Monthly Archives: April 2017

Sephardic Seder


Just wrote this post for Gather DC:

Save your Seat at a Sephardic Seder!

by Jackie N

Passover is a very special time for Sephardic Jews and many communities have different practices, customs and rituals on the holiday.

Most of you already know that most Sephardic communities (but not all) eat kitniyot; such as rice, corn, millet, dried beans and lentils, peas, green beans, soybeans, peanuts, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and mustard. But did you also know that many Sephardic communities have developed various customs and practices for the Seder itself?

Some of these customs include:

  • Beginning the Seder by passing the Seder plate over the heads of all the guests, to demonstrate that we were once slaves in Egypt and carried heavy burdens on our heads.
  • Lightly whipping fellow dinner guests with a scallion during the singing of Dayenu to remind us that it was a miracle that we were freed from the lash of oppression.
  • Eating a soft matzoh that more closely resembles the matzoh eaten by the Israelites leaving Egypt.
  • Making a date-based charoset paste or chutney.

You can experience some of these unique customs in DC this year. For the first time, Sephardic Jews in DC will be hosting our first Sephardic Seder. At this Seder you will learn more about these customs, as well as sample the many traditional Passover dishes from various Sephardic and Mizrahi communities across the world.

To reserve your place at our seder please purchase them on our EventBrite page. Please note that the Seder is primarily geared towards Young Professionals in the DC Metro area (20’s and 30’s).

Sephardic Jews in DC will also be co sponsoring a fun Mimouna happy hour and dance party along with the Israeli House, Moishe House, EntryPointDC, and JScreen. A Mimouna is a traditional festival event celebrating the end of Pesach. The custom was brought over to Israel by Sephardic refugees from Northern Africa and has been adopted as a National Holiday in Israel. Join us to celebrate the end of Passover with traditional Moroccan and Israeli sweets, great Happy Hour specials, henna artists, dancing, and awesome music! Buy your tickets here.

To learn more about Sephardic Passover customs please consult the following links:


Kurdish Rice (Parve)


Food is culture. It tells a story. Jewish food tells the story and history of an exiled people; who despite many hardships never forgot their roots and biblical teachings/commandments.

Like many community organizers, I cook not just to feed people (which honestly could be more easily accomplished with ordering lots of pizza) but rather to teach people about different Jewish cultures, cuisines, and Judaism itself.

Hosting events is not always the easiest thing to do. Sometimes in life you think you’re prepared to handle it all and then you get slammed with lots of problems you didn’t anticipate. I’ve mentioned this before in other posts, but sadly cooking is often times a thankless and unappreciated job.

Recently I hosted a massive Shabbat dinner event for close to a hundred people, the amount of people was originally planned at 50, but when you partner with less competent/experienced organizations you sometimes wind up with these kinds of issues. As they say in French, c’est la vie.

Despite the hardships, I soldiered on and perservered. I also learned some valuable lessons with regard to working with people and also how to cook multi17342678_10110568412902641_8920911846493067822_nple dishes for a hundred people in a tiny kitchen and under a strict budget through the process.

There’s no way I could have pulled off a dinner for 100 and stayed under budget without some key recipes that are filling, easy, and cheap to make. If you’re curious my other dishes and normal go-tos are Israeli salad, roasted string beans with garlic, kale salad, turkey meatballs, chicken sofrito, and Turkish roasted potatoes.

This recipe is definitely one of those easy to make dishes that everyone will love. It was the first thing I ran out of at the dinner, and even people who don’t like rice dishes (cough, cough…me) will love it.

It’s light, filling, full of flavor, and as noted before very easy and cheap to make. Vegatarians and meat eaters alike will enjoy it. It’s lightly based off a recipe from Jerusalem the cookbook and is heavily influenced by spices found along the Silk Road (likely making it Kurdish in origin) but this is a much easier version then the original recipe.

Even better, it’s highly versatile. Don’t like rice? Replace it with quinoa or cauliflower rice, or add chicken or tofu, sour cherries instead of cranberries (or maybe both?), add chili powder to make it spicy, or ras el hanout spice, etc. This recipe is flexible and delicious, so feel free to play around with it.

And for those hosting this Passover best of luck! Just know your hard work is appreciated and needed. Keep on keeping on! And try this with quinoa!

Cooking time: 1 hour / Serves: 6-8


  • 1 sweet onion very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of wild rice (optional – you can use only white rice)
  • 1 cup of white basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup of golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup of cranberries
  • 1 cup of chickpeas
  • 3 tablespoons of curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt and pepper
  • 2.5 cups of vegetable or chicken stock (feel free to adjust based on rice used)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Begin cooking the rice following the instructions on packaging using a vegetable or chicken stock as your liquid base. Once you’re about 10 minutes into cooking time (whether stove top or rice cooker) add the raisins and cranberries  into the rice and mix well. Finish cooking until the rice is fully cooked.
  2. In a seperate frying pan heat your oil. Once hot, add the onions, salt, pepper, honey, garlic powder, chickpeas, curry powder, and tumeric and reduce the heat to low. Caramelize the onions by cooking them for 5-10 minutes, make sure to move the onion mixture carefully,  being careful not to burn the onions.
  3. Remove the onions/chickpeas with a tong or slotted spoon once the onions have softened and turned a caramel brown color. Place in a large bowl.
  4. Remove the rice/berry mixture from the pot and add to the bowl. Combine the rice and caramelized onions until mixed thoroughly. Serve warm.