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The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC)

Posted Sep 07 2010 4:32am

About JDC
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. JDC works in Israel and more than 70 countries to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters. To learn more, visit

It may not be your Bubbe’s brisket, but leek frittatas from Turkey and corn flour-coconut halava from India are the very dishes that will make your Rosh Hashanah meal unforgettable.  The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), operating in more than 70 countries around the globe, has collected from some of the most exotic locales in Jewish life a menu of decadent recipes for the Jewish New Year. Hailing from Jewish families the world over, these recipes will not just dazzle your senses, they will connect you to traditions and tastes thousands of years old.  And, as with all Jewish cooking, some of the recipes play fast and loose with ingredient amounts and cooking time, so channel your inner Joan Nathan, and get cooking! Bon Appétit! More JDC recipes – from Argentina to Tunisia – can be found at:

From India Corn flour-Coconut Halava (a specialty of the Bene Israel community)
Recipe courtesy of Rosy Solomon Moses of Mumbai, India.

Ingredients 2 ¼ cups of cornstarch (in India, use corn flour); a drop or two of pink, orange or red food coloring; 2 cups of sugar; 4 tablespoons of chopped almonds & pistachios; 1 medium-sized coconut (or 1 can of thick coconut milk);1 tablespoon of margarine; and ½ teaspoon of cardamom and nutmeg.

Preparation Scrape coconut, grind in the mixer and extract coconut milk with warm water to measure 2 quarts. Sieve cornstarch and add to the coconut milk with sugar, a good pinch of salt and color.

Mix well and pour into a stove-top pan and cook on flame, stirring all the time to prevent sticking. Stir for about 30 minutes. Pour a little in a plate, and if it comes out without sticking to the plate, add the margarine, half the nuts, cardamom and nutmeg powder. Mix well and pour onto 2 ungreased trays, 8″ x 10″. Tilt to spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining nuts. Cool and cut into squares or diamonds. Keep overnight in the fridge if not consumed the same day.

Optional: You may want to add 1 packet of agar agar (a gelatin agent) in a ½ cup of warm water, cook for 5 minutes more, before adding the margarine and nuts, for firmness and better taste of halava.

From Israel Lentil Spread and Dabo (Ethiopian Bread)
Recipes courtesy of Ayala Yasu, an Ethiopian-Israeli, who in 1984 flew to Israel with Operation Moses

Lentil Spread
Ingredients 2 cups red lentils; 3 tablespoons oil; 2 medium onions, diced into cubes; 2 cloves garlic, crushed;1 cup boiling water; 1 teaspoon hot paprika; 1 ½ tablespoons sweet paprika; 1 tablespoon chicken soup; Salt to taste; Turmeric to taste (optional)

Preparation Cook the lentils until soft. Sauté onions and garlic in oil in a separate pan until soft. Add hot and sweet paprika and water; simmer on low flame for five minutes Add cooked lentils and chicken soup. Add salt and turmeric to taste.

Dabo Ingredients 2 ¼ pounds of flour; 2 tablespoons yeast; ½ teaspoon salt; 3 ½ cups lukewarm water.

Preparation Combine all ingredients and allow dough to rise about 1 ½ hours. Place dough in a large pan and bake until golden.

Note that Dabo can also be “baked” in a large pot over a very low flame. Once the dough appears dry, remove it from the pan, and cook on the other side until golden.

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