Minas, Meginas, and Maienas: The Quintessential Sephardic Dish?


Mina de Maza with Cheese

Through my Passover research I came across the concept of a layered matzah pie that is very popular in the Sephardic communities of Turkey and parts of Greece, but not something that I was not at all familiar with in the Syrian community. The filling layered in-between softened pieces of matzah vary from beef and lamb, to spinach or just cheese, and all are baked into delicious pies resembling a lasagna. Interestingly enough the name for this type of layered pie varies. In the community cookbook by the Sephardi Ladies of Zimbabwe I came across Megina de Karne, and while interviewing Greek and Turkish Jews, I learned about Mina de Maza (see photo at left) and Mina de Carne. An Italian version called Matzah Scacchi has a very different name but the concept of layering a meat filling in-between matzah then baking it appears to be a Sephardic influence. Although by name the Algerian Megina indicates similar roots, it is more of a large frittata-like omelet consisting of many eggs, ground beef, and potatoes (I wonder if the combination of many eggs mixed with meat and baked into a pie is the part that was carried over in the name?) The closest dish that I can compare to is the Greek Spanikopita which uses phyllo dough with a traditional filling of spinach and cheese.

Does anyone know if any of these words (mina, megina, maiena, meyina)
derive from Spanish, Ladino, Turkish, Greek, or Arabic?


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