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Purim Recipes

Which cocktail resembles who you’d be in the Purim story? Find your drink, or try the whole M’gillah

Lemon Poppy Seed No-Bake Energy Bars

Chef Katie Simmons

Poppy seeds are frequently used in Purim confections. In Entree to Judaism: A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora, food editor Tina Wasserman explains that poppy seeds are symbolic of the many lots cast by Haman (in the story of Purim), and the promise God made to Abraham to spread his seed throughout the world – the very antithesis of the annihilation Haman planned. In Israel, many Purim foods are prepared with poppy seed in keeping with this promise. 

These no-bake bars are a delicious way to include some healthy snacks in your Purim goodie baskets. They combine almonds, dates, and whole grain oats with fresh lemon, shredded coconut, and poppy seeds. They're gluten-free, oil-free, and vegan. After Purim, they're great for pre-workout snacks!

1 cup almonds (4 ounces)
1 1/2 cups dried dates
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lemon, zest (and juice from only half the lemon)
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded coconut flakes, unsweetened
2-4 tablespoons water, as needed

Yield: 24 bars

To make the bars

  • In a food processor, combine the almonds and dates. Purée until well-chopped and starting to stick together. This might take a good 1-2 minutes, depending on the dryness of your dates.
  • Add the vanilla, lemon zest and juice, poppy seeds, oats, and salt. Purée until the mixture starts to come together. While the food processor is running, stream in 2 tablespoons of water. Remove the lid and feel the bar mix to check the consistency. (You want the mixture to be sticky and clump together.) If the mixture is too dry, place the lid back on and stream in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you reach this consistency. Note: I usually end up using about 4 tablespoons of water.
  •  Add the coconut flakes and purée just 2-3 seconds to incorporate.

To press and set your no-bake bars

  • Line a 9×9 square pan with plastic wrap. Place the bar mixture into the pan and use your fingers to press it all the way to the edges. Cover the top with another layer of plastic. Place another 9×9 pan on top and weigh it down with a couple of heavy cans.
  • Place the pans in a freezer for 1 hour.
  • When the bars have set, remove them from the pan.  Cut into 24 bars and enjoy!

Chef Katie Simmons' Tips

  • Unrefined: There’s no cane sugar, coconut sugar, maple syrup, or other type of refined sweetener in this recipe. Whole dates are used to provide natural sweetness. Dates are loaded with fiber, which helps your body regulate blood sugar and satiety better than any refined sweetener or syrup .
  • Truly Raw? Almonds sold in the US are pasteurized, for food safety reasons, meaning they aren’t truly “raw.”  You can swap them out for raw nuts like brazil nuts, macadamia, or cashews.
  • Maximize the Lemon Flavor: Use the zest of the entire lemon for maximum lemon flavor.  A microplane works best for removing the zest without getting any of the bitter parts of the peel.

    Classically-trained Chef Katie Simmons is a personal chef in Chicago. Her journey to cooking has been a winding path from Kentucky to backpacking in New Zealand through culinary school at Kendall College and working for Whole Foods Market.  Her own frustrations of being an overweight fitness professional finally led her to embrace a plant-based, vegan diet. 

Almond and Sesame Seed Brittle

Stella Cohen

Toasted sesame seeds, honey and almonds make a deep-golden, chewy treat.  Popular at any celebration, this ancient confection is traditionally offered over the Festivals of Purim and Hanukkah (Festival of Lights). These petite treats, not unlike the nut bars that are popular today, are utterly addictive

5 cups hulled sesame seeds
1 tablespoon plain (all-purpose) flour
6 ounces (170g) blanched split almonds, toasted
1 ½ cups clear honey
1 ½ cups hot water
1½ cups sugar
  • Sprinkle 1 cup of sesame seeds with a pinch of flour and toast lightly in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat for 4 minutes or until lightly golden. Shake the pan often and stir with a wooden spoon. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat this process, 1 cup at a time, with the remaining four cups of sesame seeds.
  • Heat the honey, water and sugar in a large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until it thickens and reaches the soft ball stage*. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture into a very large, heatproof bowl.
  • Add the almonds and 3 cups of sesame seeds and stir together vigorously with a wooden spoon. Spread the hot mixture onto an oiled worktop. Sprinkle in the remaining 2 cups of sesame seeds, working it a little at a time into the mixture. Dampen your hands with cold water and roll into four ropes about 1-inch (2.5cm) in diameter. Cut diagonally into 1-inch (2.5cm) sections using a sharp knife dipped into hot water. Allow to cool at room temperature until hardened.

Stella's Hints

  • *The soft ball stage is reached when a small drop of syrup forms into a little ball at the bottom of a cup of cold water. It will flatten and feel soft and pliable.
  • To store: Place the brittle between layers of baking paper and store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

    Reprinted with permission from Stella’s Sephardic Table: Jewish family recipes from the Mediterranean island of Rhodes © 2012 by Stella Cohen, The Gerald & Marc Hoberman Collection. Photography by Marc Hoberman.

    Sephardic cuisine expert, artist, textile designer, and cookery writer, Stella Cohen is a passionate ambassador for the Jewish community, dedicating her life to the celebration, preservation, and education of Sephardic values and traditions. Stella’s heart lies in Southern Africa as well as in the Mediterranean, as she was born and raised in Zimbabwe and has a family tree entrenched in Sephardic history. Her parents originate from Rhodes, Greece, and Marmaris, Turkey and she is the great-granddaughter of Yaacov Capouya, the Rabbi of Rhodes.


Queen Esther's Jaffa Poppy Seed Tea Cake with Orange Brandy Sugar Glaze

Marcy Goldman

For Purim, make this cake in miniature loaf pans (usually 12 mini loaves per baking tray) and pack 2 or 3 of them in each Purim basket. This an especially moist, fragrant cake. You can substitute half and half or orange juice (for a pareve cake) for the evaporated milk, but the milk makes for a fine-textured, delicately crumbed loaf.

1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups unsweetened evaporated milk or orange juice or half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon undiluted frozen orange juice or orange liqueur
2 tablespoons finely minced orange zest
1/3 cup poppy seeds
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup brandy (or ginger ale)
Zest of 1 orange, finely minced
1/2 cup sugar

Yield: 12 to 14 servings

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans, one large 12-cup Bundt pan, or a 12-portion mini-loaf pan. (If using miniature loaves for a Purim basket, first spray the loaf pan generously with nonstick cooking spray, then line each mold with a paper baking cup widened to fit the loaf molds. This will make the loaves easy to remove and lend them that professional look.)

For the cake

  • Using a whisk or in an electric mixer, blend the sugar and oil. Beat in the eggs. Stir in the evaporated milk, vanilla, frozen orange juice, zest, and poppy seeds and beat well. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder, and blend until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s). Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, depending on the pan(s) used. When a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, the cake is done. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cake rack.

For the glaze:

  • In a small saucepan, mix together the glaze ingredients. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved (about 5 minutes). Let cool, then drizzle over the cooled cake(s). Gather together the drippings and drizzle on the remaining glaze again.

    Marcy Goldman is a cookbook author of several titles including the upcoming The Newish Jewish Cookbook (February 2019 River Heart Press) and host of the popular website, This recipe is reprinted with permission from The 10th Anniversary Edition of A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking (River Heart Press).

Poppy Seed Cake with Blueberries and Labneh

Michael Solomonov

The earthy fruitiness of poppy seeds makes them shine in recipes both sweet and savory; they’re equally at home on top of a buttered bagel as in a sweet filling for hamentashen, the stuffed, three-cornered Purim cookie. This poppy seed cake is basically a madeleine batter - almond flour, egg whites, and butter. The butter is browned first to give it a bit more complexity and a nuttiness that complements the poppy seeds. The egg whites keep the cake nice and tender and lend a bit of crispness to the crust.

Labneh (or labaneh or labné) is yogurt that has been salted and drained to remove excess water. The result is a thick, tart, and creamy spread that’s similar in texture to Greek-style yogurt, but richer in flavor. The tradition of drained yogurt comes from the Levant, but Israelis adopted it wholeheartedly and use labneh in sauces, eat it instead of yogurt, and just smear it on bread with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of za’atar. Although kosher laws mean that labneh seldom appears on the Israeli dinner table (where meat is typically served), I use it often at Zahav.

Pureed with tons of soft herbs and garlic, labneh is the base of the striking jade-green sauce for Zahav’s famous fried cauliflower. Labneh also works beautifully as a sauce for fish (amazing when mixed with amba, mango pickle). I love to use labneh in desserts because it mellows the sweetness.

10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup almond flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
5 large egg whites
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups blueberries, for serving
1 cup labneh, for serving
  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling frequently, until the foaming stops and the butter turns a rich brown color and smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Whisk the almond flour, all-purpose flour, and baking powder in a bowl.
  3. Combine the egg whites, confectioners’ sugar, and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer and a big bowl). Beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and thick, about 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and fold in gently with a spatula until just combined. Whisk about 1/4 cup of the batter into the brown butter until well combined, and then fold the brown butter mixture into the batter. Add the poppy seeds and lemon zest and fold in gently until just combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle. Line a 9-by-13 inch baking dish with oiled parchment.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared dish and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan. You can turn it out of the pan before slicing and serving, topped with blueberries and labneh, or serve straight from the pan.

Yield: One 9-by-13-inch cake

Excerpted with permission from ZAHAV by Michael Solomonov. Copyright © 2015 by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook. Photography © 2015 by Mike Persico. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Chef Michael Solomonov was born in Israel and grew up in Pittsburgh. He and Steven Cook are the co-owners of CookNSolo Restaurants, home to some of Philadelphia's most distinctive culinary concepts, including Zahav, Federal Donuts, Abe Fisher, Dizengoff, Rooster Soup Co., and Goldie. They are a combined four-time James Beard Award Winners, including the 2016 "Best International Cookbook" and "Book of the Year" awards for their first cookbook, Zahav, and a 2011 "Best Chef Mid-Atlantic" win for Solomonov and who in May, was named the 2017 JBF's "Outstanding Chef".

Tina's Tidbits: 

Michael Solomov Introduces Labneh

  • Prepared labneh is available in Middle Eastern markets. Making it is simple: Add salt to taste to plain (not nonfat) yogurt, scoop it into a cheesecloth-lined colander, and set that over a bowl. Place the whole contraption in your refrigerator to drain overnight, and you’ll have labneh for breakfast.

Hamantaschen are the most recognizable food associated with the Purim holiday, but there are many different foods for celebrating Purim. Check out some favorite recipes from around the world.

When we say "Purim," three-cornered cookies are one of the first things that come to mind for many people. But where did they come from? Learn about the history of hamantaschen and browse a selection of recipes for all types of hamantaschen, both sweet and savory.

Savory Persian Herb and Cheese Hamantaschen

Amelia Saltsman

Hamantaschen, the traditional triangular Ashkenazic Purim pastries, are typically a sweet treat. I’ve taken a savory approach here, using spring herbs, a Persian favorite, to honor Esther and Mordechai’s heritage, as well as the season.

With their flaky dough, these Haman’s hats (or pockets or ears) are reminiscent of burekas, the small hand pies popular in Israel and the eastern Mediterranean. You can make snack-size hamantaschen or large ones for a vegetarian main dish (see the variation at the end of the recipe).

For the pastry:
1 1/2 cups (190 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 g) whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (170 g) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces
1/2 cup (120 ml) ice water
For the filling:
1 bunch each Persian or regular mint, leek or garlic chives, pepper cress, green onions, and tarragon
3/4 cup (170 g) labneh, homemade or store-bought
6 ounces (170 g) feta cheese, crumbled
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash

To Make the Pastry

In a large bowl, stir together the flours and salt with a fork. Scatter the butter over the flour mixture and, using your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse sand with some flattened pieces of butter still visible. Stir in the ice water, a little at a time, until the dough just sticks together when pressed between your fingertips. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and flatten into a thick rectangle. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. (The dough can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated; let it rest at room temperature until soft enough to roll out, about 15 minutes.)

To Make the Filling

Finely chop enough of each of the herbs in any combination preferred to total 1¼ cups (75 g) lightly packed. In a medium bowl, use a fork to mash together the labneh and feta. Stir in the egg, then stir in the chopped herbs.

To Assemble the Pastries

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Have ready 2 sheet pans. If you like, line them with parchment paper.

Divide the dough in half and rewrap and refrigerate half of it. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the other half into a rectangle or circle 1/16 to ⅛ inch (2 to 3 mm) thick. Cut out 12 circles each 3½ inches (9 cm) in diameter, rerolling any scraps as needed.

Mound 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of each dough circle. Fold the sides of the dough up over the filling to form a triangle, leaving a nickel-size bit of filling exposed. Pinch the three corners of the triangle very firmly to seal. Arrange the pastries on a sheet pan, spacing them about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Refrigerate the first batch while you make more with the remaining half of the dough and filling. Top off the pastries with any leftover filling. Brush the pastries with the egg wash.

Bake the pastries for 12 minutes; the bottoms will be light golden. Reduce heat to 375°F (190°C) and continue to bake until the crust is a rich gold and the filling is puffed and browned in places, 10 to 12 minutes longer. Using an offset spatula, transfer the pastries to a wire rack and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Refrigerate leftover hamantaschen; they can be reheated in a 350°F (180°C).

Main Dish Variation

To make 6 large hamantaschen, cut three 6-inch (15-cm) circles from each piece of dough. Use about ⅓ cup (70 g) of filling for each dough circle and fold as directed. As you complete shaping each hamantasch, use a wide offset spatula to move it onto the baking sheet. Bake at 425°F (220°C) for 15 minutes and at 375°F (190°C) for about 25 minutes.

Kitchen Note

Unbaked hamantaschen can be frozen, well wrapped, for up to 1 week. Brush frozen pastries with egg wash just before baking, and increase oven times to 15 and 18 minutes, respectively.

Reprinted with permission from The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen © 2015 by Amelia Saltsman, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photo by Staci Valentine.

Almond Poppy Seed Pound Cake

Tina Wasserman

Use leftover hamantaschen filling in this delicious almond poppy seed pound cake! When you're finished making hamantaschen for your family and friends for Purim, there’s a good chance that you have leftover filling. There’s even a better chance that you have more than one filling left over! I created this cake using canned almond and canned poppy seed filling but you could use apricot/almond or apricot/poppy seed or even prune/poppy seed combinations. All are delicious, although the last choice will create a cake that looks more chocolate than vanilla.

1 cup unsalted butter
1 ¼ cup sugar
½ cup canned poppy seed dessert filling
½ cup canned almond dessert filling
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup low-fat, thick Greek yogurt
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Lightly spray four mini loaf pans or one large bundt pan with cooking spray, or lightly grease with vegetable oil. Set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together on high speed until light and fluffy.
  4. Add poppy seed filling, apricot filling, almond extract, and vanilla extract to the butter-sugar mixture and mix at medium high speed until all ingredients are well combined.
  5. Add eggs and beat at high speed until mixture is lighter in color and aerated.
  6. Add the yogurt and mix on high speed until well incorporated.
  7. In a small bowl, stir the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Add this mixture to the mixing bowl and mix on low speed just until the batter is well combined.
  8. Pour the batter evenly into four prepared mini loaves or one large bundt pan. Place on a low-rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 40 to 60 minutes (depending on size of pan) until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Let cakes cool for five minutes and then remove from pans and place on a cooling rack or on their sides (mini loaves) or upright (bundt cake). Cool thoroughly before covering or freezing for later use.


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