Make sure your kitchen is stocked with these essential ingredients.
13 May 2013 - 6:16 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM


Originating in South Germany, bagels are a distinctly Ashkenazi food. The round yeast bun with a hole in the middle has become a culinary icon. The buns are immersed in boiling water before they are baked to make sure the crust remains chewy, rather than crisp. They are often brushed with egg to make the exterior shiny, but syrup may be added to the boiling water to achieve the same goal.

Matzo or matzah

The long oblong matzo is an unleavened Passover “bread” (it is more like a water cracker in consistency). It is the only flour product allowed to be consumed during Passover. Crumbled matzo is also used as an ingredient (matzo meal) to make matzoh balls.

Jaffa orange

Jaffa oranges are the sweet symbol of Israel. They are almost seedless and keep well once picked.

Pickled herring

A typically Ashkenazi food, herrings are first salted and then pickled in a solution of vinegar, salt and sugar. Sometimes flavourings such as bay leaves or peppercorns are added.


Pronounced “hallah” is a sweet, eggy braid consumed on the Jewish Sabbath, Chamin. Two loaves of challah are served at each of the three Sabbath meals. It is generally braided, but maybe made in different shapes for different religious ceremonies.


Chickpeas are a one of the earliest cultivated vegetables and have been extremely popular across the Middle East for thousands of years. In Israel these legumes play an important role in their cuisine. Preparations include felafel (deep fried chickpea balls served in pitta) and hummus (a chickpea paste).


Derived from the Hebrew word for sponge, these ball-shaped doughnuts are first fried, then injected with jelly and sprinkled with sugar. They are particularly popular in the weeks leading up to the Hannukah holiday. They are considered a specifically “Israeli” Hannukah treat.

Schmaltz or schmalx

Rendered chicken, goose or pork fat that is used for frying or to spread on a piece of bread as a snack. It was also used by Northwestern and Eastern European Jews who were forbidden by kashrut to fry their meat in butter or lard.