Tag Archives: Central Asian

Bukharian Egg & Matzah Soup with Sour Golden Plums

Soup_Matzah13This recipe is adapted from the one that I learned from Amnun Kimyagarov and his wife Zoya during my trip to Rego Park in late August of 2013 (see previous post from September 15, 2013). You can also find this recipe (called, “Oshi Masozgoshak“) in Amnun’s cookbook: “Classic Central Asian (Bukharian) Jewish Cuisine and Customs.”

The original recipe uses unripe green apricots, but dried yellow or golden plums are substituted here in the U.S. The trick is to add a slight tart flavor to the soup. Dried apricots can be used if you cannot find the dried yellow or golden plums in a Russian, Eastern European, or Asian grocery store, but keep in mind that the flavor should be more tart than sweet. Zoya used imported dried Olucha which are dried yellow plums that resemble giant golden raisins. According to Amnun’s Bukharian/Russian/English dictionary this translated to “Cornelian Cherry” and looked like this (see below):

YellowPlums_DriedWhen I went looking in a Russian grocery in Queens (right after my visit with Amnun and Zoya) I couldn’t find the same dried yellow plums that they had used, so instead I got a box of something that looked similar called Uzbek Apricot Kondak, which on the container were translated as “Small Size Apricots with Pits” (photo below). The Apricot Kondak were much more sweet than the Olucha that Zoya had used but looked pretty in the soup (make sure to warn guests about the big pits!). Perhaps the next time I would try to use a more sour apricot like the California variety. After emailing Amnun about this he told me that the taste of the soup should have a slightly sour flavor, so if you cannot find the dried sour plums you should add a few tablespoons of lemon juice instead.

Apricot_Kondak1Oshi Masozgoshak
(Yield: Serves 8 to 10
/Makes about 15 cups)

For Soup:
3 tablespoons vegetable, safflower, or canola oil

2 cups coarsely chopped onions (about 1 large)

1¼ pounds veal stew, beef stew, or chicken thighs cut into ¼-inch pieces

12 cups homemade plain veal, beef, or chicken broth or water

Meat bone (can be 2 reserved bones from chicken thighs, or 1 from veal or beef)

2 teaspoons fine sea salt
3 to 4 generous grindings of fresh black pepper
¾ pound carrots, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 2 cups cubed)
¾ pound white potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 2 cups cubed)
1½ cups dried golden or yellow plums, or Persian dried sour plums*
2 cups finely chopped sorrel leaves or loosely packed coriander leaves (stems discarded)

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

*If you cannot find these from an Asian, Persian, Central Asian/Russian, or Middle Eastern
specialty grocery store then substitute with dried California apricots and several tablespoons of
freshly squeezed lemon juice until you have reached desired tartness.

For Serving:
4 squares matzah, broken into 2-inch pieces

STEPS:
1. Pour oil into a large 4- to 6-quart pot or saucepan and warm over high heat for 1 minute.

Reduce to a medium-high heat and mix in onions. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes until very soft
but not browned.

2. Add meat and mix well. Cook meat, stirring often, until it becomes a greyish-brown color,
about 5 minutes.

3. Pour in broth (or water), and add bone(s), salt, and pepper and bring to boil over high heat.
Reduce to a medium heat and simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered.

4. Add the whole dried plums or apricots, mix well, and continue to simmer an additional
15 minutes uncovered.

5. Add the carrot and potato pieces, and chopped sorrel (or coriander leaves) and mix well.
Cook 10 minutes over medium heat, just until potatoes become soft but not mushy.

6. Slowly add the beaten eggs while stirring until eggs become long strands like egg drop soup,
about 1 minute. Remove from heat and serve immediately into individual soup bowls with
about ½ a square matzah broken up into each bowl.

©Jennifer Felicia Abadi:  www.TooGoodToPassover.com / jabadi@FistfulofLentils.com

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My Roadtrip to Regostan, Queens

Amnun_TableSetting_BlogOne sunny Sunday morning in late August, I ventured out to Queens to meet Amnun Kimyagarov, the author of “Classic Central Asian (Bukharian) Jewish Cuisine and Customs.” (I learned about this book from a woman named Dahlia who I had interviewed for the Afghani/Bukharian chapter of my Passover cookbook.) Amnun’s phone number was right there in the book, so why not call? Amnun answered the phone and, after I introduced myself and told him about my Passover cookbook project, agreed to my coming to him for an interview about Bukharian Passover traditions and foods.

As expected, the subway ride from the Upper West Side to Rego Park, Queens on a Sunday was a challenge, but I was prepared leaving plenty of time. (Something else I found very confusing was the layout of Queens: Is it 53rd Drive, 53rd Road, or 53rd Street? I definitely felt like I was in a foreign land!) But in the end I did make it to Amnun’s with even 15 minutes to spare, choosing to explore the main supermarket on Queens Boulevard with its interesting foods and packaged goods from Central Asia (and Russian radio blasting in the background).

Amnun_Zoya_BlogUpon arriving at Amnun’s I was greeted with a friendly smile by both Amnun and his wife Zoya. The table sitting right there in the middle of the living room was covered with a white tablecloth and arranged like a still life of fresh fruits and melon slices, round Central Asian breads, diamond-shaped walnut pastries, a platter of dried fruit, nuts, and green tea. It was so beautiful I had to take a photo before even sitting down. Zoya presented me with this large flat bread whose texture looked just like a matzah, but in the form of a shallow wok or bowl. They told me that it was a special Bukharian cracker-like bread called Noni Toqiy that was baked in a traditional clay oven called a tandyr,  the same kind of oven that was used for baking matzah (what they called maso) during Passover. Even though this bread was not technically the matzah used for Passover (it was August after all!), they told me that it very much looked like the Bukharian maso. I was fascinated to imagine how their matzah would look so different from the store-bought ones that I knew growing up that were always square, totally flat, and half the size.

MatzahSoup_BukharianIn addition to the matzah, Zoya was generous with her time by showing me how to make Oshi Masozgoshak,matzah-egg soup with cilantro, chopped veal, and dried yellow plums. Traditionally the soup would use special green apricots that were available in Central Asia during the spring time. They were hard, and green, and very tart because they were not yet ripe, but when added to the soup became soft and imparted a special flavor. Because these green apricots were not something that could be found in Queens (much less in the U.S.), they instead substituted a dried yellow plum in its place, which also has a distinct sourness to it. These yellow plums are also known as golden plums and come from Central Asia. With the scrambled egg mixed into the chicken broth, it reminded me of the common Chinese egg drop soup, and made me wonder if this was one of the Asian influences on Bukharian cooking? The addition of the matzah made it Jewish and for Passover, and the sour plums/apricots felt Middle or Near Eastern.

YellowPlums_DriedUpon leaving I was given one of the round breads and the remaining matzah pieces to take home, and Amnun and Zoya hospitably walked me to the supermarket right near the subway, where i shopped for yogurt, pirogis, and these unusual dried yellow plums. What I ended up finding was something called Apricot Kondak from Uzbekistan, which looked similar to the dried golden plums that Zoya had put into the soup. Perhaps these were the same apricot that they mentioned using fresh and green in Uzbekistan? I will have to ask.

Overall it was a very successful day, and reminded me why I was writing this blog and my Passover cookbook to begin with.

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