Yaniv Cohen is The Spice Detective

Yaniv Cohen is The Spice Detective

Israel! Israel! Israel! All of a sudden whenever anyone talks about Mediterranean cuisine, they inevitably go on about Israeli cuisine and how it’s now infamous at top restaurants, recipes, and cookbooks!

I know Israel is amazing: I spent time in a youth program as a student and visited the country as a tourist. But that was many years ago. I can’t wait to visit again. Right now, I’m traveling to Israel in my own American kitchen. Have you seen the amount of Israeli cookbooks that hit the market in recent years?

I guess Jerusalem, by Yotam Otolenghi started a huge trend, not only highlighting the creativity of its people and the beauty of its ingredients, but putting Israeli cuisine on the map for the first time. And the second, third, and fourth cookbook that followed the success of the first. For a cookbook author myself, falling in love with other cookbooks is a constant in my life.

Then I visited Zahav, in Philadelphia, by acclaimed chef Michael Solomonov, which quickly became another obsession. And it led to more Israeli cookbooks on the shelf. Then another incredible cookbook became my all-time favorite: Sababa, written by my dear friend Adeena Sussman’s tribute to Israeli cuisine.

Lately, I had the honor to meet yet another Israeli chef, whom I had the pleasure to work with on a recent trip to Los Angeles. Yaniv Cohen, also known as The Spice Detective , is based in Miami and operates Jaffa restaurant, a food joint located on the Roch Market Miami that serves Israeli influenced cuisine.

After working on an incredible cooking project, we shared a ride on the way to the airport, and he gave me a copy of his cookbook My Spiced Kitchen.

My Spiced Kitchen

Yaniv’s book takes us through a word of spices, deciphering each and every flavor, pairing ingredients and flavors and creating champion recipes. The more I turned the pages, the more I wanted to cook from his book.

With a dinner party scheduled for two days after landing, it wasn’t a hard decision to choose this Short Ribs recipe with Silan and Nigella Seeds.

In this blog post, I take you step by step through Yaniv’s delicious recipe.


Braised Short Ribs with Eggplant and Nigela Seeds


Short Ribs with Eggplant, Silan and Nigela Seeds

By Yaniv Cohen

Adapted from My Spiced Kitchen

Serves 4



2 lbs beef short ribs, cut into individual ribs, clean or extra fat

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup white flour

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, slivered

¼ cup Silan (date syrup)

2 tablespoons nigella seeds

1 tablespoon Iraqui Baharar

2 cups chopped tomatoes (peeled and seeded)

1 eggplant cut into medium cubes

3 cups beef stock

2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley



Center a rack in the middle of the oven and pre-heat it to 325˚F.

Season the meat on both sides with salt and pepper and dredge lightly in flour, shaking the excess. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch-oven pan or any other large pan over medium heat and cook the veal shanks until they are lightly brown and crispy on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and transfer to a bowl. Cover with foil to keep moist.

Add the garlic to the pan (add a bit more oil oif necessary; remove some oil if necessary) and cook until it just starts to get golden, about 1 minute. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until it becomes translucent.

Add the tomatoes, silan and baharara and cook until they are hot, about 2 minutes.

Return the short ribs to the pan, and fit them all inside, nestling them one close to the other, preferably in one layer. Cover the pan with the lid and place the pot in the oven. Cook for 1 1/2 hours, checking the liquid level every half an hour, making sure there is plenty of liquid.

After about 1 ½ hours of cooking, Carefully remove the pan from the oven, add the eggplant cubes making sure they are nice distributed in the pan, cover the pan again, and return to the oven for another 1 hours, depending on the sixe of the short ribs. You want the meat to be falling off the bones and the sauce to display greay body and flavor.

When the short ribs are done, remove from the oven, and let the meat rest inside the pan, off the heat, but with the lid still on for a good 2 to 3 hours (just forget about it and go do something else.) You can make this up to 7 days ahead of time, keep in the fridge in a plastic container fitted with a tight lid and reheat the day of serving.

Garnish with nigella seeds and parsley.

Braised Short Ribs wth Eggplant & Nigela Seeds


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And remember always,

Cook at home! Body Up! Health up! Wise up!

See you next time!



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