Monday, 22 April 2013

  Netanya and Yossi’s Felafel in Pitta 

So we arrive in Israel to visit our lovely elderly relatives. It’s always a worry how they will look, after all they are both in their nineties – will the experience be traumatic? Will they be pleased to see us? Will they like our presents chosen in Wales and brought out of a land of leaden skies to the bright blue haze of an Israeli beach. And most of all how will we cope when it’s time to say goodbye – that absolute separation just days later? 
            Yes it was tough emotionally but we loved and laughed and enjoyed and hugged and made the connection of family with family and when we left yes, with tears it was good and we were glad we’d made the effort.
            But this year there was another huge bonus. We met Yossi who runs the tiny falafel bar in Shmuel Hanazif.

After a morning talking to my aunt we popped out for a falafel to the brightness of a sun-drenched bustling street. Shmuel Hanazif is a busy active hub of Netanya neighbourhood life. It houses a taxi service, one bookshop that specialises in Russian books and jigsaws even a cardboard Kremlin plus a couple of interesting fashion shops with large nightdresses swinging in the breeze. Just two doors away lies a tiny falafel bar surrounded by a few metal tables and chairs. Not elegant. No one would call Yossi’s falafel house glamorous. BUT it is always clean and busy with locals. They know what’s good. He makes you welcome with a crooked smile and gives one woman a falafel in her hand while she waits as she’s too starving to stand and just look. Yossi patiently listens to ‘hot sauce, no hot sauce but double salad – no onions –plenty of onions but no hummus,’ the varieties are endless and he smiles through it all.
And there’s more. Apart from the golden fragrant falafel balls, crisp and golden on the outside but tender and soft when tasted, it’s the magical envelope – the pitta that lovingly holds the ingredients. Yossi makes pitta bread pillow-soft and fluffy. We taste and taste again. We cannot believe the glorious texture. If that isn’t enough he shmears them with hummus and techina, a drop of hot sauce, then chopped onions, cabbage salad, grated pickled cucumber, tomato and cucumber salad. More and more flavours are jammed into these fluffy parcels. And to add to the already generous packed pittas laid out on an immaculate stand, are pickles of all types to add as you please and often purloined by hungry customers standing in queues.

Everything is washed down with ice cold drinks from a tiny fridge and well; it works.  
We watch as he scoops a bowl of mixture with a miniature ice cream type scoop plucking golf-ball sized golden balls which he plunges into hot oil. They drop and rise bubbling and golden and then he briskly shakes them into a metal bowl. They are then lovingly added to Yossi’s wonderful pitta with absolute pride.   

We are desperate to know and at last we ask,
‘How do you make them soo fluffy? How do you manage to get that soft texture?
  And joy of joys – he offers to give us the recipe for you to try!!!!!!!!!
What a thrill!

Yossi’s Magical Pitta

1 Kilo plain Flour
700ml warm water – the temperature of your hand
2 tablespoons of fast dried yeast
½ cup oil
3 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar

The process is more or less the same as any bread. The dough is all combined together in a mixer and it is quite wet. It is worked well and then left to prove until it really rises. Then beaten down and made into balls which have to rise again. These are then patted down and baked as hot as possible with heart from above and below – we are trying to crack that part of the process.

We can’t wait to have a go. Why not try it and let us know how you manage. Remember a wet dough makes a light bread. Good luck and thank you to Yossi. We love you x 

And when you are in Netanya visit Yossi’s falafel bar and taste that glorious blend of soft and crunchy spice and creamy – the perfect vegetarian Israeli meal created by Yossi with love and pride. 


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