For a food festival, Jerusalem is one of the best cities. Especially in the Machane Yehuda Market, or “shuk,” as it’s called in Hebrew, every day is like a food festival. Traditional and modern ingredients and ideas come together for exciting and innovative food experiences.
One treat that has been gaining popularity is the “kurtosh,” or Hungarian “chimney cake.” Originating in the Transylvania region, these cylinder-shaped cakes have been around for centuries. They are among the items included in the oldest Hungarian cookbooks, going back to the 18th century, when people began writing down recipes. But they are likely a much older tradition.
They were originally made by wrapping a simple yeast dough around a roasting spit, and cooking it over a fire or hot coals. That style of cooking results in cake that is crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside. In more recent years, it became common to roll the cake in sugar before baking, to create a sweet treat.
Where to Find Kurtosh Cakes in Mahane Yehuda
There are now a handful of places in the market making and selling these cakes. Along with traditional versions, there are also new flavors. These cakes are just another example of why even outside of any food festival, Jerusalem is a great place for culinary exploration. Here are a couple of the highlights:
Kiortush Hungarian Bakery, which has locations throughout Israel, has a large branch in Mahane Yehuda, at 40 Etz Chaim Street. In addition to classic kortosh, the bakery offers kortush coated with chocolate creme and crushed cashews; cakes covered with dolce de leche and coconut flakes; and cakes rolled in cinnamon. There are also several vegan options, including vanilla, chocolate and halvah, a sweet sesame paste. They also sell wrapped cakes that make great gifts.
Kurtoshock, at 17 HaAfarsek Street, specializes in personal, serving-size kurtosh cakes. It also offers a variety of flavors, including chocolate and pistachio. Their signature item is ice cream served inside a kurtosh cake, with the cake acting as a sort of cone.
There is always a food festival Jerusalem-style
The city’s diverse population and love for creativity means that there are many different cuisines from around the world. Like the kurtosh cakes show, many of these creations come together in the Mahane Yehuda shuk. While exploring the shuk solo is a great way to spend a day or evening, a group tour, which often also involves tasting foods and meeting chefs and market vendors can also be a good option. Many different guides and companies offer these tours.
Another option is a self-guided tour that comes with a Bite Card, granting samples at several well-known food establishments.
For those looking for an official food festival, Jerusalem has several throughout the year. Whether it’s experiencing kurtosh cakes, a shuk tour or a food festival, Jerusalem and its culinary experiences will provide a lifetime worth of memories.