Fast End

Chilli Sweater, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Here’s hoping those of you who fasted on Yom Kippur have had an easy fasting and that you are all going to be inscribed in the book of life and have a good year of health, peace and truth.

The fast of Yom Kippur in my family has two mythical endings: a hand-picked guava from the nearby tree (a tradition that started with my stepfather’s grandfather, whose eyes filled with tears of joy every time he was about to eat a fruit grown on the holy land), or rushing home from the synagogue to the infamous cilantro-centered Harira soup. In both instances, very aromatic ending to a bland day of fasting with neither food nor water. A bit extreme, especially considering that both guavas and cilantro are quite controversial aromas which usually garner polarized reactions.

With this little piece of family history, I’d like to share with you three cilantro-centered recipes; two of which I mostly owe to my stepfather, blessed be his soul, as one is his own very invention and the other was inherited from my Moroccan side of the family. Lastly, there is a recipe for the Yemanite hot-pepper condiment Zehug which I adopted from my friend Einat.

Asher’s Fresh Cilantro Salad
Cilantro salad has become the symbol of winter in our family. Made with only several vegetables that were abundant in our winter garden, it is full of vitamin-C and also quite delicious (if you like cilantro, that is). Otherwise, it’s just another way to polarize your family…

2 large bunches fresh cilantro leaves,
5-7 small radishes
4 green onions
1/2 red bell pepper
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. olive oil

- Wash the cilantro and dispose of any brown or old leaves.
- Thinly dice radishes and peppers
- Thinly slice the green onions
- Add lemon juice and olive oil
- Toss and serve as an appetizer, salad or a condiment alongside other dishes
- Especially good accompaniment to avocado sandwiches and various winter soups.

Harira for Yom Kippur According to the Dehan Family
Harira is the national soup of Morrocco and used both by Jews and Muslims to break the fast (of Yom Kippur and Ramadan, respectively). It is my guess that the Jewish Harira is very simple to prepare, because lighting fire and cooking is forbidden during that holy day. The legumes are soaked since the even of Yom Kippur, prepping them for a relatively short cooking time when everyone arrives from the synagogue. It is simply flavoured with cilantro an coriander (and cumin if desired), keeping it simple and comforting. If you are in a real hurry you could even skip the sautéed onion part and go straight to cooking the chickpeas and lentils. Please note that both spices are best when freshly ground, preferably in your mortar and pestle. The other alternative is using a coffee grinder.

1 cup chickpeas (garbanzo) beans
1-1/2 cups green lentils
2 Liters boiling water
1 medium onion, diced
1-3 Tbs. olive oil
1 head garlic, minced
2 large bunches cilantro leaves, washed and chopped
2 tsp. coriander seed, freshly ground
½ tsp. cumin, freshly ground
1 Tbs. Harissa (Morrocan hot pepper condiment) - optional
½ tsp. salt (or to taste)
1 Lemon

- Boil the water
- Rinse the lentils and garbanzo beans.
- Cover the garbanzo beans in water and boil.
- Skim off any foam that forms on the top.
- Cover the pot with the lid and wait while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
- Sautee the onion in olive oil until golden-brown.
- Add the garlic and Harissa and sautee for one more minute.
- Add the soaked and rinsed lentils and cover with boiling water.
- Cook until the lentil soften, than add the garbanzo beans.
- Wash, clean and chop the cilantro leaves
- Add spices to taste.
- Add the cilantro and continue cooking until the lentils and garbanzo beans have softened and the soup has reached a smooth but not too thick consistency.
- Serve with lemon juice.

Einat's Zehug
Zehug is a a Yemanite condiment that is used on breads, as a dip, and to flavour soups and stews. It is especially good with bread, either as a substitute for butter, and avocado in particular. I met my friend Einat in the West End Farmer’s Market a couple of weekends ago while she was stocking up on hot peppers, and the first thing that went through my mind was Zehug. I started collecting hot peppers too and than we both found ourselves having a conversation about Zehug.
The following is loosely the recipe she gave me which turned out simple and great. The key is to use the freshest most flavourful ingredients and grind your spices freshly using a mortar and pestle.

1/2 kg fresh hot peppers – any kind, the hotter the better
2 heads of fresh garlic
¼ cup olive oil (approximately)
2 large bunches of cilantro leaves, rinsed, cleaned and well-dried
2 Tbs. coriander seed, freshly ground
1 tsp. cumin seed, freshly ground
1 tsp. cardamom seed, freshly ground
1 tsp. clove buds, freshly ground
2 tsp. black peppercorns, freshly ground
¼ tsp. sea salt, or to taste

- Cut off the stems of the hot peppers and slice or chop them. Be sure to use gloves for your hands to avoid burning your skin and eyes throughout the day.
- Peel and mince the garlic
- Chop the cilantro leaves
- Using a food processor or a hand-blender, work the mixture of peppers, garlic and cilantro into a paste. Add a bit of olive oil to make the job a little easier.
- Alternatively, if you have sliced your peppers thinly enough, you will be able to make the Zehug using mortar and pestle (and trust me, the flavour and texture would be significantly better).
- Add the spices and adjust to taste.
- Place in a jar and cover with olive oil. Use within 1 week.

Hot Lunch

Malawach, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

The beauty of having family around is that there is someone else nearby to remind me of favourite foods and convince me to cook them even though I’ve never made them before, such as Malawach…

Malawach is a Yemanaite flat bread, made of leafy dough (more similar to that of croissant rather than filo dough) that is pan fried and served with the traditional Yemanite condiments: hilbeh (a fenugreek paste, which will make you smell of fenugreek for an entire week following the feast), zehug (a very hot paste made with pepper, garlic and coriander). In Israel, these can be had with no hard work or Yemanite root, via the frozen section of most supermarkets and requires minimal preparation. In Canada, of course, nobody heard of Malawach, let alone capitalize on it as a frozen product. And so me and my brother Noam hd no choice but to make our own, from scratch. We set off today to make the most delicious brunch possible – one that left us un-hungry for many hours to come (we ate around 11am and weren’t able to eat anything else until about 9pm!).
I took care of the Malawach, and my brother made the zhug. Here is the recipes for what we’ve made – and I hope you will feel inspired to make them yourself. They are simply delicious and slightly addictive.

Malawach – Ayala’s Recipe
1-1/2 Cup Water
3-4 Cups Unbleached Wheat Flour
100gr Margarine

Dissolve the salt in the water and add flour slowly while stirring with a whisk or a wooden spoon. Add flour just until the dough becomes soft and but not sticky.

Divide the dough into two equal portions.

Roll each portion of dough into thin sheets (about 0.5cm thin).

Spread margarine all over the sheet, and than fold each corner into the center to cover the margarine.

Roll the dough until thin again and repeat the process of spreading the margarin and than folding the dough in. Fold the dough into 4 and roll it again several additional times (2-4 times).

Let the two sheets rest on the counter, covered with a towel, for 30 minutes, so the dough rises a bit.

Roll each sheet very thinly (about 0.25cm). With a medium sized bowl or a large, round cookie cutter, cut the dough into circles, small enough to fit your frying pan.

Fry the circles in vegetable oil on both sides, and serve with the condiments described below - tomato dip and zhug.

Zhug (Noam’s recipe)
4 banana peppers (or one small sweet pepper), thinly sliced
2 jalapenos (or more, to taste), thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
¼ - ½ cup cilantro, chopped (to taste)
1 Tbs. Coriander seeds
1 Tbs. Cumin, ground
¼ tsp. Salt
¼ cup olive oil

Sauté all the banana peppers in olive oil over medium heat until the peppers soften a bit. Add 2 cloves garlic and the jalapeno and sauté for a couple more minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, and using mortar and pestle, add the spices and mush the mixture until it achieved a paste-like consistency. Transfer to a clean jar.

Chop the cilantro and add to the jar, and mix well.
Serve as a condiment along with Malawach, and also great in sandwiches and an addition to sauces and marinades.

For the Tomato Dip:
6 large, soft and ripe tomatos
1 or more garlic cloves
1 tsp. olive oil
salt to taste

Using a grater, grate the tomatos (including the seeds) and place in a bowl. Add crushed garlic, salt and olive oil and serve together with the Malaawch and Zhug for dipping.
Back to the top