Laurie Rappeport has lived in Safed for over 25 years and worked at the Tourist Information Center in the Old Jewish Quarter for 13 years. She continues to be involved in a wide range of projects which are aimed at bringing visitors to Safed to enjoy the religious, historical, cultural and artistic sites and experiences that the city has to offer.
Safed has never been known for its fine cuisine but things may be changing.
The small northern town is recognized as the area where the study of Kabbalah flourished in the Middle Ages, earning Safed the title of the "City of Kabbalah" by which it is still identified today. It is a growing tourist center where people wander the lanes and alleyways of the Old Jewish Quarter and the Artists Quarter, visiting the ancient synagogues, cemetery and mikveh as well as the dozens of art galleries which display Judaica and other types of Israeli art.
But until recently, the eateries in the city were relatively mundane. There are several nice coffee houses in the
center of town, a bagel shop with REAL American bagels and toppings, a vegetarian health food eatery and some meat restaurants which generally serve a typical Israeli meal of salads, meats and chips.
Several years ago a new resident, Ronen, decided to open a restaurant that would offer the kind of Yemenite
food that he loved to eat in his own home growing up. Ronen's "Lachuch" can now be found in the center of the Old Jewish Quarter, along Alkabetz Street directly across from the Tzfat Tourist Information Center.
Ronen started out by serving a number of different dishes at his restaurant. He experimented with jachnun and sahlab and even served gat -- the Yemenite chewing plant -- but in the end, his lachuchs were so popular that he built his eatery around the hot, savory pancake-like dish.
Ronen's lachuchs are a work of art which he creates while standing in the restaurant's open window as he allows customers to watch while he makes each lachuch individually, according to the customer's order. Lachuchs can be rolled up and eaten on-the-go or can be served on a dish with an accompaniment of vegetables and olives.
It may not be possible to duplicate the exact texture of Ronen's lachuchs which he cooks in a cast-iron frying
pan at a very high heat but lachuchs are a healthy, low fat option for breakfast, lunch or dinner and can be easily prepared at home.
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
Proof the yeast by mixing the yeast and sugar in a cup of warm water. When it starts to
bubble, it's ready to use.
1 cup whole wheat flour (or half whole wheat and half white)
1 tbsp salt
2 cups of warm water
Mix these ingredients together. You want to end up with a runny mixture that's roughly the
consistency of eshel -- runny yogurt -- so if you need to add more warm water, do so.
1 tbsp olive oil
Grated cheese or egg
Slices of tomato, purple onion, mushrooms and chopped parsley
Zaatar spice (hyssop) and Hawaj spice (Yemenite spice)
Heat the pan and add olive oil. The pan should be hot but not so hot that the pancake will
immediately cook when it's poured into the pan. Once the batter has been poured you're going to
need a minute to "set it up." Pour approximately ¼ cup of the batter into the pan and spread it around the pan.
Lay slices of tomato, onion and mushroom around the batter as it cooks. Use any or all of these
vegetables as you wish. Sprinkle the chopped parsley on top.
Sprinkle the zaytar and hawaj over the vegetables. If you don't have either of these spices, it's fine,
but they do add a nice taste to the lachuch.
Sprinkle grated cheese (Ronen uses grated goat cheese in his lachuch for a nice salty taste) over
the cooking pancake or spill in a scrambled egg and spread it over the pancake so that it will cook
on top of the pancake and the vegetables/spices. You can also leave it to cook without any cheese
Cover the pan with a lid to allow it to cook evenly.
When the pancake is firm, turn it over. (Ronen flips it...go ahead and try it if you have a good stick-
Drizzle a little more olive oil over the top (optional)
Cook the second side for a minute or two.
Lay it on a plate and eat it rolled, in a napkin, or with a fork and knife.