In a few weeks, for the first time, I will celebrate a Jewish holiday in Israel. I have celebrated Purim many times before, but am excited about dressing up for the first time (in my adult life) with new friends and especially getting to try many types of Hamantaschen.
My name is Rachel Sophia Kruge, I am a culinary artist from Montclair, New Jersey currently conducting culinary research and creative media in Tel-Aviv, Israel. As the daughter of an Indian-Jewish woman who immigrated to the United States, I carry with me the legacy of a tight-knit community known as the Bene Israel people— an ancient community of Jews who fled Israel and migrated to the shores of western India beginning in 8th century BCE. In the middle of the 20th century, as efforts to return to the holy land intensified, many Bene Israel people emigrated to the newly formed State of Israel, where several communities reside today. Research is scarce on the history and traditions of the Bene Israel people and far less is known about their food practices that uniquely combine Indian and Jewish influences. My goal is to engage with and hopefully, one day serve as an ambassador for the rich and diverse cuisine of the Bene Israel.
I find inspiration through my mother, who through her own life travels and work, discovered the value of our heritage and its traditions, which motivated me to seek my own unique connection to our history. While in Israel, I will conduct research on the ancient culinary traditions and rituals of the Bene Israel community and highlight its distinctiveness through creative media. Food has the power to cross time, space, language, and culture to unify differences in people while exciting all the senses in one single delicious bite. I will highlight this unique Indian-Jewish culture through food’s powerful lens with hopes of one day spreading its flavors to taste buds around the world.
Puran Poli Hamantaschen with sweetened lentils, dates, & pistachios
Yield: 24 cookies
Based on a traditional Indian dish called puran poli, which was adopted by Bene Israel Jews as a custom on the holiday Purim, puran poli hamantaschen is an adaptation of the original recipe that combines it with another traditional Purim dessert, hamantaschen. Puran poli, also known as sweet flatbread, is traditionally made during Purim and served with a spicy lentil curry called
dal. The traditional puran poli recipe is made by rolling out the dough (poli), filling it with the sweet filling (puran), pinching the dough closed before rolling it out again into a flattened bread, to then be flipped on to a hot pan. Hamantaschen is a triangular-shaped cookie also made on Purim and filled with a variety of jams or chocolate. This recipe honors the two classic dishes to create an Indian Jewish Purim dessert that will surely keep you coming back for more!
- For Sweetened Filling (Puran):
- 1 cup chana dal or yellow split lentils
- 2 tablespoons ghee/clarified butter
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1 cup powdered jaggery (a concentrated form of sugarcane juice – substitute with one cup dark brown sugar plus 2 teaspoons maple syrup)
- ¼ cup chopped pistachios
- ¼ cup chopped dried dates
- For Hamantaschen dough:
- 2 cups AP flour
- 2 tablespoons semolina
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- ½ cup ghee/clarified butter
- Rinse the lentils well with water. Soak them for an hour and strain.
- Pressure cook your lentils in water for 5 – 7 minutes. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, add your soaked lentils to a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a gentle boil, partly cover, and cook for 45 minutes. Once your lentils have become very soft, strain the remaining liquid.
- In a bowl sift together the AP flour, semolina, powdered sugar, cardamom powder, baking powder, and salt.
- Combine the egg and ghee together. Add it to the dry mixture and combine until the dough forms. At first the dough will be crumbly but the warmth of your hands will help to melt the ghee and create a dough.
- Refrigerate your dough for 30 minutes. In the meantime, continue to prepare the filling. 6. In a pan on low heat, add ghee, nutmeg, and cardamom powder. Fry for a few seconds to release aromas.
- Add cooked lentils and jaggery (or dark brown sugar/maple syrup). Stir occasionally on a low to medium heat until the mixture becomes dry. Turn off heat once the lentil mixture is dry and thick.
- Let it cool and mash with a potato masher. Keep aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove dough from the fridge and divide into 2 sections. Place the dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll out to about ¼ inch thick. Using a 3 inch cookie cutter, cut into circles. Continue this process by balling up the scraps and rolling them out again. Repeat with the 2nd section of dough.
- Fill each circle with 1 tablespoon of sweetened puran filling. Fold over and pinch the corners to form a triangle.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until just starting to brown.
- Carefully remove cookies and let cool.