Since moving to Brooklyn from Israel a little over four years ago, Ron and Leetal Arazi have dedicated themselves to sharing the Middle Eastern and North African foods they grew up with through their artisanal company New York Shuk.
They met in the kitchen of a Tel Aviv restaurant — he at the meat station; she as a pastry cook — where, in Leetal’s words, they spent a lot of time in the walk-in fridge before getting married. Driven by an infectious passion for their culinary heritage, they have introduced a line of handmade harissa (watch this video to see them churn it out): two varieties of the traditional paste — one of which contains preserved lemons for a briny citrus finish — and three varieties of a dry spice mix, which they developed for applications where a spread doesn’t quite cut it, such as sprinkling on pizza or rubbing on meat or fish for the grill.
You can order the harissa online to give as gifts, and while you’re on the website, check out their classes and dinners, and consider giving someone a great learning experience as a Hanukkah present. If you’re in New York on December 25th, skip the Chinese food and a movie and take a friend to meet Ron and Leetal at their Hanukkah Fricassee cooking class, where they’ll teach the group how to fry up Tunisian rolls and stuff them with harissa, olives and potato salad before lighting the menorah together.
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Gayle Squires is a food writer, recipe developer and photographer. Her path to the culinary world is paved with tap shoes, a medical degree, business consulting and travel. She has a knack for convincing chefs to give up their secret recipes. Her blog is KosherCamembert