How to Eat like Queen Esther

Hortus_Deliciarum_1190Queen Esther must have had good taste. It was a pleasure to see how many people enjoyed the Persian style kiddush.

Here are recipes for some of the dishes that were served so that you, too, can dine like a queen…or king.

Chick pea spinach stewQueen Esther’s Stew ( chick peas and spinach) appeared in a previous Shomrei Week. You can find the recipe by clicking on or Googling “Queen Esther’s Chickpea Stew”

Even people who have never tried okra or say they don’t like it, were pleasantly surprised. Okra is NOT slimy. Naz Singh told me that she grew up on Bamieh or okra. Khoresht means stew.The dish is easy to prepare although not every market has okra. I buy the vegetable at Kan Man , an Asian grocery on Route 10 . It’s also available at times at the Farmer’s Markets on Route 10 and Route 46.

These recipes are also both vegetarian and vegan.

IMG_2145Khoresht Bamieh (Persian Okra Stew)
serves 4-6

500 g Okra, stem ends cut (a little more than 1 pound)
300 g potatoes, cut (about 11 ounces)
1 1/2 cups tomatoes chopped or a 14 oz can tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1-2 Tbsp. lemon or line juice
2 cups water
2 Tbsp. oil


  1. Puree tomatoes in a blender.
  2. Add 2 Tbsp. oil to a frying pan.
  3. Fry the onions and bay leaves for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minutes.
  5. Add turmeric and chili powder and fry for 30 seconds.
  6. Add tomato puree and fry for 6-7 minutes. The mixture will thicken.
  7. Add 2 cups of water,tomato paste, salt. Mix well.
  8. Add okra and potatoes. Bring to a boil.
  9. Let simmer covered about 20 minutes until cooked through.
  10. Turn off heat. Add lemon or lime juice.
  11. Adjust seasoning.

NOTE: This can be made with or without the potatoes. If you use a wooden spoon it will turn yellow from the turmeric.

With a substantial meal, a light, bright salad is perfect. This salad comes from the beautiful city of Shiraz but is also common throughout the Middle East. Adjust the proportions  of vegetables  to your taste.

orig_middle_eastern_salad_shirazi_201808271730301720063f0i9vSalad Shirazi (Persian Cucumber Tomato Salad)
serves 3

3 Persian or English cucumbers
1/2 red onion
2 tomatoes
4 Tbsp. lemon juice (or lime juice)
1 Tbsp. dried mint or 1/2 cup fresh mint
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. sumac (optional)


  1. Cut the cucumbers, onion and tomatoes into very small pieces.
  2. Mix them in a bowl and drizzle with lemon juice.
  3. Add dried mint, salt and pepper and sumac, if using. Toss to combine the salad with the dressing.
  4. Chill for 30 minutes to an hour and then serve.

NOTE: Optional to add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil. The salad can be refrigerated and kept for up to 2 days. Persian cucumbers are less than half the size of English cucumbers. Chick peas would also be a nice addition.

For those of you who like a light salad dressing, this recipe is for you. It’s simple, tasty and does not overwhelm the greens. And did you know that there is a proper way to dress a salad? Don’t just pour the dressing into the center of the bowl and then try to evenly distribute the dressing. Pour the dressing along the outside of the bowl; then gently toss from outside to center. The dressing will distribute more easily and the greens will take less of a beating. I’ve tried it; It really works.

Best-Middle-Eastern-Salad-DressingBest Middle Eastern Salad Dressing

4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons)
1/3 cup garlic or regular extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Za’atar seasoning


  1. Sprinkle salt over garlic and use the broad side of a knife alternately to squash and chop the garlic until a thick paste forms.
  2. Add the paste to a half pint sized jar along with rest of dressing ingredients.
  3. Screw on the jar lid and shake vigorously.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to use.

NOTE: You can try doing step 1 in a mini food processor.

GENERAL NOTE: Sumac and Za’atar can be found in most good spice departments. Fairway and Seasons have especially good selections. Or these spices can be purchased online.


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Aileen Grossberg

Aileen Grossberg

Aileen Grossberg, a professional librarian, is a long-time congregant and serves as volunteer librarian for Shomrei's Lampert Library. The library, one of the best-kept secrets at Shomrei is used by the Rabbi, congregants, students and teachers of the JLC (Hebrew School) and Preschool. It's a tremendous resource completely supported by your donations and gifts. Aileen also heads the Shomrei Caterers, the in-house food preparation group. Can there be any better combination…good food and good books!
Aileen Grossberg

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