Archive for the 'Sephardi cuisine' Category

25
Jul
11

Aromas of Aleppo


Poopa Dweck‘s magnum opus is far more than just an ethnic cookbook. In its pages, the author lovingly brings us the history, the culture, the flavors and aromas of over 2500 years of Syrian Jewry.

As the author tells us in the Preface, the book…

…features dishes that are both disarmingly familiar, exotic, and, above all, healthful.

My community represents a link to a forgotten past. It is one of the few Jewish communities to live through the rise and fall of Moorish Spain and the Ottoman Empire and survive as a modern people in the West while maintaining its venerable traditions. Our soulful culture, with its fervid, tuneful songs and communal celebratory feasts, is at its most vibrant during the Sabbath, holidays, and life cycle events. One of the most artful representations of Aleppian Jewish culture is our food, whose story I have yearned to tell.

By coincidence (is there really such a thing?!?) I was playing Rabbi Moshe Tessone‘s CD Odeh La’El!, as I became engrossed in this coffee table sized, art-book quality tome. The writing is informative and fun, the evocative photography (the colors, the settings, the lighting, the angles, bespeak of a certain rusticity and a sedate elegance at the same time) and the recipes truly introduced me to a world which – as an Ashkenazic Jew – I barely knew. Between this beautiful book and the music I felt transported to another time, to an enchanted region, far from the hustle and bustle of New York and – at least for the moment – life seemed beautiful, simple and far more pure…

Looking through the old photographs, looking at the author’s family, looking at the recipes pictured, almost made me feel as if I was partaking of a holiday meal at her table.

While loeafing though the book I just had to immediately try a recipe. On page 162 I found one that called for some of my leftover matzah meal and tamarind concentrate, which I’d picked up in the nearby Sephardic neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Keftes

Tamarind-Stewed Meatballs

Meatball dishes such as keftes are a tradition all over the Middle East. Some regions use turmeric and others use sumac or lemon and mintas flavoring accents for similar meatballs. Aleppian Jews like to use a combination of tomato sauce and tamarind, the proportions of which can vary according to a family’s preference.

Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons matzah meal
  • 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Sauce:
  • One 6 ounce can tomato paste, or two 8 ounce cans tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon ou (tamarind concentrate, page 41), homemade or store bought
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  1. To make the meatballs, combine the the beef, eggs, matzah meal, salt and Aleppo pepper. Mix well by hand. The mixture should be loose and moist so that it can best absorb the sauce and retain a velvety texture. Shape the meat mixture into walnut-size balls.
  2. To make the sauce, combine the tomato paste, ou, lemon juice, salt, 1 cup of water, and, if desired, sugar, mix well.
  3. In a large ovenproof saucepan, brown the meatballs, one batch at a time, in the oil over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes per batch.
  4. Return all the meatballs to the saucepan. Pour the sauce over the meatballs and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes to thicken sauce and allow the flavors to integrate thoroughly.

Variation

For a tangier sauce, increase the ou by 1 1/2 teaspoons and increase the water by 1/2 cup. Or omit the ou altogether for a lighter, more refreshing sauce, especially if you are serving another dish with ou.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy! Sifrah daimeh – “May your table always be plentiful”

CS

17
Dec
10

Shakshuka


When I lived in Israel, I discovered the Sephardic cuisine. Growing up in Uruguay, I had occasional eaten over by some of my Sefaradi friends but never encountered most of the delicacies I found in the Holy Land. One of this discoveries was Shakshouka, therefore I felt compelled to scour the web in search of easy recipes for it.

What is Shakshouka, you ask? Wikipedia describes it as:

Photo from: Wikipedia

Shakshouka (Arabic: شكشوكة‎; Hebrew: שקשוקה‎) (also shakshukashaqshuqa) is a dish from Maghreb consisting of eggs cooked in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and spices (often including cumin, turmeric, and chillies), and usually served with white bread.

[..] Shakshouka is now a staple of Tunisian, Algerian, Egyptian, Moroccan, Somali, and Yemeni cuisines, and is also popular in Israel, where it was introduced by Tunisian Jews.

And here is the Wikibooks recipe for Shakshouka:

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons of frying olive oil
  • One tablespoon of sweet paprika
  • 6 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • One large sweet red pepper diced
  • One Chili pepper (red or green) diced
  • 6 ripe tomatoes diced
  • Ground fresh black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 eggs

Procedure

  1. On a high flame, heat the oil for about half a minute.
  2. Add the paprika and blend well.
  3. Add the garlic and peppers, and turn to low flame. Cook for about ten minutes – until the peppers have slightly softened.
  4. Add the tomatoes and spice it with salt and pepper and then blend it.
  5. Bring it to a boil, taste it and if necessary – add spices to get the taste refined.
  6. Makes six dents in the mixture. Into each dent put an egg yolk, and spread the egg whites around.
  7. Continue to cook on low until the egg whites have coagulated.
  8. Serve the Shakshouka with black bread and fresh parsley.

From the Spanish language blog: Absolut Marruecos, we bring you this authentic Morrocan recipe:

Photo by: Absolut Marruecos

shakshuka con huevos

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 grated onion
  • 7 ounces water
  • 36 ounces tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rice
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 tablespoon green pepper, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 eggs

Directions

  1. Sauté onion in very hot oil until just golden.
  2. In a pot add the water, tomatoes, let it boil for 5 minutes.
  3. In a separate pot cook the rice.
  4. Add the parsley, salt, pepper and green pepper.
  5. Carefully break the eggs one at a time and drop on the tomato pot.
  6. Cook for about 40 minutes on medium flame.

When Mia Cooks, adds an interesting variation:

Shakshuka

Ingredients

  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped bell pepper
  • 4 to 5 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup veg broth
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • 1/4 cup corn
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • salt to taste
  • coriander/cilantro leaves
  • Vegetable oil

Actually, it’d be better if you boil the tomatoes and then peel and chop them. But I forgot….heck, ok, I was too lazy.

  1. In a pan, heat a tbsp of vegetable oil.
  2. Add the chopped onions and bell pepper and saute for a few minutes.
  3. Add the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes and veg broth.
  4. Add the peas and corn as well. Season with salt and chilli powder.
  5. Simmer and allow to cook till the corn and peas are cooked and there’s some liquid left.
  6. Break the eggs into the base.
  7. Break the yolks with a spoon, cover and simmer. If you like your eggs runny, remove it well under a minute. I don’t, so i let it cook for 2 minutes till it firmed up. Add chopped cilantro and serve with bread.

Enjoy gentle reader, enjoy!

CS




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