Cooking Class: A treasury of tastes
Celebrate the diversity of Israeli cuisine with a new cookbook that culls traditional Jewish recipes from around the globe.
LachmaJoun Photo: EILON PAZ
A new cookbook, The Treasure of Jewish Cooking by the gourmet food magazine Al Hashulchan,
was published in time for Passover and holds a real treasure trove. It
contains 200 recipes, among them dishes that have become household
classics in most Israeli kitchens, alongside others that are known only
to members of certain families.
In addition to the traditional
recipes, there are newer versions of old favorites, created by local
chefs that were inspired by what was served in their families kitchens.
speaking about Israeli cuisine,” write the editors of the book Jana Gur
and Iris Gelbart in the preface, “we immediately mention the 70
diasporas, the melting pot and other worn-out expressions.
need to distance ourselves a little in order to grasp the uniqueness and
richness of the culinary baggage that was brought here by the olim.
Dozens of Jewish cooking traditions that developed in all parts of the
world, with every-day as well as holiday recipes, unique cooking
techniques and utensils, traditions and customs that landed here and
only now begin to surface.”
The book is in Hebrew, but the
publishers say they are thinking about publishing it in English in the
future. In the meantime, here are a few recipes that are ideal for an
Independence Day gathering.
Avi Levy has perfected his family’s recipe for the North African
deep-dish potato pie. It is a fluffy, crustless potato and egg pie with
herbs that is fried on the stove and then baked in the oven. Before you
start, you will need a rather high, narrow pot, about 16-18 cm in
diameter, preferably with a non-stick coating. The oil may start
splattering as it bakes, so place the pot in a tin foil baking pan
before putting it in the oven.
✔ 4 medium-size potatoes, washed but not peeled
✔ 1 large onion, chopped
✔ 1 bunch parsley, chopped
✔ 1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
✔ 1 Tbsp. salt
✔ 1 tsp. turmeric
✔ 1 tsp. chicken-flavored soup mix
✔ 10 eggs
✔ 1 cup oil
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon Boil potatoes until almost tender; the hearts should
remain hard. Chill, peel and puree until almost smooth – leave a few
lumps. Add eggs, vegetables and seasonings.
The mixture will seem a little runny – that’s fine.
the oven to 200º. Heat the oil in a tall cooking pot until very hot but
not bubbling. Pour the potato mixture into the pot, cover and fry over
medium heat for 12 minutes.
Remove the cover and place the pot on
a cooking sheet to keep the oven clean, and bake in the oven about 75
minutes until done (test with a toothpick).
Remove from oven. Run
a sharp knife around the sides of the pot and drizzle the pie with
lemon juice. Wait 2-3 minutes and carefully turn over onto a platter.
Serve hot or cold.
Oliver presents the Mediterranean answer to pizza. She says that much
like pizza, the thickness of the crust is a matter of taste. You choose
how thin to roll the dough and the amount of topping, usually meat, to
serve on the bread. Whichever way you choose, she says, serve it as they
do in the street stalls in Turkey – rolled up with a few slices of
tomato, onion and a little parsley.
For the dough:
✔ 700 gr. (5 cups) bread flour
✔ 50 gr. (1 sachet or cube) fresh yeast
✔ 60 ml. (4 Tbsp.) oil
✔ 2 tsp. salt
✔ 2 Tbsp. sugar
✔ 420 ml. (1 3⁄4 cups) water Meat topping:
✔ 3⁄4 cup olive oil
✔ 1 large onion, chopped
✔ 1 heaping tsp. paprika
✔ 1 heaping Tbsp. tomato puree
✔ 3 cloves garlic, minced
✔ 500 gr. ground lamb with a little fat
✔ 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeds removed, and cubed
✔ 1 hot pepper, chopped very finely
✔ 1⁄2 bunch parsley, chopped
✔ Salt and pepper
✔ 50 gr. pine nuts To serve:
✔ 1 red onion, sliced thinly
✔ 1 tomato, sliced
✔ 1⁄2 bunch parsley, leaves only
To prepare the dough: Mix ingredients together about 10 minutes. Cover and let rise for an hour.
To prepare the topping:
Fry onions in 3 Tbsp. olive oil until golden. Add paprika and tomato
puree. Fry for 1 minute more. Place mixture in a mixing bowl. Add meat,
garlic, tomatoes, hot pepper, parsley, salt and pepper, and mix well.
Heat the oven to 220º.
Divide the dough into 10 balls, about 110
gr. each. On a lightly floured surface, flatten each ball into 1 to 1⁄2
cm. thick discs. Place dough discs on an oiled and floured baking
sheet. Brush each disc with about 1 Tbsp. oil and spread a little of the
meat mixture. Sprinkle with pine nuts.
Bake 12-15 minutes until
dough is baked and meat done. Remove from oven, cool 1-2 minutes, and
place a little onion, slice of tomato and parsley leaves on each disc.
Then roll and serve.
Sambusak is a vegetarian pastry pocket filled with chickpeas, which is a wonderful light meal served with tomato salad.
Dudek, who recreated this recipe, says it is such a favorite among his
wife’s Iraqi family that there used to be fights over who ate more.
✔ 500 gr. (31⁄2 cups) flour
✔ 100 gr. margarine (or butter)
✔ 1 egg
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. salt
✔ 3⁄4 Tbsp. dry yeast
✔ 1 cup water Gilling
✔ 1⁄2 kg. chickpea, cooked, frozen or from a can, washed and strained
✔ 1⁄4 cup oil
✔ 4 onions, sliced thinly
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. cumin
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. salt
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. black pepper
✔ Oil for deep frying
To prepare dough:
Using your fingers, mix flour and margarine in a bowl until crumbs
form. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Knead on a floured
surface about 3 minutes, until dough becomes smooth and gluten fibers
form. Place in a bowl and cover. Let rise about an hour.
To prepare filling:
Blend chickpeas in a food processor. Heat oil in a large saucepan over
medium heat and fry onions until browned. Add ground chickpeas and
seasoning and mix. Continue cooking until the mixture becomes golden.
Chill. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
hands, roll 40 small balls from the dough (the size of pingpong balls).
Place the balls on a tray and cover to avoid drying. Flatten each ball
into a small disc, using your palms or a rolling pin. Fill each disc
with 1 Tbsp. of the chickpea mixture. Fold into half a circle and press
around to close, using your fingers or a fork. Place one layer of the
filled sambusak on each baking sheet. At this stage, you can freeze the
sambusak. Thaw half an hour before frying.
To deep-fry the sambusak:
Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and fry all the
sambusak on both sides. Place in a strainer or on paper towels. Eat
fresh or freeze them. To reheat, put them in a 200º oven for 4-5
* Variation: Replace chickpea filling with cheese mixture with an added 1 Tbsp. corn flour.
BOIKOS (CHEESE BUNS)
Makes 30 bite-size buns
Manovela brings the recipe for these aromatic Balkan cheese-filled
buns, which are easy to prepare and are perfect for parties.
✔ 350 gr. (1 small bag) self-rising flour
✔ 250 gr. 5% white cheese
✔ 1 egg
✔ 200 gr. butter or margarine,
✔ 150 gr. crumbled Bulgarian feta
✔ 200 gr. grated hard, sharp yellow cheese Topping
200 gr. grated hard cheese Heat the oven to 200º. Mix all the
ingredients except the cheese for topping in a bowl until you get a very
Divide into 30 balls. Dip the balls in the grated
cheese and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake about 20 minutes or until
golden. Chill a few minutes and serve warm.
All recipes and photos are from the book The Treasure of Jewish Cooking.
Al Hashulchan publishing house