Open Air Market- Ramla Shuk

by Sarah on October 3, 2009

It’s a bad season for olives throughout the country, a result of natural yearly fluctuations. My little olive tree was particularly lazy and produced a pathetic yield not worth the effort of curing. I wasn’t sure where to obtain uncured olives but thought the Ramla Shuk might have them because of the mixed population living and frequenting this area, including a melting pot of Arabs, Jews, Cochini Indians, Bedouin and Ethiopians. In younger more homogenous neighborhoods, like mine, the vegetable venders don’t bother bringing olives because few people know how to cure them.

Ramla shuk is not a major tourist attraction; not like the more famous Carmel Shuk in Tel Aviv or Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem but it is just as colorful, perhaps even more so because it is authentic. It is crowded, dirty, parking is difficult to find and the aromas that waft from the shuk can make my eyes roll but it is always lively and real. There is no better place to watch people go by, a variegated cross section of Israeli society.  Lately Israeli celebrity chefs and TV personalities such as Israel Aharoni, Gil Hovav and Gidi Gov all have brought Ramla Shuk a certain amount of publicity. There is even a Tunisian sandwich vender which has a large advertisement of Gil Hovav who visited this establishment for his TV show on Israeli food.

I called my neighbors Evelyn and her daughter Hedva, always game for a trip to the shuk and we carpooled to Ramla for another outdoor market adventure. I found uncured Manzanilla olives in a shop owned by an old Moroccan woman with cloudy eyes and vibrant memories who gave me her recipe for Hamin, a slow cooked Sabbath stew. Close by I bought freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, ruby red and lemonade sour and Turkish Borek made with handmade filo dough and stuffed with either  potatoes, spinach or cheese. I also bought falafel a few stalls down and as usual the vender refused to reveal their secret recipe. According to Miriam from Israeli Kitchen, getting a falafel recipe is not so trivial.

If you happen to be in Ramla you should stay to see the interesting historical sites the city has to offer. Ramla is one of the most ancient cities in Israel founded in the early 700′s CE by the Umayyad Caliph Suleiman ibn Abed al-Malik. It was conquered by every dynasty that passed through this area including  Abbasids, Fatamids, Crusaders, Mameluks, Ottoman  Turks, British and finally by Israel. A large portion of the population either fled or was expelled during the Israeli war of Independence in 1948. During the Ottoman era it served as the capital of the area.

Ramla Vegetable Shuk:

Central Ramla, between Jabotinsky and Herzl cross roads, parking is on King Solomon road (Shlomo)

On Wednesday there is the traveling Ramla-Lod shuk which brings textiles, kitchen utensils and other household goods and is set up below the main shuk near the parking lot.

Attractions Nearby:

Ramla’s Great Mosque

King Solomon (Shlomo) Road

Telephone:   08-9225081

Opening times: Monday-Thursday 10:00-13:00 and 12:30-16:00

Charge: 5 NIS for adults and 3 NIS for children and seniors

Ramla Museum

Ramla White Mosque also known as the Ramla Tower

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

M October 3, 2009 at 11:35 pm

Lovely post; great photos. I’d buy olives to pickle, but not olive oil unless straight off the moshav or unless I knew the vendor personally and trusted him/her. I’ve bought o.o. diluted with soy or canola in the past.

So how were the olives? Black are easiest to pickle; they soak the brine up quickly.

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sarah October 4, 2009 at 12:04 am

Thanks! You are absolutely right about the olive oil and I wont be buying it at the shuk any more. There was a buyer raving about the oil being sold by the Bedouin women above so I bought a bottle. When I tasted it I knew I’d been had, it was very poor quality oil.
I found green Manzanilla uncured olives at the shuk, black olives are not ready yet. At home I sliced each one twice and soaked them in water. I changed the water everyday for about 7-8 days and then made a 10% brine solution with the addition of a bit of vinegar, lemons, garlic and spices. Last year they were ready after about 1-2 months.

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Miriam/The winter guest October 4, 2009 at 10:49 am

That’s one of the things I’ve got to learn before I die: pickle or cure olives… I’d love to.

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Shaya October 6, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Mmm. I would love to try some of that bourek with homemade dough…

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Liz October 26, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Looks colorful! Can’t say I ever make it out to Ramle, though …. if you’re still on the market for fresh olives, I bought some souris at the Carmel Market last week — from the olive guy on the street parallel to the main market.

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