Sephardi: Cooking the History, Hélène Jawhara Piñer’s 2021 cookbook, delves deep into Jewish history to illuminate dishes that were once prepared in times fraught with anti-Semitism: food was a way to reveal and preserve Jewish identity. This recipe for Tortitas de Acelga is excerpted from the book with the author’s kind permission. We served the tortitas with sour cream, a fresh endive salad (not shown here), and melon spiced with salt and Aleppo pepper.
Piñer’s Tortitas de Acelga recipe combines some of the main ingredients of Sephardic cuisine from Spain: Swiss chard, eggs, garlic, and olive oil. It is made with chickpea flour, a perfect dish for Passover.
Tortitas de Acela: Chickpea Flour Croquettes with Swiss Chard Recipe
1 bunch of Swiss chard
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 saffron strand (or ⅛ tsp yellow food coloring)
1/2 tsp salt
2 ¾ cups (250 g) chickpea flour
1 ¼ cup (250 ml) water
Neutral oil for frying
- Wash the chard and separate the green leaves only (the stalks can be used for another dish). Boil some salted water and cook them for 4 minutes. Drain and rinse them with cold water to keep them green, and squeeze them to remove all the water.
- Mix the crushed garlic, baking powder, egg, saffron, and salt in a bowl with a spoon.
- Finely cut the chard with a knife. Add it to the bowl, followed by the chickpea flour.
- Finally, pour in the water little by little. The preparation must remain thick.
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a frying pan.
- Take a spoonful of the mixture, and with two spoons, form small croquettes. Fry for 2 minutes on each side. Put them on a paper towel before serving.
Cook with Hélène Jawhara Piñer:
Eggplants and Sephardim have become a true culinary love story. There are so many eggplant dishes consumed by Sephardic Jews from Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Morocco, and more. Nowadays, eggplant dishes are traditionally prepared to break the fast in Jewish communities.
Also called sfenğ, this fried pastry is common among Jews and Muslims especially in Morocco and Israel. It is also calledesponja (“sponge”) in Spanish, a word derived from the Arabic term sjenğ of the same meaning. The recipe dates back to the thirteenth century, when this and similar dishes were popular in al-Andalus.
Maqrūt is another type of fried honey pastry typical to Jews and Muslims from Morocco, and this recipe dates back to thirteenth-century al-Andalus. These tasty pastries flavored with honey and dates are now associated with the holidays: Muslims eat maqrūṭ when breaking the fast of Ramadan, and Sephardim of Morocco and France eat them for Rosh Hashana.
And a special Hanukkah 75 cocktail from TABLE Magazine!
Sephardi: Cooking the History can be purchased through your favorite bookstore or online. For the rest of our article on Sephardi, click here.
Story by Maggie Weaver / Photography by Scott Goldsmith / Styling by Keith Recker / Food by Veda Sankaran
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