Nida has graciously answered interview questions and I had every intention of posting them first, and then doing the review of her book, A Taste Of Israel. I was just going to quickly page through the recipe book to get a sense of who Nida is, but I could not put it down from page 1. The photography is amazing and Nida has written this recipe book as “an attempt at returning a piece of Jewish Heritage to the small but vibrant Jewish community in Lithuania”. Unbeknown to me, there is a Lithuanian Jewish Community in South Africa.
The recipe book is subtitled from classic Litvak to modern Israeli and was originally published in Nida’s home language of Lithuanian. Situated completely opposite Romania when you look at a map of the region, this book reminds me of my grandmother in so many ways. My grandfather was born in Romania, and my grandmother’s family were originally from there, before making their way to South Africa via Ireland and America. The recipes cover Shabbat, Rosh Hashonah, Sukkot, Hannukah, Purim, Pesach and Shavuot, and are from Jewish traditions all over the world. Nida explains what is Kosher food, and tells more about the festivals, as well as the tradition and history behind the recipes and the ingredients she uses. There are also ingredient substitutions where possible.
Starting with meze and appetisers and an explanation as to their difference, I am going to make the muhammara (p18) to go with our pitas (p240), and for the next High Holy Day I will make the chopped herring (p24). Moving onto breakfast the blintzes (p58) with sweet cottage cheese filling (p59) are high on my list of recipes to try as this takes me right back to my childhood, and I cannot remember having a blintz for ages. The fatoush (p68) and tabbouleh (p70) salads look delicious and perfect for a summer’s day. Neither can I resist trying Nida’s recipe for Jewish chicken soup (p85), kneidlach (p87) and kreplach (p88).
In the chapter on meat and poultry there is a recipe for cholent (p110) that is traditionally served for lunch on the Sabbath as well as beef tzimmes with prunes (p116) that is served over Passover. The recipe for chicken in sweet citrus fruits and anise sauce (p132) uses Arak and takes me back to my teenage visit to Israel and the amazing time we had there. Together with drinking Arak we ate a lot of shawarma’s (p168) which is a traditional street food together with felafel (p165). I am always intrigued by Sephardic foods, as these are not what I grew up with. The Sephardic-style baked fish (p152) will be made in my house for sure. I did not find one recipe to list here from the vegetarian dishes or latkes and tray bakes. Not because they did not look or sound good, but because nothing jumped out at me. But when it came to the baked goods, there were a lot I would try. First the teiglach (p242) and then the rugelach (p245), followed by the imberlach (p252) which is a sweet made from carrots. To erase my childhood memory of poppy seeds I will try the hamantash (p255) and to create a new memory I will make the dried fruit and nut cake (p262). The chocolate-coconut torte (p268) is a must try in my opinion. To end there are the the extra’s and I will be making the hot beetroot (p278) and zhug (p279) before too long.
First published in Lithuania in 2014
Hard cover – 285 pages (including the index)
What I blogged September 23:
- three years ago – Interview With Alida Ryder
- four years ago – Red Pepper, Sausage And Rocket Pizza
- five years ago – Chilli Prawn Soup