Home cooking delivered just in time

Esek Taim (Tasty Business) is a family-run business that belongs to Dana and Ronen Malhan.

Esek Taim (photo credit: RONEN MALAHAN)
Esek Taim
(photo credit: RONEN MALAHAN)
As a working mother of two, I remember coming to pick up my kids from friends’ houses quite often. You could almost always tell which moms didn’t work or worked only part-time. I remember enjoying the aromas of home cooked meals, and I remember thinking how I wished I was married to a homemaker who cooked fresh, comforting dishes I could come home to after a long day in the office.
I was reminded of these comforting aromas when I received the delivery from Esek Taim last week.
Although the aromas and flavors of the dishes were much richer and more exotic than the ones you can find in most Israeli kitchens, and were in no way similar to the flavors of my mom’s cooking – the smells that filled our kitchen when we opened the boxes from Esek Taim evoked in me a longing for family dinners. It seems home-cooked food, whichever cuisine it comes from, stirs up similar emotions.
Esek Taim (Tasty Business) is a family-run business that belongs to Dana and Ronen Malhan. In normal times, the couple owns a culinary digital consulting firm. The coronavirus left them without clients, but with a lot of free energy and fingers aching for work. So Ronen, a chef and restauranteur in his past, decided to make his love for healthful home-cooked dishes available to his hungry friends and customers.
Ronen cooks traditional dishes such as chicken sofrito, fatayer, and kubbeh, as well as variations on the local Palestinian cuisine, including the likes of fish knafeh, roasted cabbage and rolled masakan.
There are also kids’ dishes that grownups love, such as schnitzels, meatballs, chicken and vegetables, and many vegetarian and gluten-free options.
Dana packs the food, gives the dishes cool and fun names and adds her personal charming handwritten notes to each box, which is actually very helpful, and more often than not, also delivers the orders.
The result is heart-warming.
The food is both familiar and evokes deep feelings of longing to food a “mother” would cook for you – if you were lucky enough to be born to the right one.
We received what the owner described as “samples,” which were actually very generous portions. Apparently the regular dishes are even more generous.
We started with rolled cigars filled with musakan. Musakan (or Masakan) is a chicken and sumac dish, which is traditionally served on a pita. Malhan’s version was rolled like an egg-roll, in a very thin pita baked by the chef. The chicken, cooked with onions and seasoned with sumac as well as other typical seasonings (Ras El Hanut comes to mind), and served rolled as finger food, turned out to be one of the highlights of the meal.
The next box we opened was shulbato – a traditional Palestinian dish made with a combination of cooked bulgur, chickpeas and onion – as simple as this side dish sounds and looks, it was so tasty, I immediately decided to make it a regular side dish in our family meals. I believe Israeli kids who are used to eating ptitim with red sauce will fall in love with this dish and never want to go back.
Bdalak, another humorous name the Malhans came up with, was in fact a cold pasta salad. Unlike most pasta salads, this one combined flavors from Italy and the Middle East. Served with roasted zucchini, lemon, jibne (Arab farmers cheese), confit of garlic, basil and baked cherry tomatoes. You wouldn’t think it will work – but it does. Surprise.
What a Shock – is another humorous name given to chicken thighs (thigh is shok in Hebrew). The chicken was cooked with chickpeas, potatoes and mangold, and embodied, for me, everything home cooking is  about – familiar, delicious, comforting, healthful – with no sugar and very little oil – and so very satisfying.
Another favorite was the fried potato kubeh. A patty of mashed potatoes, filled with ground beef and then fried. Until now, mashed potatoes and ground meat, for me, were translated into shepherd’s pie. But this was a new and delicious way to serve this combination. We couldn’t finish it and tried to eat it for lunch the next day – it was in fact quite good even when eaten at room temperature.
Holy crepe was another surprising dish, made of layers of gluten-free crepes with spinach and mixed cheeses in between. I made a mental note to remember this dish for the family’s next Shavuot meal.
A salsa of spicy roasted vegetables added bite where it was needed, and was the only dish that was spicy. In fact, despite being mostly inspired by local Palestinian cuisine, all the dishes were very delicately seasoned, offering a lot of complex flavors but not overwhelming.
The menu is varied and changes every two weeks or according to what is available.
Are we going to order from Esek Taim again? You bet.
Esek Taim delivers to the areas of Tel Aviv, Rehovot and everything in between.
To order call or WhatsApp 054-9651300.
Check them out on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/esek_taim/
The writer was a guest of the establishment.