Cuisine of the Sephardic Jews – Wikipedia, the free …

Posted By on April 14, 2014

The cuisine of the Sephardi Jews is an assortment of cooking traditions that developed among the Jews of Spain, Portugal, the Mediterranean (Turkey, Greece, Maghreb) and Arab countries.[1] Mizrahi, who are sometimes called Sephardic Jews, are Jews of origins from countries of the Middle-East, respectively. While there is some overlap in populations due to the Sephardic Diaspora, Sephardic Jews settled in many other countries as well, and this article deals only with the populations originating in the Iberian Peninsula.

Jews in the Diaspora, both Ashkenazim and Sephardim, cooked foods that were popular in their countries of residence, adapting them to the requirements of kashrut. Their choice of foods was also determined by economic factors, with many of the dishes based on inexpensive and readily available ingredients. Meat had to be slaughtered in keeping with Jewish dietary laws, and then soaked and salted. Hence it was reserved for holidays and special occasions. Many Sephardi dishes use ground meat. Milk and meat products could not be mixed or served at the same meal. Cooked, stuffed and baked vegetables are central to the cuisine, as are various kinds of beans, chickpeas, lentils and burghul (cracked wheat). Rice takes the place of potatoes.

Sephardi Jews are the Jews of Spain and Portugal who were expelled in 1492, many of whom settled in Tunisia, Turkey and the Balkans. The Spanish and Portuguese Jews and Ladino-speaking Balkan, Moroccan, Tunisian, Greek and Turkish Jews are, by this convention, called "Sephardim", while the remaining Jews of Arab countries in the middle east are called "Mizrahim." In this sense, "Sephardi cuisine" would refer only to the culinary traditions of the first group.

Both the Jews of the Iberian Peninsula and the Jews of Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria, Egypt and Greece adapted local dishes to the constraints of the kosher kitchen. Since the establishment of a Jewish state and the convergence of Jews from all the globe in Israel, these local cuisines, with all their differences, have come to represent the collection of culinary traditions broadly known as "Sephardi cuisine."

Sephardi cuisine emphasizes salads, stuffed vegetables and vine leaves, olive oil, lentils, fresh and dried fruits, herbs and nuts, and chickpeas. Meat dishes often make use of lamb or ground beef. Fresh lemon juice is added to many soups and sauces. Many meat and rice dishes incorporate dried fruits such as apricots, prunes and raisins. Pine nuts are used as a garnish.

In the early days, Sephardic cuisine was influenced by the local cuisines of Spain and Portugal, both under Catholic and Islamic regimes. A particular affinity to exotic foods from outside of Spain became apparent under Muslim rule, as evidenced even today with ingredients brought in by the Muslims.[2]

Cumin, cilantro, and turmeric are very common in Sephardi cooking. Caraway and capers were brought to Spain by the Muslims and are featured in the cuisine.[2]Cardamom ("hel") is used to flavor coffee. Chopped fresh cilantro and parsley are popular garnishes. Chopped mint is added to salads and cooked dishes, and fresh mint leaves ("nana") are served in tea. Cinnamon is sometimes used as a meat seasoning, especially in dishes made with ground meat. Saffron, which is grown in Spain is used in many varieties of Sephardic cooking, as well as spices found in the areas where they have settled.

Tiny cups of Turkish coffee, sometimes spiced with cardamom, are often served at the end of a festive meal, accompanied by small portions of baklava or other pastries dipped in syrup or honey. Hot sahlab, a liquidy cornstarch pudding originally flavored with orchid powder (today invariably replaced by artificial flavorings), is served in cups as a winter drink, garnished with cinnamon, nuts, coconut and raisins. Arak is the preferred alcoholic beverage. Rosewater is a common ingredient in cakes and desserts. Malabi, a cold cornstarch pudding, is sprinkled with rosewater and red syrup.(all these dishes and ingredients constitute the adopted dishes of the local population where the Jewish population settled)

Olives and pickled vegetables, such as cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, are a standard accompaniment to meals. Amba is a pickled mango sauce. Small pickled lemons are a Tunisian and Moroccan delicacy.

On Shabbat, the Jews of North Africa in Tunisia and Morocco serve chreime, fish in a spicy tomato sauce.


Cuisine of the Sephardic Jews - Wikipedia, the free ...

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