Dish #4: Israeli Turkey Schnitzel with Israeli Salad

When I was looking into the cuisine of Israel, I wasn’t really expecting to find something like this, mainly because I make something similar all the time! This is probably among the easiest of the dishes I will make for this blog and is perfect for a weeknight dinner. My one-year-old loved it… well, as much as she could eat without all her molars.

Schnitzel was brought to Israel by the Jews of Central Europe when the State of Israel was in its beginning stages. At the time, veal (which is the main component of Weinerschnitzel) was unavailable in the region so Turkey was a widely available and inexpensive substitute. The main difference between weinerschnitzel and the Israeli adaptation is the lack of butter. To keep with kashrut laws, the dairy and the meat cannot mix, so oil is only used. Sometimes the seasonings are changed up a bit, for example Yemenite Jews add the seasoning hawaij, which incidentally is what I did as well.

Everywhere I looked for this recipe, all the commentary proved that this is a very common dish in Israel. Paired with an Israeli salad, it makes for a great dinner.  All you need is a quick Google search and you will find all sorts of recipes for both the schnitzel and the salad. They are all very basic with a few changes here and there depending on who is making it.  Here is what I did based on my readings of other recipes:

Heat canola oil over medium heat in a big skillet. You don’t need much, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan with about 1/2″ oil.
In a bowl mix together: 1 cup panko bread crumbs, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp garam masala*
In a separate bowl, beat 2 eggs.
Working one at a time, dip chicken or turkey cutlets** in the egg and then in the breadcrumb mixture.
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Add the cutlets to the hot oil and pan fry about 4-5  minutes on each side, depending on thickness. Mine were about 1/4″ thick so it didn’t take long at all.
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*I didn’t have all the ingredients needed for hawaij, but the garam masala has pretty much the same ingredients so I used it. It may not make this traditional, but it was yummy!
**You can also buy chicken or turkey breasts and butterfly them. Trader Joes sells turkey cutlets that are perfect for this.

While the meat is cooking you can put the salad together. This is hard for me to give you an exact recipe because I only made enough for one. The thing with this salad is you need to eat it right away because the oil and lemon juice will wreak havoc on the cucumber and it will not taste good. You can always chop the veggies and add the dressing later.

1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped cucumbers
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (everywhere I look says green, but I used yellow because it looks so nice)
pinch of salt and pepper to taste
juice of half a lemon
stream in olive oil so it’s dressed to your liking. Some people like more, some like less

I’ve seen people add green onions, mint, garlic, but this seems to be the most traditional.

This is definitely something I can see myself making again. It was really quick and easy, which is important for a working mom like myself, and most importantly, it was delicious!

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