An Israeli meal for all: Schnitzel and Ptitim (Israeli Couscous)
When I think of one of the most classic Israeli meals, that everyone loves from young kids to their grandparents, I think of schnitzel and ptitim (otherwise known outside of Israel as Israeli couscous!). It’s easy to make, delicious (it’s deep-fried after all!), and a great lunch or dinner solution for all.
Ptitim is a source of pride for Israelis, being one of the only true goods created originally in Israel and has gained international recognition and fame.
What’s the story behind ptitim?
Every Israeli knows that ptitim is also nicknamed “Ben Gurion’s rice”. Back in the early years of the State of Israel, when David Ben Gurion was prime minister, there was a shortage of rice. As the early Israelis ate large amounts of rice, there was a need to find an alternative. Ben Gurion asked the management of Osem (today still one of Israel’s biggest food companies) to create a rice alternative based on wheat. In the beginning, ptitim were in the shape of rice, but over time new shapes were developed (including of course the traditional small ball shape).
Today, ptitim are a favorite kids meal, a perfect base for a salad, a side dish for a meat meal, and so much more.
When making ptitim, I love to play around with different flavors and different toppings and additions. For example, throw in some Kalamata olives and sun-dried tomatoes for a great salad. As a side dish, Israelis love to add onions and to cook in tomato paste for a tomato-like sauce full of flavor. Almost everything goes well with ptitim!
Ptitim/Israeli couscous recipe
Making Israeli couscous is easy. All it takes is a bag of ptitim, oil, water, some spices and you’re good to go. I recommend reading the directions on the bag you’re using to make sure to make the ultimate ptitim.
1 cup ptitim
1 tbsp. oil
Salt to taste
1 ¼ cups water
- Fry ptitim and salt/spices for a minute in oil of your choice
- Add 1 ¼ cups boiling water (for each cup of ptitim). Bring to a boil.
- Turn down the heat, partially cover the pot and cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After 6 minutes, turn off the heat and let sit for another few minutes.
Schnitzel: Fried chicken Israeli style
What can I say about schnitzel? It’s amazing, it’s delicious, it’s crispy and so so good. Schnitzel is the Israeli version of fried chicken or chicken nuggets, a favorite among Israeli children, teens, and adults. While schnitzel didn’t originate in Israel (the original comes from Vienna and is made of veal), chicken schnitzel in Israel today has become widely popular and a family favorite.
Almost every restaurant in Israel has schnitzel on the menu. While various versions exist, my favorite is the traditional version that I love making at home for my kids (and myself of course!).
Traditional chicken schnitzel includes topping the chicken breast with egg, dipping in bread crumbs, and then deep-frying. Some Israelis like to change up the topping and use cornflakes (yes, yes, cornflakes) or even bisli grill snack for a super crunchy schnitzel. Another option is to add additional tastes into the egg, such as mustard or spices, to give the schnitzel a nice twist. If you’re looking to change the way you serve your schnitzel, try it in a pita!
Once your schnitzel is ready, eat it together with your ptitim and an Israeli salad for the perfect Israeli meal!
- Prepare your work surface by preparing a shallow bowl with one egg, mixed with a pinch of salt and mustard (optional). In a separate shallow bowl, add breadcrumbs.
- In a pan, heat oil for frying the schnitzel (should be approximately one inch high)
- Dip each piece of chicken breast into the egg, making sure to coat all parts. Afterward, move to the breadcrumb bowl and coat thoroughly.
- Add coated chicken pieces to the hot oil and fry well on both sides.
- Remove from heat and place on a paper towel.
- Serve warm together with your ptitim!
- Tip: If you have leftovers, freeze them and heat them afterward in your air fryer/toaster oven!
You can’t go wrong with an Israeli schnitzel/ptitim meal!
Want to read more of my favorite Israeli recipes? Check these out: