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Jewish Cuisine

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Jewish - Cooking and Food Edit

Traditional Recipies from an Israel Kitchen Edit

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The International Jewish Cook Book Edit

Embassy of Israel Office of Public Affairs Washington, D.C.

Despite its Biblical association with milk and honey, Israel lacks a long- standing culinary heritage. Only a few years ago, Israelis even doubted the existence of their own authentic cuisine.

Today, most people agree that there is a distinctive Israeli cuisine, though like many aspects of the society, it is uniquely multifaceted. It reflects the various communities in the country and their diverse geographical and cultural origins. The Israeli kitchen is home to the multitude of foods and recipes which have accompanied the Jewish people's return to the "Land of milk and Honey."

Historically, the Jewish holidays are accompanied by customary dishes linked to the traditions and stories of each festival. The recipes for special dishes, such as blintzes (eaten on Shavuot) and latkes (eaten on Hanukah), have been passed down from generation to generation, and are now part of Israeli cuisine.

In the years since Israel achieved independence, new culinary traditions have crystallized. There is the practice of picnicking in the countryside, where the usual menu consists of shishlik, kebob (an Eastern version of American hamburger), or steak. First courses in these outdoor meals are invariably tehina and hummus, foods stemming from our Arab neighbors which have been incorporated into the Israeli bill-of-fare.

A second custom is the large Israeli breakfast. It is composed of salads, a variety of cheeses, olives, distinctive Israeli bread, juice and coffee. The loaded-down tables which characterize Israeli hospitality have their basis in Jewish antiquity. The Bible relates the story of the three angels who visited the tent of the patriarch Abraham and his wife Sarah and were treated to a lavish meal.

The order and content of meals in Israel differs from that of the United States. The principal meal of the day is generally served in Israel at noontime, when the children return home from school. Very few families follow the American pattern and have their large meal in the evening. The evening meal is usually a light one consisting generally of dairy products, salads and eggs.

There are a number of Jewish dietary laws stemming from the Bible which are integral to Israel's culinary heritage.

According to these laws (Kashrut), only certain types of meat and fish may be eaten. Pork and rabbit, for example, are excluded, as are shellfish.

In addition, dairy dishes must be cooked and eaten separately from meat dishes. Foods such as fish, eggs, fruits and vegetables ("pareve" foods) may be eaten with either meat or milk. Two sets of dishes, for milk and meat meals, are used, stored and cleaned separately.

No cooking is permitted on the Sabbath, the day of rest, except for food prepared in advance that can simmer for a long time under a low flame. The traditional cholent, a robust stew, and kugel, a vegetable and noodle pudding, are two such examples.

Jewish Cuisines Edit

The Jewish cuisine blends in a harmonious way the various culinary influences that belong to cultures and nations from numerous parts of the world – Middle East, Balkans, Galicia, Russia, Spain and Egypt all have culinary particularities which are reflected in the Jewish cuisine. Due to the Middle Eastern roots of the Jewish cuisine, the staple aliments garlic, leek and onions were integrated in the traditional meals. Along with history, the Jewish cuisine included aliments such as cucumbers, cereals, nuts, apples, honey and fish, which are the main ingredients for specific Jewish dishes of nowadays.

The bases of the Jewish culinary habits are represented by a religious prescription, meaning koshrut or kosher, which are the set of laws that set the permitted aliments for consuming. Based on these rules, the Jews exclude meals that combine the dairy products with the meat ones and exclude eating Pork, shellfish and other unkosher aliments.

The Jewish cuisine has a multitude of aspects, both historical and regional, which make this cuisine to seem a complex spectrum of culinary visions. In regions like Eastern Europe, where Jews are found in countries like Russia, Hungary and Romania, the Sabbath meals include the traditional shalet, which basically consists of potatoes, fat and meat, all cooked in the same pot. Kugel is also consumed in this area, and as well in the rest of Europe (Italy, Spain), under various forms, like the carrot kugel, the rice or the Potato kugel. The American Jews are mostly focused on meals as pastrami (made of chiefly red meat, with seasonings as basil and black pepper), lox (cured and cold-smoked salmon) and bagels (bread made of Wheat dough). The general meals that describe all the Jewish community of the world are the ones which are served on the special occasions and holidays. Among these, there are the latkes (Potato pancakes), matzo (bread made of plain flour and water), hamantasch (triangle cookie) and farfel (noodles with eggs and matzo bread). The Jewish cuisine is not so much focused on meat products, especially due to the old habits of the Middle Ages, which included meat dishes only on Sabbath and special holidays.

Jewish Food Glossary Edit

Because the laws of the kosher, any blood stain must be removed from the meat before cooking it – this is why the meat is always let for half an hour in water, before the actual process of cooking starts. The two kinds of animal products - meat and dairy are never incorporated in the same dish – vegetable oil is used for frying instead of butter and dressings exclude yoghurt or sour cream. Instead, these are used on various vegetable dishes. There are numerous dishes that require precooking, meticulousness and long cooking, especially the ones that are prepared for celebrations such as New Year’s Eve, Hanukkah and Passover. Finding the ingredients for an Jewish Recipe is not so easy when you do not know the names of the

ingredients. Take time to make a list of ingredients and the name they may be found under at the

Local Markets.

Preparation Methods for Jewish Cooking Edit

Because the laws of the kosher, any blood stain must be removed from the meat before cooking it – this is why the meat is always let for half an hour in water, before the actual process of cooking starts. The two kinds of animal products - meat and dairy are never incorporated in the same dish – vegetable oil is used for frying instead of butter and dressings exclude yoghurt or sour cream. Instead, these are used on various vegetable dishes. There are numerous dishes that require precooking, meticulousness and long cooking, especially the ones that are prepared for celebrations such as New Year’s Eve, Hanukkah and Passover.

Special Equipment for Jewish Cooking Edit

Jewish cuisine requires modern equipment for cooking the special dishes – this kind of equipment includes a wide range of instruments like sauce pans for vegetables and soups and large ones to preheat the oil for mixtures or meat. In some cases, the cooking procedure is realized simultaneously in different pots, so condensate pots, orifice plate, flow elements, catch pots in different shapes and sizes must be available at all times. The Jewish people are fond of art and the pottery and ceramics are part of their cultural cuisine, as presenting the foods in a traditional manner is as important as consuming them.

Jewish Food Traditions and Festivals Edit

The variety and spiritual importance of the Jewish holidays implies a very specialized and specific menu, following the saint kosher rules. On Hanukkah, the meals are based on the traditional Potato latkes, which are a valuable symbol of this culture. These latkes are made of grated potatoes, onions, eggs, flour, vegetable oil and spices and they are served with a sweet apple-pear sauce. One of the most festive desserts for Hanukkah is the ginger torte, which is prepared out of white flour, Sugar, eggs, both ground and chopped candied ginger, orange zest, almonds and powdered sugar for garnish. The Passover is a holiday of a high importance and food is one aspect which reflects even more the celebrated historical events. During the Passover week, the matzoh bread is the only one permitted; three such breads are placed in folds of napkins – two of them are consumed during the ceremony and one is kept as a prize.

People in Jewish Food Edit

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The Jewish people are characterized by a complete dedication to their culture, traditions and religion, which they are trying to value through their cuisine and eating habits. Following the kosher doesn’t mean limiting the culinary possibilities, but keeping alive the religion and its implications – this is most visible at the religious holidays, which are cherished by the Jewish people, as a representation of their main identity and specific history. Besides the cultural background, the Jewish people and chefs are creative and permanently in search of new culinary discoveries and explorations of aliments, tastes, flavors and aromas, that they can add to their rich cuisine.

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