Traditional Meets Modern: Celebrating the Food of Rosh Hashanah

The Shofar is blown in a synagogue during Rosh Hashana. Image courtesy of How Stuff Works.

The Shofar is blown in a synagogue during Rosh Hashana. Image courtesy of How Stuff Works.

L’Shanah Tovah![1] It is the first full day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Jews around the world are celebrating with introspection, prayers for renewal and food having meaning and symbolism for the holiday. Rosh Hashanah is a two day celebration beginning on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishrei. It is the first of the High Holy Days, which end with Yom Kippur. This year, according to the secular calendar, it began at sunset on September 4th and will finish at nightfall on September 6th, but these dates change every year due to the differences between the Hebrew and Gregorian calendars. The three pillars of Rosh Hashanah are repentance, prayer and charity. During this time one is expected to take stock of the past year and develop a spiritual plan that will incorporate these pillars for the coming year. No work is permitted during the holiday and much of it is spent in prayers and at the synagogue. A main feature of the prayers is the blowing of the Shofar- the ritual ram’s horn. The Shofar is mentioned several times in the Hebrew Bible and Talmud and is used to announce and observe many Jewish holidays. The sounding of the Shofar symbolizes a fresh beginning in which observers recommit themselves to religious values and priorities.

Food during Rosh Hashanah has special significance. Eating sweet foods symbolizes desire for a sweet new year, so apples dipped in honey is a featured dish. The pomegranate is also included for its wholesome properties and religious significance. This fruit has been represented as having 613 seeds (although this is a traditional rather than factual count),  which is the number of mitzvot (commandments or good deeds) in the Torah. Today, adventurous new chefs are taking these and other important Rosh Hashanah ingredients and creating menus full of dishes sure to thrill the pickiest palate. Here are two recipes that put an innovative twist on these traditional ingredients. Enjoy!

To read more about Rosh Hashanah and its meaning visit: http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/09/03/rosh-Hashanah-guide-for-the-perplexed-2013/.

To see pictures of Rosh Hashanah around the world visit: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/rosh-Hashanah-around-the-world/2011/09/29/gIQA4T5O7K_gallery.html#photo=4

Recipes


Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce (and pomegranate seeds)

eggplant with buttermilk sauceServes 4 as a starter

Ingredients

  • 2 large and long eggplants
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs to garnish
  • Maldon sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 tsp za’atar 

Sauce

  • 9 tbsp buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle to finish
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 200°F. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways, cutting straight through the green stalk (the stalk is for the look; don’t eat it). Use a small sharp knife to make three or four parallel incisions in the cut side of each eggplant half, without cutting through to the skin. Repeat at a 45-degree angle to get a diamond-shaped pattern.

Place the eggplant halves, cut-side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them with olive oil—keep on brushing until all of the oil has been absorbed by the flesh. Sprinkle with the lemon thyme leaves and some salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, at which point the flesh should be soft, flavorful and nicely browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool down completely.

While the eggplants are in the oven, cut the pomegranate into two horizontally. Hold one half over a bowl, with the cut side against your palm, and use the back of a wooden spoon or a rolling pin to gently knock on the pomegranate skin. Continue beating with increasing power until the seeds start coming out naturally and falling through your fingers into the bowl. Once all are there, sift through the seeds to remove any bits of white skin or membrane.

To make the sauce. Whisk together all of the ingredients. Taste for seasoning, then keep cold until needed.

To serve, spoon plenty of buttermilk sauce over the eggplant halves without covering the stalks. Sprinkle za’atar and plenty of pomegranate seeds on top and garnish with lemon thyme. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
Read more at http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/holidays/highholydays/yotam-ottolenghi-middle-eastern-rosh-Hashanah-menu/recipes/food/views/Eggplant-with-Buttermilk-Sauce-365110#ixzz2dx9lInNv

Honey Baked Chicken with Tangy Apple

honey-chickenTip: The tart apples, cooked with shallots and mustard, can also be served with other proteins, such as salmon, turkey or duck.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • One 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 425˚ F and arrange a rack in the top third of the oven. In a wide, ovenproof skillet or small (9-by-13-inch) roasting pan, toss the chicken pieces with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season them well with salt and pepper. Arrange the pieces skin side up and drizzle 1 tablespoon of the honey over them.

Roast, basting occasionally during the second half of the cooking, until the juices run clear when the thigh or leg is pierced, about 50 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt and sauté until the shallots are translucent, 2 minutes. Add the apple slices and sauté until they begin to soften, 3 minutes. Stir in the broth, lemon juice, mustard and remaining tablespoon of honey. Simmer, stirring, until the sauce has thickened and the apples are tender, about 3 more minutes.

3. To serve, transfer the apple mixture to a deep platter and arrange the chicken on top.


1. Meaning “for a good year”, a common greeting during Rosh Hashanah.

One response to “Traditional Meets Modern: Celebrating the Food of Rosh Hashanah

  1. Pingback: Bon Appetit Wednesday! Rosh Hashanah Around the World: Ancient Influences, Modern Recipes | AntiquityNOW

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