I am introducing this as a “guide” ONLY and some of the foods and expressions are NOT necessarily traditional but used in a Jewish home frequently.
Before we start, note that there is a BIG difference in foods between Ashkenazic and Sephardic Jews. As Jews lived in many communities around the world some of the local foods are also favorite Jewish dishes. This explains the different kinds of foods listed below:
Used to describe Jews of Eastern and Central Europe.
BABAGHANOUJ (ALTERNATE SPELLING: BHABA GANOUSH, BABAGANOUSH)
Mediterranean dip made of roasted, pureed eggplant.
Yeasted coffee cake from Poland. May be flavored with cinnamon, chocolate, or lemon, and filled with cheese or fruit.
Circular bread with a hole in the center that originated in Poland. Dough is first boiled and then baked for a chewy interior and crispy exterior.
Aramaic for egg, also means, “to entreat”
Named for the city of Bialystok, where it originated. Softer than a bagel, with an indentation rather than a hole in the center.
A relative of the Hungarian crepe known as palascinta. Thin pancake filled with cheese, fruit or minced meat. If meat, it generally would be served in chicken soup.
Yeast round cinnamon buns generally made on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Lovely to make for tea all year round.
Beet soup of Eastern European origin. Served cold with sour cream/ordinary cream or hot with a plain boiled potato.
Cracked wheat. A key ingredient in tabbouleh.
(Alternate spelling: Boreka): Small, half-moon-shaped pastries filled with cheese, spinach, eggplant, potato or meat. One can make your own filling. Common to Jews of the Iberian Peninsula.
Italian word for artichokes, the star ingredient in a dish known as carciofi alla guidia, or Jewish-style artichokes—the only dish widely-recognized as Jewish in Italy.
Mixture of carrots and honey. Served any time of the year as are really all the tzimmes dishes but nice for Pesach.
CHALLAH OR SOMETIMES REFERRED TO AS KITKAH
Ashkenazic egg bread. Typically made in braided form for the Sabbath, and in circular form for the Jewish New Year (to remind us of the circular nature of life.).
Mixture of nuts, dates, apples, cinnamon, honey and wine (Ashkenazic version) or dried fruits and raisins (Sephardic version) eaten on Passover.
A Mediterranean dip made from eggplant.
Romaine lettuce (bitter herb).
A Jewish home without cheese cake is not a home. Made either baked of fridge. Cheese cakes are also traditionally made on the festival of Shavuot where we eat only cheese / milk dishes
Traditional on festivals and generally anytime.
Side dish for Cholent – clean crushed wheat as for rice, onions and spices.
Ashkenazic version of the French cassoulet. Stew consisting of meat, potatoes, and beans simmered overnight. Typically served on the Sabbath.
Minced salted herrings, onions, boiled eggs and a binding agent eg: slices of bread or Marie biscuits.
Horseradish very finely grated preserved as a pickle.
Matzo balls fried. Served on Passover.
Served traditionally on Passover.
An Eastern European dessert made of stewed fruits, dried or fresh.
Moroccan dish of tiny semolina grains, commonly used in Sephardi.
DAFINA (OR D’FINA)
Sephardic version of cholent.
Salted herrings chopped into pieces with apples, onions, green peppers, pickled cucumber and soaked in a vinegar tomato sauce,
Yiddish and German word for “eat.”
(Alternate spelling: Esrog) Hebrew word for citron, a rare citrus fruit that resembles a lemon (with coarser skin). Used in the festival of Sukkot.
Middle Eastern fritter. Typically made with ground chick peas in Israel, but with ground fava beans elsewhere in the Middle East.
Grated dough generally served in soup on Rosh Hashanah.
Yiddish word for meat, or meals containing meat ingredients.
Yiddish verb for overeating.
Literally, “potted meat.” Refers to tough cuts of meat, such as brisket, that are braised and then cooked for hours to soften.
A Shabbat dish but also made on the holidays. Literally, “stuffed fish.” A mixture of ground fish–typically, pike, carp, and whitefish–that traditionally was stuffed back into a fish skin.
One can then also make fried gefilte fish – fish balls or fish cakes.
Yiddish word for “chopped,” as in chopped liver.
Chopped liver. A coarse version of calf or chicken livers, fried in onions and finely minced with boiled egg.
A snack – Matzo cut into squares and spread with a cream cheese mixture and baked. Made on Passover.
Crispy bits of fried chicken skin. Typically found in schmaltz.
Triangular pastries stuffed with jam, poppy seeds, cheese or honey (or any sweet filling of your choice, even Nutella). Eaten on Purim to remind us of the villain Haman in the Purim story.
Sephardic hard-boiled eggs colored a deep russet with onion peels. Traditionally served at the Passover seder to remind us of the circular nature of life.
Stuffed cabbage leaves with meat generally.
Mediterranean dip made of pureed chick peas and tahini (or tahina) made from sesame seeds. Also used in wraps or other Mediterranean dishes.
Made for the holidays – mainly Pesach and Rosh Hashanah but not strictly only then. Grated carrots, orange, lemon, ginger and sugar – served as a “sweet”.
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Buckwheat groats. Now popularized as “health food.” Commonly eaten in Eastern Europe.
System of Jewish dietary laws.
Chunks of marinated meat grilled on a skewer. Popular street food in Israel.
Very thin baked biscuit served with chopped liver, chopped and Danish Herring any time of the year. It is coated in sugar.
Dish made of stuffed beef casings. Also used for stuffing in general.
Yiddish word for matzo balls. Typically served in chicken soup or as a side dish for roasted meats.
Small pastry typically stuffed with potatoes, kasha, meat, or other vegetables. May be deep-fried (Coney Island style) or baked.
Coarse salt used to remove blood from meat in order to make it fit according to Jewish dietary laws. Also used in dishwashers, and as a coarse cooking salt.
Jewish version of wonton or ravioli. Simple dough stuffed with a mixture of ground meat–typically liver–and onions. Served floating in chicken soup or as a side dish.
Polish word for barley soup.
KUBNEH (ALTERNATE SPELLING: KUBANEH)
Sweet Yemenite bread prepared for the Sabbath and typically eaten with zhoug.
Jewish version of a casserole, often with a pudding-like consistency. May be made with rice, noodles, vegetables, or potatoes. Served on Shabbos, festivals or any time. For Passover (Pesach), flour is substituted for matzo meal. Matzo meal is kept by a lot of members of the faith throughout the year to make various dishes.
Crispy potato pancake fried in oil. Typically served for Chanukkah.
Home-made yogurt cheese common in the Middle East.
Honey cake. Traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) for a sweet year. Also made for breaking of the Fast (Yom Kippur).
Yiddish word for “noodles.”
Smoked and salted salmon.
MADBACHAI (TURKISH SALAD)
Served also with humus and tahina and lots of breads.
Used in clear soup. Yiddish – farfel.
Yiddish word for almonds.
The Jewish version of biscotti. Crispy cookies with almonds.
Unleavened bread eaten at Passover to remind the Jews of the haste with which they left slavery.
Moroccan Potato Kugel.
Refers to wines that are rendered kosher by the process of boiling.
Yiddish word for dairy foods or meals with dairy ingredients.
Yiddish noun for a little bite to eat–there are no calories in a nosh, incidentally–or verb for the act of snacking.
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PAREVE (ALTERNATE SPELLING: PARVE)
Hebrew word for “neutral” foods that are neither meat nor dairy, such as fish, fruits, vegetables, and eggs.
Pastry filled with minced meat and served in soup.
Calves’ foot jelly.
Middle Eastern flat bread with a pocket. Typically used for sandwiches containing falafel or schwarma meat.
South African dish. Dough rolled out thinly, fried and sprinkled with nuts, honey or syrup.
Tiny soup croutons. Served in soup.
Generally a Passover “sweet”. Made with apricots.
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Small pastries made from rich cream cheese dough and filled with jam, chocolate, honey, or nuts.
A Russian soup with a pungent, tangy kick from its main ingredient, a sour grass called sorrell.
Yiddish word for rendered chicken fat. Gives incomparable flavor to traditional dishes. May be served with gribenes.
Used to describe all Jews who are not from Eastern and Central Europe. Sepharad means Spain in Hebrew–thus, the term originally referred to Jews from Spain and their descendants who lived in Greece, Turkey, and other Mediterranean countries after the expulsion in 1492.
Jews from the Mediterranean and Asia.
The Sabbath; the divinely-ordained day of rest on the seventh day of the week starting Friday evening till Saturday evening.
Matzah which has been made from grain which was guarded from the time of either reaping or grinding to ensure that it never came into contact with water or other liquids, to prevent it from rising.
SOOM SOOM (ALTERNATE SPELLING: SUM SUM)
Hebrew word for sesame seeds.
A topping to put on a challah of babkah.
Israeli doughnuts typically eaten on Chanukkah.
TABBOULEH (ALTERNATE SPELLING: TABOULI)
Cracked wheat salad typically made with parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, and mint.
TAHINI (ALTERNATE SPELLING: TEHINA)
Middle Eastern condiment made of ground sesame seeds. Common topping for falafel.
A ginger circular biscuit coated in very thick gingery syrup, served mainly on holidays – Russian or Lithuanian origin.
TRAYF (ALTERNATE SPELLING: TREIF)
Refers to non-kosher food.
Literally “a fuss” in Yiddish. A medley of vegetables (typically root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnip, carrots) simmered with prunes or other dried fruit. Typically served at Rosh Hashanah for a sweet new year.
A beef or brisket tzimmes can also be made using the above ingredients also.
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Bow-tie pasta (farfalle in Italian). Typically served with kasha.
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There are no Terms here at this time.
YOICH (ALTERNATE SPELLING: YUCH)
Yiddish word for chicken soup.
Israeli spice mixture used for seasoning meats and flat breads (pita).
Fiery Yemenite condiment made of ground hot peppers.
Composed by: Hannah Frank Witt