Matzah balls, the only Eastern European food that crossed over to Sephardic cuisine.
While Ashkenazic Jews have enthusiastically adopted the spicy foods of Israeli’s Sephardic communities, there hasn’t been much culinary exchange from the other direction. Ordinarily, Sephardic Jews (Middle Eastern and North African origin) wrinkle their noses at the foods of Eastern European Jewry. Too bland, too sweet, too overcooked! We know this isn’t always so, but admit that Sephardic cuisine fits into Israel’s hot, dry climate perfectly.
There’s one Ashkenazic food that everyone in Israel loves, though, and that’s matzah balls. Come Passover, you can walk into a Yemenite or Moroccan housewife’s kitchen and see, floating in the soup pot, a batch of matzah-based dumplings made from a recipe that any Polish grandmother knows by heart. Your haroset may be based on dates or on fresh apples; you may chose to drink toxic kosher-for-Passover coke or healthy Syrian mint lemonade – your very matzah may look and taste different from your neighbors’ – but matzah balls are pretty much the same all over.
Traditional Passover Matzah Balls
This version uses olive oil instead of the traditional fat, shmaltz – rendered chicken fat.
2 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 scant cup matzah meal
1/4 – 1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (optional)
Combine the beaten eggs, oil, and matzah meal.
Add 1/4 cup water, salt, and ginger.If the mix seems stiff enough to roll into a hard ball, add more water by tablespoons till it’s a stiff batter, not a firm dough.
Cover the batter and put it in the fridge for 2 hours. This step is important if you want light matzah balls. The batter can rest, refrigerated, up to 8 hours or overnight.
Have a medium pot with plenty of boiling, lightly salted water ready. With wet hands, form walnut-sized balls of dough, and drop them in.
Cover and cook the matzah balls over a medium flame for 30 minutes. Lower the heat so that the water simmers after the initial boil.
Remove the matzah balls from the water and either set them aside for later or put them in your soup right away. They may be drained and frozen.
Matzah balls may be cooked directly in the soup, but the result is heavier.
Eco-Passover hints on Green Prophet:
- 10 Tips For Greening Your Passover
- Avoiding Food Waste On Passover
- Jewish Passover And The Environment
Image of matzah ball soup via Shutterstock.