Shuk HaTikvah is not the shiny, tourist friendly market of Tel Aviv (that’s Carmel). It’s the kind of place that when I tell my Israeli friend I want to go, she looks surprised and confused. It’s not in the best neighborhood, it’s not the nicest market, it doesn’t have the gourmet ingredients. It is a neighborhood market for an immigrant area. And the market goods cater to them: diverse, affordable and homey.
Here’s what to see and eat as you wander through the wide central path and narrow side alleys of HaTikvah Market.
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Amba sauce, made from green mango fermented so long it tastes and smells like aged cheese, serves as the signature food of HaTikvah. Big vats of the brilliantly yellow shine from stalls selling the sauce. Though it hails from Iraq and likely descended from an Indian version of the sauce, Israelis have adopted it as a national favorite.
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At the Bukharan market bakery, this stall creates a variety of Central Asian breads in a walk-in oven (if you ask nicely, they might let you peek in).
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The size and shape of these unique breads call out from stacks on the tables in a side alley. Almost a foot in diameter and rising in a high dome, the shatteringly crisp round is a tradition of Bukharan Jews.
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Just at the edge of a market alleyway, in a small house off to the side, there is a man, and he makes Iraqi cookies. The sun streams through a window on the side, over tables stacked with sweets of a sorts.
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His date cookies are among the most popular, a slightly spiced dough wrapped around a filling of sticky-sweet dates
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Among the cookies he sold were these filo-dough cigars, almost like a rolled-up version of baklava.
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"These are like my mother would make," a gentleman seated next to me said. He'd brought his own son for a bite of their heritage from this Iraqi food stand. Kubbe are oversized dumplings of various types: meat or potatoes stuffed inside a grain.
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In this kubbe, meat is stuffed inside a bulgur dough.
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Similar to a thick parata or Malaysian roti, this Yemenite bread hides flaky layers under its crispy exterior. Think of malawach like a flattened croissant as you dip it in herby hot sauce and eat it with the oven-boiled egg on top.
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"The faker the red color on top, the better it is," an Israeli friend tells me of this (also) rosewater dessert. So the neon version of this cool, creamy milky pudding I picked up just outside the market proper fit the bill perfectly.