IchikidanaWhen I first moved to my apartment located in the heart of the Jerusalem Market, I lived above no less than 4 “Mizrachi” style bars. ach would be open till late at night and the entertainment consisted of really loud singalongs of classic Moroccan and Iraqi musical scores. At first it was kind of charming but I soon grew weary of the drunken brawls and the total absence of quiet. I was certain that if I heard another rowdy rendition of “Shalom Leh Ben Dodi” accompanied by darbouka I would kill someone…. and this is coming from someone who likes Mizrachi music. But as Jerusalem becomes safer and safer, and as random terrorism becomes a distant historical footnote, real estate values have started to escalate and my once predominantly Sephardic neighborhood has seen a growing number of paler skinned interlopers.

There are now a number of chichi bars in the ‘hood, the big growth industry here is capuccino serving cafes and while I was Thailand, one of the rowdy bars closed down and an Indian vegetarian joint rose in its stead. Now there are only 2 rowdy bars outside my window. But I am glad that my usual fare of rice stuffed peppers from Rachmo can be supplemented with the really savory, reasonably priced fare available at Ichikidana – the aforementioned Indian veggie place. Now I don’t know anything about Indian food – but whatever the hell I ate was yummy. It was a big plate of vegetable goop, rice and yogurt and this flat bread I guess they call Nan. The owners were pleasant, the service was good and I couldn’t help but notice these dirty Israeli hippies who I imagine spent a lot of time in India after their army service, nod in approval – which is a good thing because they would know, right?

So next time you’re in the shuk – give these guys a spin. They are on 4 Ha-Eshkol street just off the open shuk area by the pita guys across from Rachmo and they are Kosher Leh Mehadrin though when was the last time you saw a Haredi guy eating Indian food? I don’t know, but you can’t eat Marzipan Rugelach all the time.

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Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • There’s only one brand of Marzipan I can repeatedly enjoy. Besides that, plain marzipan is great for kitchen crafts with lil kids.

  • Marzipan, in any shape or form is delicious.

    These days the overwhelming variety of everything sweet, for instance, seem to encourage over-consumption (and overeating), rather than the development of finer taste… or so it looks like around here.

    For a poor person, WHICH [kind of marzipan] is not an issue.
    Only jaded people specialize in fine-shmeckerie – which is never the Ikar, but rather the Tafel anyway.

    That new Indian restaurant deserves a more “serious” review, IMHO.

    The gentrification of Nah’laot & the adjoining mahane-Yehuda market is quite obvious & make the whole area look better & feel safer [indeed!] than it has been in years.

    It’s also cleaner.

    I never knew Rogalach had anything to do with marzipan anyway… 🙂


  • Hi CK, we’re as pale Anglo as they come, and we LOVE muzikah mizrahit. Our last two trips to Israel we went to Flaka in Tel Aviv and saw Moshik Afia, as well as Stalos & Oren Hen. Although as Americans and Ashkenazim, we were probaby the local equivalent of the visiting Martians, it was a lot of fun, and the crowd (mostly marrieds and groups, actually) were friendly when they heard us speaking Anglit. I even once tried singing “Kol Ehad Yesh” at a karoake bar, but it was almost empty, fortunately!

    Are there bars that play Mizrahit around Mahene Yehuda? We’ll have to check them out on our next trip in 2008. Hopefully in a well-lit neighborhood!

  • Shalom Sarah,

    to be precise, here’s some History:
    Although it is believed to have originated in Persia (present-day Iran) and to have been introduced to Europe through the Turks, there is some dispute between Hungary and Italy over its origin. Marzipan became a specialty of the Baltic Sea region of Germany. In particular, the city of Lübeck has a proud tradition of marzipan manufacture (Lübecker Marzipan). The city’s manufacturers like Niederegger still guarantee their Marzipan to contain two thirds almonds by weight, which results in a juicy, bright yellow product.

    Another possible geographic origin is Toledo, Spain (850-900, though more probably 1150 during the reign of Alfonso VII, then known as Postre Regio instead of Mazapán) and Sicily (1193, known as panis martius or marzapane, i.e. March Bread)[1]. In both cases, there is a reason to believe that there is a clear Arabic influence for historical reasons[2] (both regions were under Muslim control) and there are also mentions in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights of an almond paste eaten during Ramadan and as an aphrodisiac[3]. Other sources establish the origin of marzipan in China, from where the recipe moved on to the Middle East and then to Europe through Al-Andalus[4]. In Toledo, Mazapán is also one of the city’s products. Almonds have to be at least 50% of the total weight, following the directives of Mazapan de Toledo regulator counseil[5].

    …I was brought up on the 1001 Nights
    [Eleph Layla VeLayla, as most Israelis remember] & marzipan was reputed to origin in the East. even when what we could get was Oppenheimer. All the Yekkes were waxing nostalgic about the great marzipan of Germany was…
    That was some 50-60 years ago.

    Now we look for the “Original”?!?

    Not I. Not here. Not now. 🙂

  • Why is it called “March Bread”? And, how is it different from Halvah? Isn’t that made of almonds too? The learning here is beyond belief.

    Almond extract is very good in coffee.

  • Izy, I know all those “theories” (read up on them before), but Lübeck has the only one that can actually verified by historical documents. The kind of thing we call marzipan today comes from Lübeck, there used to be something similar in the Middle East (and came to Spain with the Arabic occupation), but that was not quite like what we call marzipan. BTW, don’t rely on Wikipedia entries, no serious researcher does (some universities over here have started to fail papers that cite Wiki). The origin of the word marzipan has been topic of some discussion, but medieval sources suggest it means “bread of Marc” (in reference to a saint).

    But please don’t try to teach somebody with info taken from Wiki. Nowhere. Ever. 🙂

    JM, there are various kinds of halvah; Middle Eastern one often consists of Sesame paste.
    BTW, too many almonds can be unhealthy for kids.

  • Ummmm….I suspect that the “Marzipan” CK is referring to here is the Marzipan bakery, which makes really great baked goods, including amazing, chocolate infested, gooey rugellach. Marzipan refers to the name of the establishment, and not the rugellach fillings.

    And yes, you could eat them all the time. Whether or not you should is up for debate.


  • Correct Gila. The Marzipan bakery in maqchaneh Yehuda in Jerusalem, responsible for the expansion of countless American Yeshiva girl thighs over the years, does not sell actual Marzipan. There is no marzipan in the rugelach. I believe each individual rugelach sold there has the same amount of calories as a big Mac. Or a White Castle Slyder.

    Hey Izy: A more serious review? What do I look like a restaurant critic to you? I have pretty much only three standards when it comes to restaurants:

    1. Was the food good?
    2. Was the service/ambience good?
    3. Were the prices reasonable?

    Ichikidana scored a Yes on all three. Do you want me to go into intimate detail about all the food I ate? Dude it was 30 shekels for a full meal. Go there and try it out! And then if you want to, tell us about it. As for me I don’t know my Massala from Mississippi, so I’ll just stick with what I do know. Yum or not yum and in this case? Yum.

  • Most bigger professional bakeries these days use persipan (made out of peach pits) instead of marzipan for fillings as it’s cheaper. Making your own marcipan is not too difficult though.

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