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!
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