Seeking Sephardic Recipes

Categories: B-shul, Religious School

Rabbi Amy and I have been working to introduce “Diversity of Judaism” into the Bshul curriculum.  Jews certainly don’t all look the same and depending on where we come from there are differences to our cooking ingredients and recipes.  This year in Bshul we have mostly focused on Ashkenazi (European decent) & Israeli recipes.  With my very own Israeli cooking coach, Morah Ariella, I learned to prepare and taught students about Israeli dishes like Kibbutz Salad and Sufganiyot. My family is Askenazi and I have shared many traditional recipes like Kugel, Rugelach, and Mandelbrot.

Next year we’d like to include Sephardic (Spanish decent) and more Middle Eastern recipes into the Bshul lessons.  For example, Morah Ariella introduced the teachers to Ma’amoul, according to Wikipedia, small shortbread pastries filled with dates, pistachios or walnuts (or occasionally almonds, figs, or other fillings). They are popular in Levantine cuisine and in the Gulf countries. They may be in the shape of balls or of domed or flattened cookies. They can either be decorated by hand or be made in special wooden moulds. Ma’amoul with date fillings are often known as menenas, and are sometimes made in the form of date rolls rather than balls or cookies. They are very popular in Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and other Levantine countries, and highly demanded in the Gulf States, where they can be found packed and commercial versions of the pastry. They are also popular among Syrian, Lebanese and Egyptian Jewish communities, where ma’amoul with nut fillings are eaten on Purim, and ma’amoul with date fillings are eaten on Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah.  

I plan to incorporate this into next year’s lessons (without the nuts of-course) but you don’t have to wait to enjoy this pastry.  Try this Ma’amoul recipe for Purim!  Ariella and I found that our test kitchen subjects (aka our families) don’t like rose water, so our recipe (below) uses the juice and rind of 1 lemon in the dough.  Also, we made this strudel style because it is much less labor intensive then rolling out & filling dozens of cookies.  One final hint, if you are short on time, purchase the Date Spread from Murray Avenue Kosher.




  • ½ cup (4 ounces) dried pitted dates, chopped
  • ½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water (or orange juice)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra 1/2 cup for adjusting dough and rolling out dough)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (use margarine for pareve)
  • Juice & rind of 1 lemon (or 2 tablespoons rose water)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Confectioners’ sugar for garnish


  1. To make the filling, combine the dates, sugar, water and cinnamon in a medium saucepan over low heat.
    Cook until the dates are soft and the water is absorbed, about 20 min. Let cool & process in a blender.
  2. To make the dough, combine the dry ingredients into a bowl.   Add the butter, vanilla and 1/4 cup of water.   Add additional water by the Tablespoon until dough comes together without being crumbly.  If dough is too sticky add a Tablespoon of flour until you are able to handle the dough.
  3. Roll out the dough into a large square
  4. Spread the filling on the dough.  If you are using nuts, sprinkle them on top of the filling.
  5. Prepare your egg wash and brush one end of the dough so the “seam” will stick together after rolling
  6. Roll up the dough and place seam down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment
  7. Cut 3 slits in the top and brush with egg wash.
  8. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes. Cool. Slice and decorate with confectioner’s sugar.


Now it is your turn to share Sephardic recipes with me. Remember, our Religious School kitchen facility has constraints such as dairy and nut free.  If you would be kind enough to share your family SEPHARDIC recipes , I would be so appreciative.  Be sure to include:

  • Name, email address & phone number
  • Recipe (Pareve/Dairy & Nut Free)
  • Indicate the Jewish holiday for which the dish is served
  • Photo if you have

Please email recipes to me at [email protected].


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