Both of us love connecting to our Judaism through cooking. Ellie has written and edited cookbooks on the nexus of Jewish identity and food, while Crystal enjoys modifying and experimenting with recipes, especially challah and pies. As Hanukkah is deeply entwined with food, especially fried food, we've found some delicious Sephardic recipes to add to your celebration, sourced with permission from Hélène Jawhara Piñer's cookbook, Sephardi: Cooking the History. Hélène says that learning about Sephardic recipes is important, partially because, "transmission is at the heart of the Jewish tradition... learning [to make Sephardic] recipes is important [to ensure our] culinary heritage." So, get some oil ready and join us as we delve into the delicious variety of fried desserts that Sephardic cuisine has to offer!
This dish's name comes from the Arabic word for "composed," which is fitting as the impressiveness of this recipe does not necessarily come from the dough or the topping, but the way it's made. This sweet fried dessert has been prepared in much the same way by Moroccan Sephardic Jews for generations: frying layers of dough together by flipping the confection upside down when each new layer is added.
This dish is a familiar Purim favorite in Sephardic culture. Just as this treat is known by many names, it can be made for many different holidays. This dish is made of thin rolled strips of pastry dough which is fried and covered in sugar. The fact that they are fried in oil makes them perfect for Hanukkah, while their characteristic shape is reminiscent of Esther's megillah, the scroll read during Purim. Whenever you choose to enjoy these, you will love their tenderness and the way they melt in your mouth!
This pastry, also known as sfenğ, is commonly made by Jews and Muslims in Morocco and Israel. The recipe dates to 13th century Al-Andalus. The dish is now prepared year-round by street food vendors in Morocco but is considered a Hanukkah staple among Moroccan and Israeli Jewish households.
This dessert hails from northwestern Spain. A little-known fact about nuegados is that they were used as a litmus test for Spanish Jews and conversos during the Spanish Inquisition. Merely giving these delicious pastries to someone could cause someone to be reported to the authorities, which was what happened to Diego Arias from Medina de Campo in 1490. Nuegados are also mentioned in the book "La Lozana Andaluzia" by Spanish converso Francisco Delicado. When the main character flees from Andalusia to Rome, she tells the women there how she learned to make these treats from her grandmother.
This recipe is another treat that Moroccan Jews and Muslims have enjoyed since the 13th century when it originated in Al-Andalus. These tasty tidbits are now tied to both Jewish and Muslim holidays. Muslims eat this fried honey pastry to break their Ramadan fast, while Sephardim in Morocco and France eat the same dish for Rosh HaShanah and Hanukkah.
Our final recipe dates back at least to 15th century Spain. In the city of Almazan, conversos were reported to the Inquisition tribunal for preparing these cigar-shaped pastries during Semana Santa, a feast that coincides with Passover. Even though this dish may not be traditionally associated with Hanukkah, its fried goodness will add a new dimension of sweetness to your Hanukkah spread.
We hope you've enjoyed learning about these delicious treats, and the stories behind them. If you're looking for even more tasty recipes for your Hanukkah celebrations, check out our Hanukkah recipe collection and video cooking tutorials!