Tag Archives: rice

Grandma Fritzie’s Syrian Passover Soup

Soup_KibbehHamdah872dpi

Today’s post by the Jewish Food Society shows my family recipe for Kibbeh Hamdah, a Syrian soup made with lamb meatballs, dried mint, and lots of lemon. If you like tart flavors, this is the dish for you. Enjoy!

 

Advertisements

Rice and beans for Ashkenazim on Passover? You could be lucky too.

Beans_Kidney_BlogWhile many Ashkenazim (Germanic or Eastern European Jews) have long considered Sephardim (Spanish/Mediterranean Jews) or Mizrahim (Middle Eastern Jews) lucky for being able to consume rice on Passover, this staple grain may soon be accepted for them as well. As the American diet continues to change (where individuals can choose to be gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, or vegetarian) there has also been an ongoing debate in the Ashkenazi community about whether to start accepting kitniyot into the weekly Passover diet. Kitniyot (from the Hebrew word for “little things”) is a general category for such foods as legumes, pulses, corn, soybeans, peas, poppy seeds, and even rice, that like chametz (cereal grains such as wheat, or processed foods containing cereal grains such as cake or pasta) have been forbidden by Ashkenazi rabbis for centuries. (While many in the Sephardic world do consume kitniyot, it really varies region to region, such as Moroccans who generally do not consume rice, but may have chickpeas and fresh green beans). Because of today’s stricter labeling and processing requirements, it’s difficult to defend the tradition based on the possibility that a food product could have been contaminated, and the rule against kitniyot is not written in the Torah.

While some are starting to change by embracing rice and beans during Passover, many still prefer sticking to what they were brought up with. (It’s hard to change tradition!)

Here are some interesting and recent articles about the topic,
and the changes that some rabbis in the conservative movements are making.

And another regarding the legality of quinoa.

Recipe Testing Continues with an Eclectic Menu and an Intimate Crowd.

RecipeTestingParty_2_2-20_16_blog

On a cold February evening, during the last few days of school’s winter break, I organized a small recipe testing dinner for those few recipes I had left to test and taste. The menu was the following, and although a mix of cuisines and cultures, came together very well at the dinner itself:

Drink_Ethiopian_Tej_blog

Ethiopian T’ej: Quick Chilled Honey Ginger Wine. (Notes: I added a small amount of a light bodied beer to this version of T’ej to impart a slight yeasty flavor to the wine, and served it very cold at the beginning of the meal.)

Bread_Ethiopian_Injera_blog

Ethiopian Injera: Quick Yeast “Pancake” Bread with Teff Flour. (Notes: I mixed the traditional Ethiopian teff flour, which is naturally gluten-free, with regular white flour so that the flavor would not be too strong and the final texture would be soft and pliable. Traditionally Injera is supposed to sit for several days to allow the batter to ferment, but because my version is meant to be made quickly at the end of Passover as a way to break the fast of leaven for the holiday, I allowed to sit only an hour before baking in the skillet. The result was a bread that was less yeasty in flavor than the traditional bread, but one that still had a spongy texture and tasted delicious with either savory dishes or spread with honey like a crêpe.

Stew_Chickpeas_Ethiopian_blog

Ethiopian Chickpea Wat: Spicy Chickpea Stew with Carrots, Potatoes, Ginger, and Berbere Spice Mix. (Notes: Chickpeas are not necessarily prepared during Passover, but I wanted to test another vegetarian Ethiopian recipe that could be served with my Injera bread, and possibly as a savory Passover break-fast option. What I liked about this dish is that it was slightly hot, but not so much so that you could not taste the flavor. I used my own homemade Ethiopian spice mix known as Berbere, made up of black peppercorns, fenugreek seeds, allspice berries, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom seeds, ground ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, cayenne, red pepper flakes, hot chili pepper, and hot paprika.)

Rice_Iraqi_blog

Iraqi Plau: Basmati Rice with Tomatoes, Turmeric, Cardamom, Cloves and Cinnamon Stick. (Notes: Jim felt that this was a simple recipe to follow, and was surprised in the technique of steaming the rice over a very low heat with the tomatoes and spices instead of boiling it more like pasta. The guests also commented on the pretty yellow color acquired from the turmeric, and liked that it was served in a long platter as opposed to the more western style in a bowl. The overall flavor was reminiscent of Indian cooking, with the addition of whole cardamom pods, cloves, and cinnamon sticks, which are ingredients that are used in some parts of Iraqi cooking as well as by the Baghdadi Jews that once migrated and settled in India.)

Stew_IraqiBeet_blog

Iraqi Kubbah Shooendar Hamuth: Sweet & Sour Beet Stew with Stuffed Meatballs. (Notes: Brian said that the recipe was very different from what he was used to preparing, and he was struck by the very bright red color from the beets and its unusual tangy-sweet flavor. He felt that it was a little tricky to stuff the meatballs into the rice dough and then form it into a torpedo shape, and that if he ever did it again, would work on making the outer shell even thinner.)

Cake_Spanish_Orange_OliveOil_Almondl_Farina5_blog

Spanish Bolo de Laranxa: Orange-Olive Oil Cake with Ground Almonds, Farina, and Orange Blossom Water. (Notes: Kasaya noted that the recipe was very easy to follow and that she didn’t feel that anything needed to be noted or changed. She was concerned about whether it had been baked properly, but when I tasted it I was very pleased and thought that it was prepared perfectly!)

 

Passover Cooking in December: Finding time to write and test the recipes.

Salad_Eggplant_Carrot_RedPepper-_blog

As I complete the interview portion of my cookbook (with a total of nearly 85 interviews of individuals from 18 different countries!), I look forward to the next phase of finalizing the menu for each chapter/community, and then completing the recipes. Recently I had a small dinner party, and I took advantage of testing several recipes on my guests. Here was the menu with my comments for each:

Gibraltarian Fried Chickpeas with Salt and Pepper
(Notes: Sounded easy to do, but it was a total disaster! Chickpeas were popping and oil was flying all over the kitchen. A total mess to clean and I burned my fingers and even shoulder in the process.
Will have to redo this and hopefully obtain the crispiness in the chickpeas without doing too much damage!)

Algerian Broiled Pepper Salad with Garlic, Tomatoes, Paprika, and Coriander Leaves
(Comments: This one came out quite well, and the trick was in cooking the stew for a long time over a low heat so that it got thick and obtained a rich tomato flavor. Final result was a cooked salad with a bright red color and thick texture.)

Moldovan Eggplant “Caviar” with Onions, Garlic, Tomato Paste, and Lemon
(Comments: Also very successful. I baked the eggplants in a 350 degree F. oven for 45 minutes, but I think I prefer to broil them since it’s much quicker and the eggplants obtain a more charred, smokey flavor. Trick is to cook the onions and tomatoes before mixing in the eggplant and cooking off any extra liquid. Make sure that the eggplants are mashed well with fork.

Portuguese Veal, Beef, and Chicken Sausages with Garlic and Smoked Paprika
(Comments: These are more like long kufta kebabs as they use all ground meat and are not stuffed into a proper casing like sausages usually are. They are pan fried, and have a very nice smokey/spicy flavor to them. The trick is to make the meat mixture one day in advance so that the flavors have time to meld.)

Moroccan Prune Tagine with Onions, Cinnamon, Sugar, and Toasted Whole Almonds
(Comments: Delicious savory flavor balanced with the sweetness of the prunes. Looks nice too when served with the toasted blanched almonds, and reminds me of the Ashkenazi Tsimmes recipes (also good for Rosh Hashanna?). Goes well served over rice, or served alongside a lamb dish.)

Sautéed Algerian Carrots with Garlic, Vinegar, Cumin, and Paprika
(Comments: These carrots have to be cooked until very soft and there has to be a balance of garlic, salt, and vinegar to work with the natural sweetness of the carrots. Good with the rice.)

Syrian Long Grain White Rice with Fried Onions, and Toasted Almonds
(Comments: The toasted almonds added a nice crunchiness to the texture of the rice, and the onions gave it a nice but mild flavor. Best served with any type of stew or saucy dish.)

Did you know?: The myth that ALL Sephardim eat rice.

RiceDid you know that some of the most Sephardic of Sephardim simply do not eat rice at all during Pesach? Yes, it’s true! Recently I interviewed a woman (thank you FaceTime!) straight from her Gibraltar apartment who informed me that while all other kitniyot (such as beans, chickpeas, peas, string beans) were permitted during the holiday week, rice simply was never something that they would eat. I was surprised, and said to her, “But Spain is right there, and Spanish is one of your main languages. Surely you are just about as Sephardic as it gets!?” After speaking with so many Jews from all over the Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and even Asian world, I have come to realize that this Ashkenazic belief is not completely true. While most non-Ashkenazim do eat rice, there are still many that never did and still do not. The reasons are not clear, but it seems that those communities who had rice as a staple in their diet going back centuries were most likely permitted to consume rice for Passover (but not without it’s strict sorting and cleaning requirements). Another reason may have had more to do with the local rabbi at the time, and his final decision (which could have been based upon several interpretations of the laws of kashrut) as to what was considered chametz.

QUESTION: Any other Sephardim out there that don’t eat rice? Let me know!

Time to sort the rice: Let the preparations for Pesach begin!

Rice_BlogNow that Purim is over, many individuals begin their Passover cleaning as early as today, one month before the holiday begins. It can be a meticulous period, especially if you have a large house with multiple rooms and floors. One of the most time consuming and important tasks to complete for many of the communities that I had interviewed was the process of sorting and cleaning large quantities of rice for the holiday, as it needed to last the entire week for the whole family. Some individuals even explained how it could take weeks to do, as only small portions would be sorted through each day, grain by grain, only to be sorted again two more times before being considered clean for Passover. While many may only do a good cleaning a week or just days before, I spoke to some individuals who went as far as the following in their homes:

Iran, Syria, India, Iraq: The purchasing and sorting of rice grains (this could take several weeks to do as each grain was individually checked, discarding any broken pieces or grains of wheat that might have gotten mixed in).

India: Purchasing, sorting, roasting, and grinding of fresh spices
(this may have been done as early as 2 months ahead!)

Morocco: Removing the stuffing from all pillows and mattresses, washing the outside cases,
then re-stuffing them with new, fresh cotton (that has been sorted for cotton seeds or bugs).

Ethiopia: Making all new ceramic dishes, bowls, cups, and even pots by hand in time for the holiday
(the previous year’s dishes and pots would ALL be broken then discarded a few days before Seder).

Egypt, Morocco, Iran: Washing and painting of all the interior walls of the house.

Yemen, Egypt, Iran: Buying a young lamb and raising it on the terrace or in backyard before slaughtering it for the Passover Seder night (this might have started 2 months before).

QUESTION:
How early did your family start preparing for the holiday,
and what were the first things that you would do?

Chapter by Chapter: The Jews of Bukharia and Afghanistan

CarpetIn this week’s Passover chapter, I am focusing on the Jewish community from Afghanistan and Bukharia (located today in the southwestern part of Uzbekistan). This is especially interesting to me because I know so little about this community. I also find myself wondering where and how to arrange this group in my cookbook so that it makes sense. The Jews from this region are neither truly Middle Eastern, nor Sephardic, but they have some influences of both, as well as a great deal from countries as far east as China and India. They are Central Asian — a part of the Asian continent that stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west, all the way to China in the east, Russia in the north, and Afghanistan in the south, and include the following countries:
Afghanistan
Uzbekistan
Kazakhstan
Kyrgyzstan
Tajikistan
Turkmenistan
Mongolia
Eastern Iran
Northwestern Pakistan

The reason that I have decided to group Bukharia and Afghanistan together into one chapter is because it is not so clear to me as to which dishes are purely Afghani, and which ones are Bukharian. Since so many of the Central Asian Jews were traders along the Silk Road moving in and out of these two countries as well as Persia, much of the “Jewish” cooking that evolved over time adopted a combination of cooking techniques and recipes from the general region.

The Seder

A Simple Passover Haggadah

Eshkol HaKofer

Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe!

too GOOD to PASSOVER

Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe!

In my Iraqi Kitchen: Recipes, History and Culture, by Nawal Nasrallah

Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe!

Bendichas Manos

a blog about living, cooking and caring in the Ladino tradition

KOSHER LIKE ME

COMING SOON

my madeleine

Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe!

A Kosher Christmas

'Tis the Season to be Jewish

%d bloggers like this: