Citizens, your intractable Sovereign – the all-encompassing TFD! – is always seeking out recipes that showcase many less well-known communities here in the West. Today, I would very much like to share this delicious dish beloved by the Kurdish Jews! 🙂
As noted in the Jerusalem Post:
It is believed that Jews have lived in the area of modern Kurdistan since the 8th century BCE. Also known as Assyria and Mesopotamia, the area now encompasses parts of Iran, northern Iraq, Syria, and eastern Turkey.
The first Jews arrived after the Assyrian conquest of the Kingdom of Israel and the subsequent exile of the ten tribes during the period 858 – 824 BCE. An ancient Kurdish tradition relates that Kurdish Jews are the descendants specifically of the tribes of Dan, Naphtali, and Benjamin.
In his travel memoirs, Benjamin of Tudela related that there were about 100 Jewish settlements and substantial Jewish population in Kurdistan in 12th century. It is also from Benjamin of Tudela’s memoirs that we learn of David Alroi, the messianic leader from central Kurdistan, who rebelled against the king of Persia and had plans to lead the Jews back to Jerusalem.
Benjamin of Tudela also reports of wealthy Jewish communities in Mosul, which at the time was the commercial and spiritual center of Kurdistan. During the crusades many Jews fled from Syria, the Levant, and Judea to Babylonia and Kurdistan.
Kurdish Jews in Israel are immigrants and descendants of the immigrants of the Kurdish Jewish communities, who now reside within the state of Israel. They number around 200,000.
Immigration of Kurdish Jews to the Land of Israel initiated during the late 16th century, with a community of rabbinic scholars arriving to Safed, Galilee, and a Kurdish Jewish quarter had been established there as a result. The thriving period of Safed however ended in 1660, with Druze power struggles in the region and an economic decline.
Since the early 20th century some Kurdish Jews had been active in the Zionist movement. One of the most famous members of Lehi (Freedom Fighters of Israel) was Moshe Barazani, whose family immigrated from Iraq and settled in Jerusalem in the late 1920s.
The vast majority of Kurdish Jews were forced out of Northern Iraq, being evacuated to Israel in the early 1950s, together with other Iraqi Jewish community. The vast majority of the Kurdish Jews of Iranian Kurdistan relocated mostly to Israel as well, in the 1950s.
The Times of Israel reported on September 30, 2013: “Today, there are almost 200,000 Kurdish Jews in Israel, about half of whom live in Jerusalem. There are also over 30 agricultural villages throughout the country that were founded by Kurdish Jews.” Today, the large majority of the Jews of “Kurdistan” and their descendants live in Israel.
Kurdish Jews began immigrating to Israel in the 1920s, but most came after the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948; today virtually none remain in Kurdistan. Most moved to Jerusalem, and the neighborhood abutting the Mahane Yehuda market remains a center of the community.
One of the few aspects of Kurdish culture remaining among their descendants is cuisine. The most familiar is kubbeh soup—semolina dumplings stuffed with meat and cooked in a lemony sour broth.
In Israel, a red version of this soup made with beets is very popular. This recipe, however, is for the lesser known yellow variety.
Kubbeh are semolina dumplings with a flavorful meat filling. They are related to kibbeh, a croquette made of bulgur, also filled with meat, but then fried. For this recipe, the semolina parcels are cooked and served in a turmeric-laced chicken broth.
Citizens, my version is based closely on a recipe I found on allrecipes.com, but with the addition of several spices and my own Iraqi spice blend. I have every confidence you will love this delicious recipe, !
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- For the shell:
- 190g fine cracked wheat, not bulgur, uncooked
- 1 cup cold water
- 165g semolina
- ½ teaspoon salt
- For the meat filling:
- 1 ½ pounds fatty stewing lamb, such as chuck, shank or neck
- 1 ¾ ounces (50g) lamb tail fat – if unavailable, use regular lamb fat
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 tbsp. celery leaves, minced
- For the soup:
- 2 cups chickpeas, uncooked
- 4 green onions
- 4 tbsp. chopped celery leaves
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp. turmeric
- 1 bunch Swiss chard (white beet leaves)
- 10 ½ cups (2.5L) chicken stock
- 2 sticks celery, chopped
- 2 zucchini, chopped into large pieces
- 2 turnips, chopped into large pieces
- ¾ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. Hirshon Iraqi Baharat spice mix, made from:
- 2 ½ tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ tablespoons freshly ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground allspice
- ½ tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 ½ teaspoons freshly ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
- 1 ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon paprika (it’s not traditional, but I like smoked Spanish paprika – use regular paprika to go old-school)
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- 1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
- 2 teaspoons crumbled dried rose petals, optional but strongly recommended
- The shell: Soak cracked wheat in water for 30 minutes, or until it has absorbed the water and has expanded. It shouldn’t be soupy. Add the semolina and ½ teaspoon salt and knead until the dough is soft and elastic like playdough. Add more water if necessary to create pliable dough. If the dough is too wet, let stand for 30 minutes or add small amounts of semolina. Remember that different batches of semolina and cracked wheat absorb water differently.
- Meat filling: Fry the chunks of meat in lamb fat using a cast iron skillet until the meat is browned on all sides, adding a few drops of water to the pan if the bottom begins to burn. Cover the meat with water and let the water boil down completely and until the meat loses about half of its volume (this is an improvised khelia). Set aside to cool.
- Fry the onion in a few tablespoons of vegetable oil or lamb fat until dark brown, add to meat. Add the salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add the chopped celery leaves. Cool completely.
- First, soak the chickpeas in a pot of water overnight. For the soup, drain the chickpeas. Return them to the pot, cover with water reaching almost twice as high along the sides of the pot and cook over medium heat for 1 hour, until tender – drain liquid and discard, reserve chickpeas.
- In the blender add the green onions, celery leaves, garlic and about ½ of the chard leaves. Add a little water and blend until all the vegetables are pulverized. Roughly chop the remaining chard. Boil the chicken stock. Add the vegetables and chopped Swiss chard (and whatever didn’t fit into the blender) and cook for about five minutes. Add the pulverized vegetables, the chickpeas, the turmeric and the Iraqi baharat to the stock and cook for another 10 minutes. Add lemon juice. It should be sour.
- Kubbeh: Take a piece of dough the size of a walnut, shape the dough into a ball, and with your thumb make a hole for the stuffing. The sides of the shell should be thin, about 2mm (about as thick as a U.S. nickel), as the dough will expand in the soup. A bowl of water is useful to dip your hands in to keep the dough from sticking.
- Stuff the shell with the cooled meat filling. For every piece of dough, try stuffing with about the same volume of meat. Flatten the stuffed kubbeh into discs. Place them on a lightly oiled surface such as a baking pan. Only when the soup is boiling add the kubbeh.
- With a long wooden spoon stir the soup gently to make sure the kubbeh have not stuck to the bottom of the pot. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the kubbeh begin to float. Remember the kubbeh will disintegrate if cooked too long.
- Uncooked stuffed kubbeh can be frozen. To freeze put a tray of kubbeh in the freezer until frozen to the touch. Take them out and put them in a freezer bag.
Citizens, please note that I can no longer afford to absorb the nearly $1000 per month it costs to keep the site running smoothly, including marketing expenses, etc.
You can make a difference!
Please consider making a one-time donation to help keep the site live and the posts coming – click here to PayPal Me a tip!
You can also show your support by listening to our podcasts, liking them, and sharing as you see fit – try them out here.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?