Sephardic Jewish Kitchen

While the Jewish community was cooking under Roman influence in the north of the Iberian-Andalusian Peninsula in the Middle Ages; more traces of Islam are observed in the south. The Romans established vineyards, planted olive trees and planted wheat. Arabs planted rice and sugarcane, and grew almonds, citrus fruits, eggplant, spinach and artichokes. They also incorporated the habits of adding spices such as cumin, cinnamon, saffron, and black pepper to dishes and double cooking (frying and then cooking). Almost all of these habits were included in the Sephardi cuisine and they were enriched by the cultures of the countries settled in exile.

Apart from the words albondiga (meat patties), alcachofas (artichokes), arroz (rice), almendras (almond), azafran (saffron), naranjas (citrus) originating from the Arabic culture, agrista (egg and lemon mixture) and alioli are two egg-based Arabic sauces. The words (garlic mayonnaise) have taken their place in Sephardic Jewish cuisine.

Another feature of this cuisine is that chicken, fish, meat and vegetables are cooked “in their own taste”, that is; without using mixed spices, only with the addition of salt, black pepper and mostly lemon. Sometimes parsley can be used if needed.

At first glance, these dishes do not look different from those in other cuisines. However, the “Kosher” habit that of centuries makes these dishes a little different. This difference comes from the health measures mentioned in the Torah. Everyday meals and celebration tables are prepared in the light of these rules. According to the principles of Kosher, only ruminant, cleft-hoofed and non-hunted animals and finned and scaly fish can be eaten. Animals are slaughtered by specially educated butchers with the aim of minimizing pain, and after determining their suitability for health, they are labeled “Kosher”.  The rule of not eating meat and milk together, based on the sentence “you will not cook the goat in his mother’s milk” in the Torah, is also an important point to be considered in Jewish kitchen.

İzmir Sephardic Cuisine With its Lost and Existing 100 Recipes
Nuket Franko