy recipes that people will share with you! Thank you Katherine Martinelli!