Picture yourself in a foreign land where you know few people, if anyone. You might eat out in restaurant after restaurant, and never taste the best food in that country. Or you might be lucky enough to be invited to someone’s home and eat a home cooked meal – humble or fancy – and get a real taste of what the local cuisine is all about.
All around the world, Jews will be celebrating Chanukkah this week. Many will invite friends and strangers to share their family meal and their traditions. And the meal will celebrate Jewish cuisine from all over the world. British cookery writer Evelyn Rose captured that spirit of hospitality and vitality in her great cookbook, The Complete International Jewish Cookbook (1976).
Her daughter and collaborator, Judi Rose has edited that large volume down to the essential 100 Best Jewish Recipes: Traditional and Contemporary Kosher Cuisine from Around the World (Interlink 2015). It is a celebration of the Rose family favorite recipes and a celebration of the accomplishments of her mother:
When my mother wrote these recipes she also added her zest for life, a taste for adventure, and her own unique qualities, devotion to her craft, commitments to her readers, and an extra ingredient of her own – a large helping of love…(p. 7)
Start with Small Plates like Chatzilim “Poor Man’s Caviar” (p. 18) similar to Baba ganoush or Syrian Cheese Puffs (p. 28) cheddar cheese filled turnovers. Then travel north and serve Hobene Gropen or Beef Soup with Oats (p. 40): “This is a creamy-textured soup that is especially rich in B vitamins,” writes Evelyn. If it is not too chilly outside, try a bright Borscht on the Rocks (p. 42).
Within a few pages of the poultry section, Evelyn will take you through Europe and part of Asia. It starts with Pollo En Pepitoria (p. 53) a Spanish dish in which ground almonds thicken a white wine sauce. Next, travel to the coast of Turkey for Chicken Izmir (p. 54) on a bed of eggplant. Then, on to Hungary with Sirke Paprikash (p. 56) and Iran with Khoresh Portagal or sweet and sour Persian chicken (p. 57) flavored with oranges, nutmeg, cinnamon, and paprika. None of the dishes are hard to put together on a weekday, but you might want to keep them for a special occasion.
There is a handy chapter in the back of the book called Basics, with recipes for dishes like Couscous, Turkish Rice Pilaf, Persian Chilau Rice and Persian Chello Rice. These are simple recipes with clear instructions for anyone starting out in the kitchen or trying a new way of cooking grains.
100 Best Jewish Recipes is a cookbook for everyday Kosher cooking or for inspiration for a special holiday meal. Make these recipes and you will be traveling around the world, privileged to eat at the best tables in town.