Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Curried Shabbat

Last Friday night, 15 people somehow managed to squeeze into my very tiny, New York-sized apartment in Nachlaot, Jerusalem for Shabbat dinner. The meal was cooked by a professional cook, Orit Bon Appetit. The food, delicious. The goal? To bring together Israelis and Olim. The how? An Israeli host and an oleh/olah host each invite 5 guests or so to come together for an amazing meal. The sponsors? None other than the young-at-heart-and-in-years, Jerusalem Village.

I had actually found out about this amazing program from another blog post, and like that writer, I too jumped on the opportunity. What could be better? Food and dinner parties and new friends and old. But mainly, free food. Really, too good to be true!

The logistics: work on a menu with Orit. When asked what is my favorite food my family makes, I mentioned that I loved indian food and veggies (true story: my mom makes delicious alu gobi and chicken curry). With those few words, somehow Orit managed to use all of my favorite foods: ginger, scallions, cabbage (something I have only come to appreciate in Israel), sesame oil, cilantro and mint.

First, the menu was decided on and created:

  Spring Rolls* (see below for a how-to)
filed with vegetables, rice noodles
and Asian dip

Asian Cabbage Salad
with carrots, mushrooms and toasted sesame seeds 

Broad Beans
 with Tomatoes and Coriander with Lemon

Green Salad (see below center)
with Lettuce, Tarragon, Pumpkin Seeds, Green Apple and Sprouts in a Lemon-Date Vinagrete

Main Dish 
Chicken with Green
An Indian-Style Stew

Side Dishes 
Azuki Beans and Coffee (see below right)
Potatoes and Peas with Coconut Milk Curry (see below left)

 White rice


 Then, we cooked said menu with Orit....
My Roommate and Co-Olah Host, Malka, and I Hard at Work
Assaf, the Israeli Host, Prepping Some Potatoes

Then, all we had to do was serve the aforementioned food at a Shabbat meal with Israelis and Olim.

Done, done and done. We had a blast. Really fun. A lot of wine and great food. And, on a deeper level, I hope that we brought together Israelis and Olim, and that we helped spread the word of this amazing program. But, most of all, I enjoyed eating the leftovers!


* How to make Spring Rolls with vegetables, rice noodles and Asian dip

Step One: Prep your vegetables/ fillings. We used cabbage, carrots, zucchini, cucumbers and radishes all cut very finely, as well as cut up sections of mint (I LOVE mint in spring rolls), scallions and avocados. Then, if you are feeling adventurous or healthy, just add cooked rice noodles/ tofu (ours had a light dressing of sesame oil and/or soy sauce I think)

Step Two: Assemble the fillings and lay out on a table. Put hot water in a large pot and use the back of a large cutting board as a work surface

Step 3: Dip circular rice paper into the pot of hot water to soften (see picture above) and let sit for a few moments. The rice paper design should still be in tact

Step 4: Put a softened piece of rice paper on the work surface. Fill with fillings. Pull over the left side of the paper, then the right side, then roll up from the top to bottom.

Step 5: Brush with a combination of extra virgin olive oil and sesame oil to keep the rolls from sticking together.

Step 6: Serve with asian chilli sauce (surprisingly popular in Israel). I added some soy sauce (Orit's suggestion to stretch the sauce) and really liked it--oddly enough, the soy sauce gave the sauce both a fruity flavor and helped cut the sweetness.

Batay Avon!

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