Jewish Cuisine is a collection of the different cooking traditions of the Jewish people worldwide. It is a diverse cuisine that has evolved over many centuries, shaped by Jewish dietary laws (kashrut) and Jewish Festival and Sabbath traditions. Jewish Cuisine is influenced by the economics, agriculture, and culinary traditions of the many countries where Jewish communities have existed and varies widely throughout the world. In turn, Jewish cuisine has also influenced the cuisines of many countries.
Broadly speaking, the distinctive styles or cuisines in their own right that may be discerned in Jewish cuisine are: Ashkenazi (Central and Eastern European), Sephardic (descendants of the Iberian Jews, including Italian, Greek, Turkish and Balkan), Mizrahi (North African, including Moroccan, Tunisian, Algerian and Libyan), Judeo-Arab (Lebanese, Syrian and Iraqi), Persian Jewish, Yemenite Jewish, Indian Jewish, and Latin-American Jewish. There are also distinctive dishes from Jewish communities ranging from Ethiopia to Central Asia.
Baked Kibbeh with Onion and Pine Nut Topping
For the kibbeh base:
2⁄3 cup fine-ground bulgur
1 medium onion, cut in quarters
1 pound lean, boneless leg of lamb
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
For the topping:
1 pound onions, sliced3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1⁄4 to 1⁄3 cup pine nuts
Salt and black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground allspice
1⁄2 to 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (optional)
For the kibbeh base, rinse the bulgur in a fine sieve under cold running water and drain well. Purée the onion in the food processor. Add the meat, salt, pepper, and cinnamon and blend to a paste. Add the bulgur and blend to a smooth, soft paste.
With your hand, press the paste into the bottom of an oiled, round, shallow baking dish or tart dish, about 11 inches in diameter. Flatten and smooth the top and rub with 2 tablespoons oil. With a pointed knife, cut the contents into 6 wedges through the center, and run the knife round the edges of the dish. Bake in an oven preheated to 375F for about 30 minutes, until browned.
While the kibbeh base is baking, prepare the topping. Fry the sliced onions in the olive oil until they are golden brown, stirring often. Add the pine nuts and stir until lightly colored. Add a little salt and pepper, the cinnamon, and allspice and, if you like a slightly sweet-and-sour flavor (I do), the pomegranate molasses. Cook, stirring for a minute or so.
Serve the kibbeh with the topping spread over the top.
Instead of pine nuts, use 2⁄3 cup shelled walnuts, broken into pieces and, if you like, 2 tablespoons raisins soaked in water for 15 minutes and drained. (If you are using raisins, omit the pomegranate molasses.)
Add 1 tablespoon sumac to the onion topping and omit the pomegranate molasses.
Afghani Kofta Nakhod (Meatballs and Chick-Pea)
This is both an Afghan recipe and a Sephardic Jewish recipe
- 1 cup dried chick-peas, covered with hot water & soaked over-night, or at least 8-10 hours
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 1 large onion, grated
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon dried mint, crushed
- 1 tablespoon fine bread crumbs, matzoh meal, or plain flour
- 4 cups boiling water
Ceremonial Rice Pudding with Aniseed
120 g (4 oz) ground rice
1.3 litres (2 1⁄4 pints) water
8 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon caraway seed
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon aniseed
Pinch of ground ginger
To decorate: chopped blanched almonds, pistachios, toasted pine nuts, hazelnuts, whichever are available
Mix the ground rice to a smooth paste with some of the cold water. Add sugar, caraway seed, fennel seed and aniseed, and mix well. (The spices can be used in powdered form if more convenient.) Bring the remaining water to the boil in a large saucepan with an inch of ginger. Add the ground rice paste gradually, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil again, then allow to simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook until it thickens, about 1 hour. Pour into individual serving bowls or a large glass bowl, allow to cool and chill until ready to serve.
Serve decorated generously with patterns of chopped blanched almonds, toasted pine nuts, chopped pistachio nuts and hazelnuts. Use all or any that are available.