Preserving the Varied Cuisine of Jewish Culture: Herb and Meat Latkes

A common casual eatery or street food item, these small cakes are perfect in pitas or eaten on their own and can be made ahead and packed for a quick lunch.
By Annelise McAuliffe

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As a relatively young country, Israel is filled with a fascinating mixture of cultures and traditions. Their colorful cuisine is no different with bright flavors coming from places such as Morocco, Syria, and Turkey. Author of Jewish Soul Food: From Minsk to Marrakesh, Janna Gur, has successfully captured the food of her grandparents and the influences of neighboring cultures during her ancestor’s travels before settling in Israel. While the dishes she beautifully portrays are still well loved in Israel today, Janna wrote the book to ensure that they stay in the minds of cooks all over the world and are not lost.

The melting pot effect of immigrants to Israel has created stunning dishes and recipes for both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish cooking unlike anywhere else. Janna flawlessly recounts her experience with both cuisines and shares them with her readers. One of our favorite dishes is her herbed meat latkes or Ijeh B’Lahmeh that are usually enjoyed in home with a Syrian history. A common casual eatery or street food item, these small cakes are perfect in pitas or eaten on their own and can be made ahead and packed for a quick lunch.

Herb and Meat Latkes
 
A common casual eatery or street food item, these small cakes are perfect in pitas or eaten on their own and can be made ahead and packed for a quick lunch.
Author:
Recipe Type: Side
Cuisine: Syrian
Serves: 15-20 cakes
Ingredients
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • About 2 tablespoons matzo meal or breadcrumbs
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • ½ bunch fresh mint
  • 3 to 4 scallions
  • 10 ounces (300 grams) ground beef or a lamb and beef mix
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons pine nuts (optional)
  • vegetable oil for frying
To Serve: (optional)
  • Pita, bread rolls, or ciabatta
  • olive oil
  • slices of red onion
  • Tahini spread
  • tomato slices
  • chopped fresh herbs
Instructions
Prepare the pancakes
  1. Put the eggs, onion, matzo meal/bread crumbs, parsley, cilantro, mint, and scallions in a food processor. Pulse until the herbs are chopped. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Add the ground meat, salt, pepper, and pine nuts and mix thoroughly. Heat a little bit of vegetable oil in a large nonstick frying pan. With a large spoon, ladle in pancakes that are 3 inches (7 cm) wide and fry over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until deep golden in color. Be careful not to crowd the pan (work in batches).
  3. Remove to paper towels to drain.
To Serve
  1. If desired, brush the pita with olive oil and toast in a hot pan or oven. Arrange the pancakes on the bread (it will absorb the flavorful juices) and top with red onion, herbs, tomato, and tahini spread. If not serving at once, store the pancakes in the refrigerator, they are delicious cold or at room temperature in a sandwich or as a light snack.

 

Annelise McAuliffe

Annelise McAuliffe

Mandatory family outings to the Detroit farmers' market and nightly home-cooked meals cultivated Annelise's respect and curiosity for food. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, she spends her free time in New York City recipe testing, eating breakfast all day, and dreaming up international culinary adventures.

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