Matzah Ball Soup
Matzah balls are more traditionally known as knaydelach (Yiddish for dumplings). Matzah ball soup is generally a very thin chicken broth with two or three ping-pong-ball sized matzah balls (or sometimes one very large matzah ball) in it. Sometimes, a few large pieces of carrot or celery are added. Matzah balls can be very soft and light or firm and heavy -- sometimes the two types are referred to as "floaters and sinkers." Matzah ball soup is a staple at all Jewish holidays.
Baba Ganouj (Eggplant with Tehina)
In Israel, it is not unusual for guests to drop in for a visit without prior notice. In such cases, they are likely to get a light snack or impromptu meal. In anticipation of such contingencies, one such prepared dish is baba ghanouj, which can be found in virtually every Israeli refrigerator.
Haroset is a mixture of fruit, nuts, and wine, which are finely chopped or blended into a paste-like consistency. Haroset is meant to look like the mortar that the enslaved Israelites were forced to use to build Egyptian cities. However, Haroset tastes sweet, which reminds us that even in bitter times, we can always find something sweet in our lives and that bitter times are eventually followed by the sweetness of salvation.
Throughout the Western world people eat crepe suzettes. Blintzes are the Jewish eastern European version of the French treat. The word "blintz" comes from a Ukrainian word meaning "pancake." The Israeli bent on having a light meal in the evening, after a theater performance or movie, will choose from among a number of specialty restaurants serving this delicacy with a choice of several different fillings.
After its independence, Israel discovered a new Jewish community -- the Cochin Jews of India. Tradition has it that these Jews were exiled to India after the destruction of the Second Temple. Though outwardly resembling Indians, the Cochin Jews maintain their distinctive tradition. One of their principal dishes is chicken curry which has now been incorporated into Israeli cuisine.
Shakshouka (Egg in Tomato Sauce)
A Sephardi favorite. No Middle Eastern restaurant menu is complete without it, though Hungarians also delight in this dish with the addition of lots of paprika. Leshakshek means "to shake" in Hebrew. Every cook from North Africa has his or her own personal version of this egg and tomato dish.
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