Purim is noisy, rowdy and ultimately delicious. We shout and stomp our feet and crank our graggers. We eat, we drink and we make merry — we must, it is one of the mitzvahs of this holiday!
In my opinion, no other Jewish celebration is as much fun.
But there’s a more serious and heartwarming side to Purim too. When we are in synagogue and listen to the Megillah of Esther, we hear about the Jews of Shushan, who rejoiced in their deliverance from Haman by sending gifts of food to friends. This, the mitzvah of mishloach manot, endures to this day. It has become our way of reaching out to our family, friends and those in need.
In accordance with our tradition, we are to give two items of ready-to-eat food and/or drink to each person on our list. Some people send gift baskets, which of course is perfectly fine, but can be expensive. Homemade food – a kugel, some cookies or a container of soup – or any other simple, homemade specialty is enough to show the value of a relationship.
This year Purim begins at sundown on February 28th. In keeping with our mishloach manot tradition, here is a list (with links to recipes) of edible gifts that you can prepare in your own kitchen, plus a recipe for Honey-Za’atar Spiced Roshinkes mit Mandlen (Raisins and Almonds), a snack as luscious as the lullaby it is named for.
Hamantashen (of course)
10: Honey-Za’atar Roshinkes mit Mandlen
In this recipe, the raisins will become crunchy when cooled (as we love them!). If you prefer them to be softer, separate the nuts and raisins, toss with the honey mixture separately, and add the raisins to the oven five minutes after you bake the almonds.
2 cups whole almonds
1/2 cup raisins
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon za’atar plus 1 teaspoon za’atar
salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the almonds and raisins in a bowl. Heat the honey and olive oil together over medium heat for a minute or so until the liquid is thin and uniform. Pour over the nuts and raisins and toss to coat them completely. Sprinkle in one tablespoon za’atar and salt, toss and spread evenly in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, turning the nuts and raisins once or twice, or until crunchy and lightly golden brown (the raisins will become crunchy too). Remove from the oven and sprinkle with one teaspoon za’atar. Toss and let cool.
Makes 2 cups.
Ronnie Fein is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher in Stamford. She is the author of The Modern Kosher Kitchen and Hip Kosher. Visit her food blog, Kitchen Vignettes, at www.ronniefein.com, friend on Facebook at RonnieVailFein, Twitter at @RonnieVFein, Instagram at @RonnieVFein