Spice up your New Year celebrations
Make the most of the early chagim by choosing these summery, Sephardi flavours for gatherings on the High Holy Days
This version of harissa — also called Felfel uciuma — is a key ingredient in Libyan Jewish cuisine. It is simple, without many ingredients, with a real kick of hot spicy chilli. The lemon gives flavour and helps preserve it for a long time if chilled. Once you learn how to make this simple recipe you’ll always have a little jar in the fridge which you can use to spice up any of your dishes.
Preparation: 10 minutes
Makes: a 100ml jar, approximately
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 lemons, juice only
½ tsp salt
3 tbsp dry chilli, powder or crushed
Extra virgin olive oil to cover the jar
l Mix the crushed garlic, lemon juice, salt and chilli using a pestle and mortar or an electric hand blender until you have a smooth paste.
l Put it in a clean glass jar, drizzle some extra virgin olive oil to cover and close with a lid.
l It will last up to 3-4 months in the fridge. l Use a teaspoon or two anytime you want to add a spicy flavour to your dishes.
It is a Sephardi tradition to eat pumpkin on Rosh Hashanah, as a symbofor prosperity and happiness. This dip is a Libyan Jewish recipe usually served as a starter or to accompany couscous with a main course. Tuershi is the name for many Middle Eastern pickled dishes. This dish is slightly different as it is not purely pickled and it is simple and fat-free. I wish you ala prosperous and happy New Year!
Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 20 minutes plus cooling
600-700g peeled pumpkin/butternut squash
1 tsp salt
1 tsp harissa (recipe above)
1 tsp caraway or cumin powder
Juice of 1 lemon
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley to decorate (optional)
Remove the seeds from the pumpkin/butternut squash; rinse and cut it into thick slices.
Fila saucepan with water, bring to the boil, add the salt and the pumpkin. Partially cover and cook over low medium heat for 15-20 minutes untivery tender. Drain and mash with a fork.
Leave it to cooin a colander so it keeps draining water. When cold, put in a bowand add the harissa, the caraway/cumin and the lemon juice. Stir weland add more salt or spices to taste.
Transfer to a smalserving bowand drizzle on top a little extra virgin olive oiand the parsley.
Serve at room temperature as a starter or with couscous and a main course.
Za’atar spiced lamb chops
Za’atar is a spice mix used in Middle Eastern cooking; its ingredients can vary by region. You can find it in some supermarkets, online or in Middle Eastern grocers.
The za’atar mix that I use is made with wild thyme and sumac mixed with roasted sesame seeds and salt.
It’s great in marinades, and fantastic with yoghurt or as a dip for bread.
Preparation: 1 hour or overnight to marinate
Cooking: 18-20 minutes
6 lamb chops
2 tbsp olive oil
1 sprig of rosemary, leaves picked
2 garlic cloves
Sea salt and black pepper
Preheat your grilto hot.
Rinse and pat dry the chops. Brush both sides with the olive oiand crushed garlic.
Season generously with za’atar, salt and pepper.
Scatter the rosemary over the chops.
Marinate the meat at room temperature for about 1 hour, or seain a food bag and marinate overnight. Allow to come up to room temperature before cooking.
Place under the preheated grill.
Cook for 9-10 minutes on each side if you like them weldone or 6-8 minutes if you prefer them pink.
When done, the lamb chops should be browned on alsides and the juices should run clear.
Cover, and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Beef, spinach and bean couscous
This dish — known as Couscous Pkeila in Tunisia — works best in a pressure cooker. If you don’t have one cook it in a large, non-stick pot — the meat for 1½ to 2 hours plus another 45 minutes for the beans.
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: with pressure cooker: 1½ hours; without: 2 to 2½ hours
8 tbsp sunflower oil
800g beef (cholent or goulash cut) in 8 large pieces
80g frozen or fresh leaf spinach, washed and drained
1 tbsp harissa
400g kidney beans
1 tbsp turmeric
15g coriander, chopped
In a pressure cooker, fry the onion with the oil, on a medium heat untibrowned.
Add the spinach, and fry for 10 minutes more, stirring regularly; then add the meat and cook for another 10 minutes.
Season with the harissa, salt, pepper and turmeric.
Pour on 2 litres of cold water — enough to cover the meat and spinach completely.
Cover with the lid, let it boil, and then close the pressure cooker and cook for one hour.
After one hour, open the pressure cooker, add the beans and an extra 500mof water. Cook for another half hour untithe beans are soft. Taste, and season if necessary.
Serve sprinkled with coriander and with the couscous.
Preparation: 10 mins
Cooking: 30 mins
Steaming the couscous gives a lighter and more fluffy grain than by simply rehydrating it with boiling water. You wilneed a steamer or saucepan with a lid and a sieve large enough for 500g of couscous.
500g of fine or medium couscous
6 – 8 tbsp sunflower oil
Bring a large saucepan of
water to the boil.
In a bowl, wash the couscous and drain.
Add salt, a good shake of pepper and the oil.
Mix everything with your hands.
Put the couscous in a sieve over the pan of boiling water and cover it with the lid.
Steam with the lid on for approximately 30 minutes, stirring regularly.
Sweet potato and coconut gratin
This is a great side dish to serve with fish, chicken or red meat and can be served warm or cold. If you like, garnish it with toasted chopped pecans.
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 60 minutes
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced on a mandolin
2 onions, finely sliced
2 tbsp coconut oi
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large handfuof coriander, finely chopped
2 tsp palm sugar
60g fine semolina
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
Sauté the onions in a non-stick frying pan untisoft and translucent, then season to taste with salt, white pepper and chilli flakes.
Add the crushed garlic, palm sugar and chopped coriander to the onions and continue to cook over a gentle heat. Set aside.
In a 23cm/9-inch circular or ovaPyrex dish, lay the sautéed onions around the base.
Cover with the sliced sweet potatoes overlapping in a concertina, seasoning with salt and black pepper, as you layer each level.
Pour over the coconut milk to cover the sweet potatoes.
In a smalbowseason the semolina with salt and white pepper, then sprinkle over the top of the sweet potatoes.
Bake, uncovered, for about 60 minutes, rotating the pan in the oven halfway to ensure uniform baking.
When the potatoes are tender and the topping is crisp and golden brown, remove from the oven and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes so the potatoes can absorb any extra liquid.