Sephardic, or Sepharad (in Hebrew), is a biblical name with which the Jewish tradition identifies the Iberian Peninsula. Sephardic Jews are the Jews who lived in this peninsular region, who were expelled by force, after the Edicts of expulsion of the Catholic Monarchs in 1492 and of Portugal in 1496.
At first (16th century), the Castilian and Aragonese Sephardic Jews emigrated mostly to the Ottoman Empire where they received a good reception. Sephardic Jews located in Portugal emigrated mainly to northern Europe, the Netherlands being an important destination. They took root, above all, in those places where the religious pressure of radical Catholicism was less, where it was possible to obtain a better quality of life, culture, and practice the practice of Judaism.
During much of the Middle Ages, both in Al-Andalus and also in Christian territories such as in the Kingdom of Castile, in the Kingdom of Aragon and in the Kingdom of Navarre, the Jews formed a prosperous community economically and very influential in the political sphere. However, from the fourteenth century, the unrest and subsequent persecution against the Jews began, motivated by the late medieval crisis and by Christian fanaticism. Faced with this situation, many emigrated by not converting to Christianity and others decided to stay forcing them to be baptized. Many of the converts, as well as those who had emigrated to other places, maintained their Judaic culture, rites and customs. They also preserved their music, their language and their gastronomy.
In this post we are going to focus on Sephardic cuisine and explain some of its most popular recipes:
At lunchtime, Sephardic cuisine highlights vegetables and lamb, a sacred animal for the Jews. This gastronomy could be considered a combination between Arab and Jewish culinary customs, since the coexistence of both was notorious for centuries throughout Spain, particularly in Cordoba.
The dishes are based on fried aubergines, pumpkin, cheese patties and other delicacies. Also, thanks to the Sabbath they have bequeathed us the custom of eating fish on Fridays, either smoked or in brine.
Anchovies in vinegar
Ingredients: anchovies, extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, water, garlic and parsley.
With a little cold water, the anchovies are cleaned and all their impurities are removed. To avoid anisakis poisoning, it is necessary to freeze the anchovies for a minimum of 48 – 72 hours.
We mix the vinegar with the salt and added few drops of water. Let it marinate for at least half a day. We drain the anchovies and place them in a source. Cut the garlic and parsley to add them to the faced-up anchovies. We cover with oil.
We will need a large eggplant, half a cup of extra virgin olive oil, an onion, a clove of garlic, tomatoes, ground pepper, salt and grated cheese.
The aubergine is cut into slices and sprinkled with plenty of salt. They are then washed and drained. They are placed in a pan with the preheated oil and the onion and garlic are added, lowering the heat. Finally, the tomatoes are placed. Take off the heat and add plenty of grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
The fish is cut into pieces. It is seasoned with salt and pepper and finely chopped spices are added. They are placed in a glass dish and drizzled with lemon juice. We stir well and let it marinate for two or three hours with a damp cloth on top. When serving, remove the marinated pieces and drain well, then wrap them in plenty of flour to coat them. The excess flour is removed and fried in olive oil.
Ingredients: 250 grams of raw ground almonds, 250 grams of icing sugar, 1 egg.
We add the almond and the sugar. Add the egg white and knead until we get a manageable dough. The dough should not stick to your hands.
We wrap it in plastic and let it rest for half an hour to hydrate. We cut it into pieces and make it into little figures. Let rest. Finely brush the upper part of each figure with the mixture obtained from an egg yolk. We bake and leave it on the same tray until it cools.
They are eggs cooked for hours until the yolks are creamy and buttery, and the whites turn to a light brown color. They are eaten on Shabbat and other holidays related to important moments in the cycle of life.
All these dishes of Sephardic gastronomy are offered in many prestigious restaurants in Andalusia. For this reason, all those interested in taking a Sephardic tour and finish it in a typical Sephardic restaurant, please to proceed with your booking.