Annual mevaser haredi women cooking competition 390.
(photo credit: Eli Segal)
Three haredi women served up a veritable feast of culinary delights Monday
afternoon, in a competition to find the most delectable dish in Israel for
today’s large ultra-Orthodox families and bustling homes.
Readers of the
“At Home” supplement of the haredi newspaper Mevaser were invited to submit
recipes for the competition, held at the newspaper’s annual consumer fair for
More than 1,500 applicants for the grand cook-off
sent in their signature dishes, three of whom were selected to battle it out in
Monday’s competition at the Jerusalem International Convention
Ella Greenberg, Miriam Eichler and Hani Gelbstein all stepped
into the large studio kitchen before a packed audience of keen haredi cooks to
fry, bake and sauté their gastronomic creations.
Greenberg offered up
panfried chicken livers in an apple and red wine reduction, served on toasted
bread with baby salad leaves.
Eichler presented a variation on the
classic schnitzel dish: fried chicken breasts filled with a green-bean and
walnut stuffing, accompanied by a piquant tomato sauce.
created a wholesome chicken pie, with alternate layers of ground meat and sweet
potato puree, topped with sesame and caraway.
Although expert sampling
was not possible, it seems certain that the sharp fruity notes of Greenberg’s
apple and wine reduction complemented the rich gaminess of the livers perfectly;
the spicy undertones of Eichler’s tomato sauce brought out the full flavors of
the succulent fried chicken breast; and Gelbstein’s alluring use of herbs
produced a rambunctious riot of flavor in her chicken and sweet potato
Ella Greenberg won the competition, receiving the prize of a new
But in addition to being generally scrumptious, competition
entries were also required to fit in with the challenges the contemporary
religious woman faces in her household.
Haredi families are often much
larger than the average Israeli family, so recipes must be quick, employ
reasonably priced ingredients, be simple to put together and use as few utensils
as possible, to ensure that the kitchen is not overwhelmed with dirty pots and
pans, chopping boards, sieves and all other manner of cooking
Leah Myzel, a columnist and editor of the “At Home” supplement
and the competition host, talked about the importance of food in the
ultra-Orthodox household and how the contemporary haredi woman copes with the
daily nutritional requirements of her family.
“The world today is more
open for religious women,” Myzel told The Jerusalem Post
“Many women go
to work now and also want to develop themselves personally.”
other hand a haredi woman wants to raise a family, usually a large one, and
wishes to remain faithful to the traditions and practices of the community,
including cooking and caring for her children,” she said.
that preparing meals therefore remains an important aspect of a woman’s role at
“There’s a sensitivity that you’re not as good a mother as you can
be if you don’t make proper, healthy, nutritious meals for your
But, continued Myzel, modern conveniences such as supermarket
deliveries, washing machines, dryers and similar household aids, mean that a
haredi woman no longer must remain at home.
“Why should a woman not do
something for herself?” she asked. Often the men are learning in kollel so his
wife needs to bring in income for the family, she said. Even if that’s not the
case, many haredi women are beginning to embrace a more open society with
“They go to all the mainstream ‘high street’ clothing
stores because they want to dress fashionably and be well turned out, while of
course only purchasing outfits which conform to their level of modesty,” said
Myzel. “Religious women also want to have a wider range of experiences,
socialize and everything that goes with that, so there is a lot of change in the
haredi world at the moment.”