An Israeli-Arab microbiologist and mother of three won the fourth season of Israel’s most popular reality TV show, “MasterChef.” Her winning dish – Sultan’s Spring.
Nof Atamna-Ismaeel, 32, is a mother of three and possesses a PhD in microbiology. She is the Israeli-Arab town of Baqa al-Gharbiyye, north of Netanya. While she plans to use her prize money to open an Arab-Jewish cooking school she ultimately would like to use her food to create common ground between Arab and Jewish Israelis and very much believes in the power of food to foster deep bonds between people.
Recipe: Sultan’s Spring
For the almond cream:
3/4 cup blanched almonds, halved
5 slices dry white bread
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Zest of one lemon
For the salad:
6 green almonds
Leaves of wild fennel
Hot green pepper, thinly sliced
One handful of green fresh chickpeas
Juice of half a lemon
A few small tomatoes, chopped
For the fish:
5 striped red mullets
Oil for deep frying
Soak the bread in water for about two minutes. Place almonds and garlic in a food processor and grind. Squeeze out the bread and add to the processor bowl.
Gradually add olive oil and lemon juice and process, then add the lemon zest, salt, pepper and seasonings, and set aside.
Cut the fennel bulb and green almonds into thin slices. Add the leaves of wild fennel, hot green pepper and thinly sliced and chopped pickled grape leaves. Season with olive oil, lemon juice and salt.
Clean the fish and debone, then salt with coarse salt. Season the inside of the fish with a little grated lemon zest and salt.
Flour the fish and pan-fry in plenty of oil.
To serve, spread the almond cream on a plate (like hummus). Top with the fennel salad, almonds and green chickpeas. Place the fish over the salad and top with chopped tomato. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon zest and serve.