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 multiple 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remove the rice/berry mixture from the pot and add to the bowl. Combine the rice and caramelized onions until mixed thoroughly. Serve warm.