Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Israel’s New Food Craze is Chocolate Shawarma

Chicken shawarma in a pita or laffa is one of Israel’s hottest street foods, so, naturally, someone had to come up with a chocolate dessert alternative

By: Daniel Koren

Published: February 6th, 2014 in News » Israel

Shawarma will never be the same again.

In cities like Toronto and New York, where multiculturalism thrives, ethnic platters like shawarma, falafel, Jerusalem mix, shish kebob, served with hummus, tahini, eggplant salads, pickles and such, are somewhat commonplace; however, anyone who has made aliyah, gone on Birthright, or simply visited family in Israel, will tell you that, despite what Me va Me or Dr. Laffa might suggest, it doesn’t compare to the real stuff back home.

And of course, when it comes to Middle Eastern-fused foods, the fads simply do not start here, though they do reach here, inevitably. Case and point, sabich – the delicious eggplant-based sandwich – has been #trending for years in Israel (my favourite spot is on the corner of Dizengoff and Frishman), but was only introduced to us fairly recently.

Now, the latest food craze has hit Israel, one that I sorely hope will arrive here much sooner than later: chocolate shawarma.

Also known as a Choco-Kebab, chocolate shawarma fuses everyone’s favourite Israeli street meet with the other Israeli craze, chocolate. If you’ve been to Max Brenner, you know what I’m talking about.

Choco-Kebabs (though the photo is more than enough to sell me) ditch the chicken rotating on the stick for layers of milk and white refrigerated chocolate. Sprinkle the chocolate shavings into a pita-crepe, thicker than a French crepe and reminiscent of the laffa, and, instead of hummus, add halva, marshmallows, dulce de leche, adashim (chocolate candies), chocolate sauce, whipped cream, nuts, granola, and voila! A delectable Choco-Kebab.

It’s interesting to note that the man who brought this concoction to Israel, Oded Cohen, wasn’t influenced after eating a shawarma in a laffa and had a sudden epiphany; he simply saw a rotating chocolate stick in Sicily, and vowed to bring it home.

“The Choco-Kebab is an Italian concept and it is catching on in many different countries,” Cohen said in an interview with Tablet. “It’s very popular in Turkey and Lebanon and we’re going to make it a hit in Israel.”

‘Hit’ seems to be an understatement. Since opening the first branch in Jerusalem only four months ago, three more branches have popped up, with a reported twelve more to appear in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Rishon LeZion.

“The Shawarma part of course is just a gimmick, but it’s a great dish for chocolate lovers,” adds Cohen. “It’s abundant in calories and not great for a diet, but it’s unbelievably delicious!”

I’m sure it is. Now, Mr. Cohen, that you’ve conquered Israel, maybe Toronto’s next?

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