Beyond Sufganiyot and Latkes: 6 Delicious Recipes to Add Some Sephardic Flavor to Your Table (2024)

December 7, 2022Ellie Rudee and Crystal Hill


Beyond Sufganiyot and Latkes: 6 Delicious Recipes to Add Some Sephardic Flavor to Your Table (1)

Both of us love connecting to our Judaism through cooking. Ellie has written and edited cookbooks on the nexus of Jewish identity and food, while Crystal enjoys modifying and experimenting with recipes, especially challah and pies. As Hanukkah is deeply entwined with food, especially fried food, we've found some delicious Sephardic recipes to add to your celebration, sourced with permission from Hélène Jawhara Piñer's cookbook, Sephardi: Cooking the History. Hélène says that learning about Sephardic recipes is important, partially because, "transmission is at the heart of the Jewish tradition... learning [to make Sephardic] recipes is important [to ensure our] culinary heritage." So, get some oil ready and join us as we delve into the delicious variety of fried desserts that Sephardic cuisine has to offer!

1. Murakkaba: The Moroccan Mufleta

This dish's name comes from the Arabic word for "composed," which is fitting as the impressiveness of this recipe does not necessarily come from the dough or the topping, but the way it's made. This sweet fried dessert has been prepared in much the same way by Moroccan Sephardic Jews for generations: frying layers of dough together by flipping the confection upside down when each new layer is added.

2. Hojuelas, Fazuelos, or Fijuelas


Beyond Sufganiyot and Latkes: 6 Delicious Recipes to Add Some Sephardic Flavor to Your Table (3)

This dish is a familiar Purim favorite in Sephardic culture. Just as this treat is known by many names, it can be made for many different holidays. This dish is made of thin rolled strips of pastry dough which is fried and covered in sugar. The fact that they are fried in oil makes them perfect for Hanukkah, while their characteristic shape is reminiscent of Esther's megillah, the scroll read during Purim. Whenever you choose to enjoy these, you will love their tenderness and the way they melt in your mouth!

3. Isfenğ: The Andalusian Donut


Beyond Sufganiyot and Latkes: 6 Delicious Recipes to Add Some Sephardic Flavor to Your Table (4)

This pastry, also known as sfenğ, is commonly made by Jews and Muslims in Morocco and Israel. The recipedates to13th century Al-Andalus. The dish is now prepared year-round by street food vendors in Morocco but is considered a Hanukkah staple among Moroccan and Israeli Jewish households.

4. Nuegados: Orange and Honey Fried Dough


Beyond Sufganiyot and Latkes: 6 Delicious Recipes to Add Some Sephardic Flavor to Your Table (5)

This dessert hails from northwestern Spain. A little-known fact about nuegados is that they were used as a litmus test for Spanish Jews and conversos during the Spanish Inquisition. Merely giving these delicious pastries to someone could cause someone to be reported to the authorities, which was what happened to Diego Arias from Medina de Campo in 1490. Nuegados are also mentioned in the book "La Lozana Andaluzia" by Spanish converso Francisco Delicado. When the main character flees from Andalusia to Rome, she tells the women there how she learned to make these treats from her grandmother.

5. Maqrūt: Fried Diamonds with Dates and Walnuts

This recipe is another treat that Moroccan Jews and Muslims have enjoyed since the 13th century when it originated in Al-Andalus. These tasty tidbits are now tied to both Jewish and Muslim holidays. Muslims eat this fried honey pastry to break their Ramadan fast, while Sephardim in Morocco and France eat the same dish for Rosh HaShanah and Hanukkah.

6. Neulas Encanonadas: Brick Pastry Rolls with Almonds and Honey


Beyond Sufganiyot and Latkes: 6 Delicious Recipes to Add Some Sephardic Flavor to Your Table (7)

Our final recipe dates back at least to 15th century Spain. In the city of Almazan, conversos were reported to the Inquisition tribunal for preparing these cigar-shaped pastries during Semana Santa, a feast that coincides with Passover. Even though this dish may not be traditionally associated with Hanukkah, its fried goodness will add a new dimension of sweetness to your Hanukkah spread.

We hope you've enjoyed learning about these delicious treats, and the stories behind them. If you're looking for even more tasty recipes for your Hanukkah celebrations, check out our Hanukkah recipe collection and video cooking tutorials!

  • Hanukkah
  • Dessert Recipes

About the Authors

Ellie Rudee

Beyond Sufganiyot and Latkes: 6 Delicious Recipes to Add Some Sephardic Flavor to Your Table (8)

Ellie Rudee (she/her) is the marketing and content manager for the Union for Reform Judaism. Since graduating from Scripps College in 2015, she madealiyah to Israel and has worked as a journalist focusing on global Jewry and culinary arts, and in marketing and PR. She is a trained culinary tour guide of Jerusalem, started the Jerusalem Cooking Club for young Jerusalemites, and has hosted local and international cooking workshops and retreats. Her first cookbook, Tastes of Freedom: A Passover Cookbook, was published in 2022 and was translated toSpanish andRussian. She loves to teach people about the intersections of food, culture, and Jewish peoplehood.Follow her adventures in Israel on Instagram at @foodierudee.

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Crystal Hill

Beyond Sufganiyot and Latkes: 6 Delicious Recipes to Add Some Sephardic Flavor to Your Table (9)

Crystal Hill (she/her/hers) is a copy writer/editor for the Union for Reform Judaism. She holds an M.A. in Rhetoric, Composition, and Literature from Northern Illinois University, with a Certificate of Graduate Study in Professional Writing. She lives with her husband, son, and cat in the Greater Chicagoland Area.

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Beyond Sufganiyot and Latkes: 6 Delicious Recipes to Add Some Sephardic Flavor to Your Table (2024)


What do Sephardic people eat for Hanukkah? ›

Sephardic Hanukkah dishes include cassola (sweet cheese pancakes), bimuelos (puffed fritters with an orange glaze), keftes de espinaka (spinach patties), keftes de prasa (leek patties) and shamlias (fried pastry frills).

Why is fried food eaten at Hanukkah? ›

They found a jug of oil that only contained enough fuel to keep the Temple's lamps lit for one day. However, the oil lasted for eight whole days! This miracle is the reason we eat foods fried in oil to celebrate Hanukkah and remember the Maccabees.

Can Sephardic Jews eat popcorn? ›

Popcorn is made from corn, which is included in the general class of kitniyot, foods that Ashkenazim (and some Sephardim) may not eat on Passover.

Do Sephardic Jews eat oatmeal during Passover? ›

Oats are widely considered chametz and are therefore forbidden during Passover.

Do Sephardic celebrate Hanukkah? ›

In the Sephardic tradition only the head of the household lights the Hanukkah oil (this differs from the Ashkenazi tradition where any member of the family can light candles on a menorah), so each night, Abraham, the patriarch of the Confino family, would light the oil to represent another night that the sacred oil ...

Do Sephardic Jews eat latkes? ›

Only the Jews of Eastern European or Ashkenazi origin insist that the food prepared in the oil be latkes. Among Sephardic Jews, who settled throughout the Middle East, North Africa and southern Europe after the Diaspora, various dishes are deep-fried.

What do Sephardic Jews eat at Passover? ›

Sephardic Passover Main Dishes
  • Braised Beef Brisket.
  • Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes.
  • Mujadara.
  • Slow Cooker Chipotle Brisket with Cranberry Sauce.
  • Mediterranean Fish in Tomato Sauce.
  • Pomegranate Glazed Salmon.
  • Herb Braised Lamb Shanks.
  • Middle Eastern Roasted Vegetable Rice.

What do Sephardic Jews eat for Passover? ›

And unlike Ashkenazi Jews, Sephardic Jews eat rice and legumes (like chickpeas, beans and lentils) during the holiday, which is forbidden for observant Ashkenazis. But both avoid leavened foods, like pasta, cereal, cakes, bread and cookies – and instead eat matzos, lots of matzos.

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