Cooking Class: Albóndigas and Sephardic Meatballs with Jennifer Abadi

Cooking Class: Albóndigas and Sephardic Meatballs with Jennifer Abadi


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What makes Albóndigas Sephardic, and where does the name come from? Learn a little bit about the history of this delicious meatball, and how to make it at home!

Whether as a soup or a stew, meatball dishes have become a classic staple in many cuisines around the world. Some of the earliest recordings of meatball recipes can be found in Arabic cookbooks dating back to medieval times. During the period of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula (al-Andalus) in the 8th to 15th centuries, Arabs introduced their meatball stews to Spain and Portugal, which later spread to parts of the Mediterranean and the Americas. Today, albóndigas recipes can be found throughout Latin America, as well as in Jewish communities whose ancestors fled the Iberian Peninsula during the Inquisitions (12th to 19th centuries).

In this hands-on cooking lesson, Jennifer will teach her own Syrian version of torpedo-shaped lamb and beef meatballs prepared with an earthy blend of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon and stewed in a tomato, lemon, and tamarind sauce that makes it distinctly Aleppan.

Led by Sephardic and Middle Eastern food instructor, Syrian cookbook author, and recipe preserver Jennifer Abadi, this interactive hands-on seminar will teach you how to make this cherished dish. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the flavors and techniques of this comfort food and how it lives on in Sephardic communities today!

We're not giving away our secret recipe* just yet, but here are the items that you will need for the cooking class:

  • Ground beef or lamb (or a mixture of the two)
  • Egg
  • Onions
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground cloves
  • Nutmeg
  • Ground coriander
  • Plain breadcrumbs, gluten-free breadcrumbs, or matzah meal
  • Pine nuts or coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Matzah cake meal, flour, or gluten-free flour
  • Tomato paste
  • Tamarind paste or pomegranate concentrate/syrup/molasses
  • Lemon juice
  • Dalt
  • Brown sugar
  • Measuring cups/spoons
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Small bowl
  • Large skillet or frying pan
  • *Participants will be provided with a formal recipe, including measurements, prior to the class.

    Jennifer Abadi is a native New Yorker, born, bred and raised on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She is half Sephardic (Aleppo, Syria) and half Ashkenazic (Riga, Latvia). She is a researcher, developer, and preserver of Judeo-Arabic and Sephardic recipes and food customs, focusing on the Jewish communities of the Middle East, Mediterranean, Central Asia, and North Africa. She is the author of two cookbooks: "Too Good To Passover: Sephardic & Judeo-Arabic Seder Menus and Memories from Africa, Asia and Europe" and "A Fistful of Lentils: Syrian-Jewish Recipes From Grandma Fritzie's Kitchen." Jennifer teaches cooking at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) and at the Jewish Community Center Manhattan (JCC), as well as privately. Jennifer has been providing Jewish Food & Culture tours on Manhattan’s Lower East Side for Context Travel since 2012."

    This conversation is suitable for all ages

    90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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