“Israeli food” is an overwhelming term to sum up because Israel, as we know it today, has only been a nation since 1948. It is a young nation that has only had 60 or so years to develop its cuisine. And the first decade was spent in the poverty and simplicity of the austerity period in the 1950s. Rationing was strict, and therefore people were only focused on cooking for basic nourishment and not for pleasure or celebration. There is one food, however, that is purely Israeli -- ptitim. Also known as Israeli couscous, it was developed in the early years of the nation when rice wasn't available. So wheat was turned into something roughly resembling rice.
Israeli food today encompasses the traditions of over a hundred cultures that have been in Israel and in Palestine, or moved from the diaspora to modern-day Israel. There are foods from Bulgaria, Romania, North Africa, Yemen, Ethiopia, Georgia, the Balkans, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, and Turkey -- just to name a few. To call a dish “Israeli” can ruffle feathers when credit isn’t properly given to a dish’s country of origin; at the same time, origins are often murky or tangled. And there are Jewish culinary considerations, too, of keeping kosher, though Israeli cooking isn’t always synonymous with kosher cooking, especially in a secular city like Tel Aviv.