PURIM: A Sweet Celebration.
Published in: Veggie Life
Date: March, 1997
So here are some recipes from Jewish kitchens around the world, to help you celebrate Purim, observe the coming of spring, and enjoy some good food. 

Moroccan Chickpea and Lentil Soup
When Queen Esther lived in the palace of King Ahasuerus, she ate vegetarian, particularly lots of legumes, so as to keep kosher.  And that's how chickpeas (hummus in Hebrew) have become traditional for Purim. This particular version makes a good starter or main dish.

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons oil
1-1/3 cups lentils
12 cups water
1-1/2 cups pre-cooked chickpeas, drained (or a 16-ounce can)
2/3 cup fresh cilantro (1 bunch), finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger or 1 inch fresh ginger, chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon salt
pepper to taste
2 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
4 tablespoons lemon juice

Soak lentils over night, then drain, or boil for 10 minutes and drain.  Saute onion and celery (and ginger, if using the fresh ginger) with oil in a large pot over medium-high heat for 3 minutes.  Add lentils and water.  Cover pot and cook over medium heat for 40 minutes. Add chickpeas, cilantro, and seasonings.  Cook 10 minutes longer.  Add tomatoes and lemon juice and cook 10 more minutes.  Serve hot.
Makes 6 servings.

Lebanese Green Bean Salad
Another legumous Middle Eastern treat, this green bean salad is delicious, refreshing, and very easy to make.

1 pound fresh green beans, ends removed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 small onion (red is sweeter and more festive, but yellow will do, too), peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1. Chop the onion and parsley, mince the garlic, and prepare the beans.
2. Cut beans in half and steam over boiling water for 5 minutes or until tender. 
3. Place steamed beans in a large bowl.  Stir in garlic, onion, lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, salt and pepper, and mix well. 
4. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
Makes 6 servings.

Pomegranate Tofu with Couscous
This is a sweet and festive dish of Sephardi origins that goes perfectly with the essence of Purim.  It's also quick and easy to make, and tastes great.

1/2 teaspoon each of ground marjoram and curry powder
1/4 teaspoon each allspice and cinnamon
1 pound tofu
1-1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoon honey
1-1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice, fresh or bottled
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoon minced parsley
1/2 cup dark seedless raisins
3/4 cup couscous
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
sliced fresh apricots or seedless grapes

1.  In a cup, combine and blend spices.  Drain tofu, cut in bite-size pieces, and coat with spices.
2.  Heat oil in large iron skillet or in a Dutch oven and cook minced ingredients over medium-high heat, stirring often, until lightly browned (about 5 minutes).  Add tofu.  Combine stock with honey, lemon juice, and pomegranate juice, then add to the mixture.  Also add the carrots, raisins, and half the parsley.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes.
3.  Sprinkle couscous into the liquid and stir.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove pot from heat and let stand for 10 minutes, still covered.  Serve garnished with remaining parsley and fresh fruit.
Makes 6 servings.

Potatoes With Poppy Seeds
Poppy seeds are the most traditional Purim ingredient of all, and are usually employed in sweet, honeyed desserts. Here's a Ashkenazi-based poppy seed dish with some heat to it, instead.

6 firm, small potatoes
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 whole red chilies
1-1/4 cups poppy seeds
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 fresh hot green chilies

1.  Peel the potatoes and cut them into 3/4 inch cubes.
2.  Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, put the potatoes into the pan.  Stir and fry the potatoes so they are very lightly browned - just golden - and only half cooked.  Remove them with a slotted spoon.
3.  Put the red chilies into the same oil.  As soon as they start to darken, put in the ground poppy seeds and 2 tablespoons of water.  Stir and saute this paste 2-3 minutes.
4.  Now add the potatoes, the rest of the water, the turmeric, cayenne pepper, salt, and green chilies.  Stir this mixture and bring it to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the potatoes are done and most of the water is absorbed.  Note:  Don't eat the whole chilies unless you know what you're getting into. 
Makes 6 servings.

Hamantaschen with Apricot/Prune or Poppy-Seed filling
Hamantaschen are to Purim what decorated eggs are to Easter.  It's not what the holiday's about, but it's what people remember. Yiddish for "Haman's Pockets"  hamantaschen are a comic pastry rendition of Haman's three-cornered hat, filled with poppy seeds or fruit.  In fact, poppy seed is "mohn" in Yiddish, and some think that poppy seeds got so popular for Purim because mohn sounded so close to Haman, which is as good a theory as any.  

The Dough
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 tablespoons dark or light brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2-1/2 cups all-purpose white flour, preferably unbleached (you can use half whole wheat flour, if you'd prefer)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  For the dough, use an electric mixer at medium speed (or mix by hand) in a medium-sized mixing bowl to cream the butter with the brown sugar and honey until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla.  Then mix in the baking powder, soda, and flour until the dough is well combined and forms a ball.  Wrap it in plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate for several hours, or until it is quite firm.  (The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days.) 
3.  When ready to bake, remove dough from refrigerator and roll out on lightly floured board to 1/8 inch thickness.  Cut out approximately 15 four-inch rounds, using a cookie-cutter or thin-edged glass (like a wine glass).  Place 1 teaspoon filling (see recipes below) in center.  Fold up edges by thirds, leaving an opening in the center and pinching edges together where they meet (pinch well, so the cookie holds its shape while baking), so the finished shape is triangular.
4.  Place about 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet lightly greased with a spray  and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until dough is brown.
5.  Enjoy warm or cold.
Makes about 30 Hamantaschen.

Poppy Seed Filling
1 cup poppy seeds
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger, ground cardamom, and freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons finely minced orange zest
1/4 cup chopped dark seedless raisins or chopped dates
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsweetened seedless raspberry jelly
1 teaspoon sweet butter

1.  Fine grind the poppy seeds in a clean coffee bean grinder, or break them up in a mortar and pestle. 
2.  Transfer to saucepan, add apple juice, ground ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, honey, orange zest, raisins or dates, and lemon juice, and bring to a boil. 
3.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered and stirring often, till all liquid evaporates and mixture thickens. 
4.  Stir in butter and jelly, and refrigerate till well-chilled.
Makes enough for 30 hamantaschen.

Apricot/Raisin Filling
1/4 pound dried apricots
1/2 pound raisins
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon minced lemon zest
1 tablespoon flavorful honey
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1.  Put apricots and raisins in a saucepan, add apple juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, coriander, and lemon zest, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. 
2.  Uncover, raise heat to a slow boil, and cook until liquid is reduced by half (about 8 minutes), stirring often.  Remove from heat, cover, and let stand till cool. 
3.  Puree in food mill or food processor, and add honey and vanilla.  If prepared a day ahead and refrigerated, just bring to room temperature before using.
Makes enough for 30 hamantaschen.

Moroccan Couscous
This is a light dessert that's tasty and holiday-like and ridiculously easy to prepare.

1-1/2 cups orange juice or other juice
3/4 cup water
1-1/2 cup couscous
3/4 cup water
2/3 cup pitted dates, finely chopped
2/3 cup raisins
2/3 cup slivered almonds
1-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1.  Bring juice and 3/4 cup of water to a boil in a small pot.  Remove from heat.  Stir in couscous and allow to sit covered for 5 minutes.
2.  Meanwhile, in a separate pan, saute dates, raisins, almonds, and cinnamon in 3/4 cup water for 2 minutes.  Add cooked couscous.  Mix well and serve warm.
Makes 6 servings.

Polish Apple Blintzes
Blintzes are thin pancakes traditionally made with eggs and flour and stuffed with cheese, potatoes, or fruit.  In this recipe the eggs have been eliminated, and replaced with cornstarch and a banana to make a lighter version of an old Ashkenazi favorite.

4 apples, cored and chopped finely
4 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-1/2 cups unbleached white flour
2 cups soy milk
8 tablespoons cornstarch
2 small bananas, mashed

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.
2. Place chopped apples, water, and cinnamon in a small saucepan.  Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes until apples become tender.  Set mixture aside to cool.
3. Blend flour, soy milk, cornstarch, and bananas in a blender, food processor, or with a fork.  Pour about 7 tablespoons of batter into a small lightly oiled preheated frying pan (a crepe pan works best). 
4. Spread batter around by tilting the pan.  Cook over medium heat until top is no longer moist.  Slide off with a spatula and place it on a napkin to cool, then repeat the process until 12 pancakes have been made.
(Note:  Do not use too much oil or the blintzes will be greasy.  If the pancake breaks, you aren't cooking it long enough, and if too crisp, you're overcooking them.)
5. Place 1/12 of apple mixture on each pancake and roll up the pancake.  Place blintze in a lightly oiled baking pan and bake for half hour until light brown.
Makes 6 servings.

Romanian Sweet Pasta
Traditionally, more nuts are used, but this mixture is delicious as is, and it adds an authentic European cap to a Purim meal.

12-ounce package eggless pasta
9 cups water
3/4 cup honey
1/3 cup ground walnuts or 1/4 cup ground poppy seeds, or a mixture
1/2 teaspoon lemon rind, minced
1-1/3 cups raisins
1/2 teaspoon powdered cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Cook pasta in boiling water until done, then drain.
2. Heat honey and walnuts or poppy seeds in a large pot over medium heat for 2 minutes and add lemon rind, raisins, clove powder, and cinnamon. 
3. Continue cooking for 3 more minutes, then add cooked pasta.  Mix well and serve warm, or you can pour the mixture into a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes before serving if you want the top a little crispy.
Makes 6 servings.