Passover has begun and while Easter ham, hot cross buns and egg salad are tasty for sure, but they’ve got nothing on traditional Passover food. Good Jewish food that isn’t latkes, bagels & lox or knishes…seriously? It’s enough to make you (insert overly Yiddish phrase gentiles think Jewish people actually say)!
7. Matzah Brei
What is it?: Jewish French toast. I should stop right there, but I can’t, because I need to tell you about this delicious breakfast treat. Though there are many recipes including some savory ones, my favorite is the French toast kind. Matzo is softened in milk, broken into pieces, mixed with egg and then pan-fried in butter. Then, it’s topped with cinnamon and sugar, fruit jelly or syrup.
How’s it pronounced?: Maht-zah bry.
Bonus: Matzah brei means “fried matzah.” Recipe here.
Another dish with a thousand different iterations, this is a spread made from chopped walnuts and apples that are spiced with cinnamon, sweet wine and honey. It’s often eaten on matzoh like a sweet, hearty cracker topping. In other parts of the world, it’s made with ingredients like raisins, figs, dates, almonds, chestnuts and even coconut.
How’s it pronounced?: If you’re under 40, it’s chhhhhharoset. (The “ch” is throaty, in case you couldn’t tell.) If you’re over 40, though, it’s charoses. Why? It’s honestly not worth going into. Recipe here.
5. Pot Roast
Consider this Jewish BBQ. But instead of sweet, sticky barbecue sauce, the brisket is cooked low and slow and served in velvety gravy with soft, beef-flavored potato, carrot, onion and celery. Recipe here.
4. Stuffed Cabbage
Ground beef, white rice, onion, egg and parsley are placed lovingly inside blanched cabbage leaves which are stewed in a sweet, raisin-filled tomato sauce, then served steaming hot. Just like in the old country. Recipe here.
This is a traditional stew of beef, potatoes, beans and barley that is simmered for 12+ hours until the ingredients permeate, creating a hearty dish with a unique flavor. It may or may not be the reason the crock pot was invented.
How’s it pronounced: Nope, it’s not pronounced with that throaty “ch” sound you think it is. Say it with a Scottish accent and you’ve pretty much nailed it.
Fun Fact Update: OK, so we were just testing your Jewish culinary knowledge. Cholent is actually Kosher for the Sabbath, NOT Passover. But it’s still delicious!Recipe here.
2. Coconut Macaroons
Though there are many desserts served at Passover seders all around the world, the most popular is the coconut macaroon. Egg whites, sugar and shredded coconut are baked together into a soft, chewy, sweet cookie. These are most certainly not the coconut macaroons you find in the grocery store. Alternately, some recipes call for sweetened condensed milk, the addition of nuts, or for the finished cookie to be dipped in chocolate.
How it’s pronounced: No, they’re not (and they don’t pretend to be) the fancy, French ma-ca-rohns. They are ma-ca-rooooons. Recipe here.
1. Matzah Ball Soup
Yet another amazing dish made with the ubiquitous Jewish cracker everyone knows and loves. Matzah balls are a soup dumpling made from matzah meal, eggs, water and rendered chicken fat (or just butter or oil). They’re dropped into a pot of chicken soup, then swell to a proud ball size. They’ll either be light or dense, depending on the recipe, and from what I’m told the battle for which is best has been an epic struggle between many Jews for many years. Matzah balls are served in a chicken soup that usually contains carrots, onion, celery and dill. Recipe here.