What's cooking. / Diaspora Jewish culinary culture Sephardi and Mizrachi flavors

Cook something


Olive oil and yogurt

Sephardi cuisine is much lighter than Ashkenazi cuisine. Instead of goose schmaltz, olive oil is the mainstay fat used for cooking. Instead of sour cream, Sephardim use yogurt.

Pickles, spreads, flavour enhancers

Like other middle eastern cuisines, Sephardi cuisine is based on a whole gamut of flavor enhancers, such as rose water, orange water, marinated vegetables and all sorts of spreads and thick sauces, made from mangos, coriander, coconut and dates.

Photo: Penny De Los Santos, Jewish Food Society


As opposed to Ashkenazi Jews, Sephardi Jews did not have their own bread such as challah or bagels. Pita, widely known all across the Middle East and the Arab world, is the most popular bread among Sephardi Jews.
Photo: Piotr Kulisiewicz, Private collection

Shabbat hot pot – adafina and hamin

This is a Sephardic variation on cholent, a hot, slow-cooked meat dish prepared for Shabbat. Traditionally, lamb and goat meat were used; today, they are increasingly often replaced by beef or veal, with added vegetables, legumes and spices.
Fot. Penny De Los Santos, Jewish Food Society


Eggs boiled for a long time in onion skins with some coffee grains until their shell turns deep brown, the egg white turns light brown and the yolk turns slightly green. Traditionally, the eggs were placed on top of the adafina (Shabbat stew) in the stewing pot.


Puff pastry stuffed with different fillings, typical of Sephardic Jewish as well as Turkish, Greek and Balkan cuisines (in Turkish "börek" means "pastry"). Jewish bourekas were more akin to Spanish and Portuguese empanadas—they were filled with cheese, aubergine, spinach or meat.


Traditional Jewish Yemenite oily bread prepared for Shabbat morning. It is baked overnight in a pot; sometimes eggs are added to the pot (just like to the pot of cholent) to make haminados. Kubaneh is very popular in Israel today.
Photo: Tom Hovav, Private collection


Pieces of fish in a spicy tomato sauce with smoked paprika and coriander, traditionally eaten on Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah and Pesach by Jews from Morocco and North Africa. On Shabbat, it is always served as a cold starter, just like Ashkenazi gefilte fish.

Mina de Espinaca

Spinach, cheese and matzo flour pie eaten during the Passover holiday. It is an example of a “Pesach invention”: a tasty dish made from the products that are allowed during the holiday period, such as matzo and matzo flour.
Cook it!

Rice dishes – pilaf

Aside from North Africa where couscous rules, rice is a staple among Sephardic communities. It is often yellow – thanks to the addition of saffron – and served with vegetables, pieces of meat, and hot spices. Jews began consuming rice as early as the 5th century BCE when the Jewish diaspora stretched to Persia. Rice is mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud, and was formally accepted along with the spread of Islam.
Cook it!
Ścieżka diaspora koniec rozdziału
See more
Table of Diaspora