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Imam Bayeldi but Let’s Hope You Don’t

Imam Bayeldi but Let’s Hope You Don’t

Did you know that summer leeks are traditional on Sephardic tables on Rosh Hashanah?  I did not. Here’s how it goes:

The Aramaic word for leeks is “karti”, which is very similar to the Hebrew, “yikartu”, meaning to “cut off”. We pray that our enemies will be “cut off”, allowing for safety and security of the Jewish people and all of our friends.

Long, layered stalks of Leeks are neatly lined up in your local markets now along with the long-awaited abundance of perfectly ripe tomatoes and gorgeous eggplants.

This is how we connect seasonal ingredients to holiday dishes. Yup, it goes beyond apples and pomegranates, for sure.

This deeply delicious side dish is called Imam Bayeldi. The story goes that when the Imam (substitute Rabbi, Guru, Minister, Priest, Deacon) tasted it, he fainted from pleasure.

Ok then. You may want to consider making this and providing smelling salts for your guests.

Imam Bayeldi may be made 2-3 days in advance and served at room temperature. It highlights end of summer tomatoes and eggplant and is savory with than an abundance of leeks.

If you like to make your side dishes ahead of the holidays, you’ll love this one. It only gets better as it rests and patiently waits  to be devoured.

Thank you, Ronnie Fein, author of Hip Kosher and blogger at Kitchen Vignettes, for this super easy and beautiful side dish.

I found the connection between Leeks and Rosh Hashanah in the brilliant and indispensable Encyclopedia of Jewish Foods by Gil Marks. This remarkably thorough and scholarly work is a guide to ingredients, recipes and world-wide Jewish culinary traditions. I keep this volume very close to my laptop and refer to it all the time.


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