Balinjera, Malan St. 4
So this is a place that one of my very best friends, Alexis, who I did the first part of my Israel summer with, found before we even got to Tel Aviv. She knew it had vegan options, and since both of us love Ethiopian food and only had a few days in Tel Aviv together, we knew we’d hit this place. It was the beginning of June when we were planning to go there, and when I called to see if they could do any dish without oil, I was so disappointed when they said no. I understood of course, and told Alexis we had to go anyway, so she could get her Ethiopian food! On her last day in Tel Aviv, I grabbed a sushi sandwich from the Japanika kiosk on Rothschild and we headed to Balinjera.
Her meal looked delicious, and they were cool with me eating my own food. They even brought us out delicious Ethiopian tea. I was sad about it, but so glad she got to enjoy.
Pretty soon after, when I got into contact with Dr. Miriam Maisel, a plant-based doctor in Tel Aviv, I saw on her website about her ‘Healthy Dining Project’, where she reaches out to restaurants to get them to offer one whole food plant-based compliant meal to customers. And what do you know? The first restaurant who has agreed to this was Balinjera!
After some confusion with communication, we were able to set a date to come to Balinjera and get the vegan meal without any oil (and no added sugar or salt!). Fanta, the owner, took my order easily via Whatsapp (reservations required for without oil 2 days in advance).
I am so glad that I waited and came back- the food was honestly fantastic. We ordered a meal
for two- a vegan Balinjera (you can pay extra for meat, as the restaurant is not fully vegan).
I’m going to try to remember what everything was but I’m definitely leaving out the details, as
everything is made with a multiple vegetables and so many amazing spices that I don’t know. The mix with collard greens was in the middle, red lentils on the bottom left, (clockwise now) green lentils above that, potatoes and carrots, grilled onions, spicy garlic chickpeas, and a different sort of spicy chickpeas on the bottom right.
The red lentils and the garlic chickpeas were my favorite- but everything was fantastic. They are so nice, and the location is amazing being right by Shuk HaCarmel and Banana beach.
One of the coolest things about eating here was that aside from the food being delicious and authentic,
vegan and healthy, and supporting a restaurant that is part of the Healthy Dining Project, showing restaurants that consumers do want healthy options that are doctor-approved, is that Fanta had a personal store with healthy eating. After moving to Israel and starting to eat more of a western-based diet, she got very sick. It wasn’t until going back to eating her home cuisine did she start to get better, take back her health, and realize the importance of food in matters of health. It was then that she decided to open up her restaurant. Not only is she sharing something beautiful with the Tel Aviv community, the restaurant was born out of this appreciation for food as medicine and healthy eating. The warm energy of the spirit of the place no longer seems like a coincidence, it all makes sense.
Dr. Maisel kindly treated me to lunch and this wrapped up our time in Israel together. I was lucky enough to find her from one of the plant-based doctors websites, and reached out to her when I was first doing research and trying to talk to doctors from around the world for the Fulbright I was considering applying to in order to illuminate the work of plant-based physicians addressing health care problems around the world. It was a privilege to get to pick her brain the few times we met up, and the Tel Aviv community is lucky to have her as she continues moving forward with her clinical practice and community work (for more on Dr. Maisel, check out my interview with her!).