Make sure your kitchen is stocked with these essential ingredients.
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31 May 2013 - 3:24 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Matzo

Unleavened flatbread made from flour and water, which is baked quickly (resembling a cracker). It’s the substitute for bread during the Jewish holiday of Passover, when eating bread and leavened products is forbidden. According to Jewish tradition, when the Israelite slaves were fleeing Egypt, they didn't have time to wait for their bread to rise. The result was a cracker-like food called matzo. In commemoration of the Exodus, Jews eat matzo every year during Passover.

Matzo meal

After baking, matzo may be ground into fine crumbs, known as matzo meal. The coarse version of Matzo meal is used to make matzo balls (or "knaidlech" for chicken soup at Passover). It’s added to other foods, such as gefilte fish, to hold the ingredients together instead of flour. Passover cakes and biscuits are made with fine matza meal – these are more dense than conventional, flour-based cakes and biscuits.

Lokshen

Egg noodles. The fine noodles are used in chicken soup. Thicker lokshen are often baked in sweet or savoury "puddings".

White beans

An excellent, hearty filler for stews, and a favourite for use in cholent (Jewish stew).

Chickpeas

As a Kosher source of protein, chickpeas are highly prized in kosher cooking. Sephardic Jews used chickpeas for hundreds of years. In Israel (and across the Middle East), they're commonly used in hummus and falafel. Ashkenazi Jews add chickpeas to stews, soups and salads.

Pearl barley

Another favourite for cholent. Pearl barley is hulled barley that has been polished so that the ends of the kernel are removed. While pearl barley is lower in nutrients than hulled barley, it cooks faster and possesses a nut-like flavour.

Eggs

Popular in all forms in Jewish cuisine and used in doughs, cakes, lokshen and the quintessentially Jewish egg and onion salad. In Kosher supermarkets, only white eggs are available (these have been tested up to the light for blood spotting, in strict adherence to Kosher law). Otherwise, eggs need to be broken into a cup, one by one, to check for blood (that is, if you’re "keeping it Kosher").

Dill pickles

Small pickled cucumber which are particularly popular in Polish/Jewish households for eating with chopped liver, herrings, and egg and onion salad.

Bagels

The origin of the bagel is unknown (some say American, some say in European). The classic bagel is boiled to give a dense moist texture and remove some of the starch. They're either plain, or topped with poppy seeds, sesame seeds or salt.

Carrot

In Jewish cooking, sweet golden carrots are hugely symbolic. At Jewish New Year, carrot tzimmes is a favourite (honey baked carrots with prunes or sultanas), symbolising a sweet year ahead. In the classic gefilte fish, each fish pattie should be topped with a round of carrot (representing a gold coin).

Onions

Onions are pretty much the base for almost every stew and pot roast in the Ashkenazi tradition.