Pini and Itzik Levy, father and son, recently opened a new restaurant in Jerusalem. Pini, a well-known culinary figure in Jerusalem, son of a family of butchers, opened his legendary pub in 1973 and three years later opened Pini Bahatzer (“In the Yard”), which became an institution on the Jerusalem culinary scene.
Levy’s cooking is influenced by the North African and Arabic cuisines. He opened the new Pini’s Kitchen with his son, chef Itzik Levy, who trained in a few of the leading restaurants in Israel. In keeping with the kosher restaurant’s Mediterranean atmosphere, Pini’s Kitchen offers patrons a special Kabbalat Shabbat, where Pini plays Greek music with his band.
The menu is a mixture of traditional Moroccan-Jerusalem dishes and modern cuisine. Below, the chefs share the recipes for a few of the dishes that are very typical of Jerusalem cuisine.
CHICKEN SOFRITO WITH GREEN BEANS
✔ 2 onions, sliced
✔ 1 kg. chicken thighs
✔ 1 tsp. allspice
✔ 1 tsp. turmeric
✔ Black pepper
✔ 1 Tbsp. sweet paprika
✔ 1 kg. green beans, strings removed and ends chopped off
✔ 2 tomatoes, peeled and sliced
✔ 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
✔ 2 tsp. dry mint leaves
✔ 6 garlic cloves, halved
✔ 4 sprigs fresh mint, leaves only
✔ 1 liter boiling water
To prepare chicken: in a shallow pot, sauté onion in oil until golden. Add chicken and fry on all sides. Add boiling water and bring to a boil. Remove foam and season with 2-3 allspice seeds, black pepper and salt to taste, 1 Tbsp. paprika and 1 tsp. turmeric. Cook for 25 minutes on very low heat.
Meanwhile, prepare the beans: In a large bowl, mix together beans, tomato slices and tomato paste, dry and fresh mint leaves, garlic and salt. Mix well.
After the chicken has been cooking for 25 minutes, add the bean mixture on top, bring to a boil and cook for 25 more minutes.
Serve with white rice.
LAMB SOFRITO WITH JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES
✔ 1½ kg. lamb shoulder (ask the butcher to cut it into chunks with the bone)
✔ 3 onions, sliced
✔ Olive oil
✔ Salt and pepper
✔ 2-3 allspice seeds
✔ 1 tsp. turmeric
✔ 1½ liter boiling water
✔ 1 kg. Jerusalem artichokes, peeled
Fry the artichokes whole until golden on all sides. Set aside.
In a shallow pot, fry onions in a little oil until golden. Add meat chunks and sear on all sides. Add the boiling water. Boil and remove the foam. Season with allspice, turmeric, salt and pepper. Lower heat to minimum and cook until meat is tender (about 1 hour). Season the fried artichokes with salt and pepper, place on top of the meat. With pot holders, hold the pot with both hands and shake it until the artichokes fit in between the pieces of meat. Continue cooking for 35 more minutes.
✔ 1½ liters chicken broth (recipe below)
✔ 2 cups roasted pistachio, coarsely ground
✔ 1 red onion, chopped
✔ 3 garlic cloves, minced
✔ 1 leek, white part only, sliced
✔ 1½ Tbsp. cornstarch
✔ ½ cup orange juice
✔ Orange zest
✔ Olive oil
In a deep pot, heat 2-3 Tbsp. oil. Sauté the onion until transparent. Add leek and garlic and continue frying for a few more minutes.
In a small cup, combine cornstarch with a little water and stir well. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pot and stir well to avoid lumps. Add the chicken broth. Add the pistachio and bring to a boil. Lower heat and continue cooking for 30 minutes.
Add the orange juice, mix, bring to a boil again and cook for 5 more minutes. Serve hot with a little orange zest on top.
PINI’S CHICKEN BROTH
Slice 4 onions and fry in oil until golden.
Add 3-4 chicken thighs and fry on all sides. Add 2 liters of boiling water, bring to a boil and remove foam. Continue cooking uncovered for 45 minutes. Strain, and you’re done.
Recipes and photos courtesy of Pini’s Kitchen, 24 Emek Refaim Street, Jerusalem, (02) 625- 5506. Kosher lemehadrin.