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Sephardic Cuisine

Because of their presence in the Mediterranean, Sephardic cuisine is rich and varied, with a strong emphasis on vegetables, rice, and beans. In fact, while Ashkenazi Jews will not consumer rice, corn, or beans during Passover, it is common practice among Sephardim to do so. There is a special name for these types of food eaten during passover: kitniot.

In my personal experience, Askhenazi food seems to salty. In contrast, many Sephardic dishes are very, very sweet. This may have to do with a readier supply of honey, which is used to drench nearly every kind of dessert. Also, Sephardim had readier access to spices, so their dishes tend to use them abundantly.

Some excellent Sephardic foods:

  • Roscas -- ring shaped breads that are lightly sweetened with honey and cinnamon.
  • Biscochos -- small cookies shaped like in rings just like small roscas. These are incredibly sweet and buttery.
  • Fritata -- a casserole made of shredded vegetables and eggs. Similar to a quiche, although it's mostly vegetable whereas a quiche is mostly eggs.
  • Arroz de Sabato (Sabbath Rice) - Rice pilaf flavored and colored by saffron
  • Taramasalata -- this is technically a Greek dish, but was a favorite among my Sephardic relatives. A spread made of caviar, white bread, and olive oil. Salty and delicious.
  • Sephardic Charoset - unlike the apple-based Ashkenazi concotion, the Sephardic version uses dates and has a thicker, more smearable texture. In that sense, it actually more closely resembles the mortar that the charoset is meant to emulate.
  • Ful -- dishes made with fava beans are generally referred to using the Arabic word ful, or occasionally pul. Fava beans, widely available in the Mediteranean, are one of the staples of Sephardic cooking.

Widely-used ingredients in Sephardic Cooking