Glossary of Jewish Foods

Here at Challah Connection, Jewish food is our passion and the kosher bakery is the heart of our most popular gift baskets. From our many conversations with customers, we know that there are many who are not familiar with some of our outstanding delicacies. Our hope is that this glossary of Jewish foods will be useful to those seeking a deeper understanding of Jewish foods. For those of you who are know these foods well, feel free to add any personal anecdotes, family recipes or helpful comments. And, if you feel we’ve missed a favorite food, rather then kvetch, please post it as a comment!

-Jane Moritz, Challah Connection CEO, Chief Maven

-Babka: bab-ka. From Eastern Europe/Polish origin-a loaf-shaped coffee cake made with sweet yeast dough. A favorite treasure of the Jewish bakery.  Babka Set Challah Connection
-Bagel: ba-gel. A dense bread roll in the shape of a ring, made by boiling dough and then baking it. The origin of the bagel is still an issue for debate. Most food historians have come to the conclusion that the bagel is of Jewish origin, probably in Poland, sometime in the 17th century.  Bagels Challah Connection
 

 

-Bialy: bi-a-ly. A flat breakfast roll that has a depressed center and is usually covered with onion flakes. Yiddish, short for bialystoker, from bialystoker of Bialystok, city in Poland.

 
 

 

-Blintz: A thin pancake folded over a filling usually of apple, cream cheese, or meat which is fried or baked. Russian Origin.

 
 

 

-Brisket: Braised meat from the chest of a cow. In traditional Jewish cooking, brisket is most often braised as a pot roast, especially as a holiday main course, usually served at Rosh Hashana, Passover and Sabbath.

 
 -Challah: chal-lah. Hebrew Origin. The traditional loaf of rich egg bread, usually braided or twisted, eaten by Jews on the Sabbath and holidays.  Challah, Challah Connection
 

 

-Charoset: ha-ro-seth. Charoset is one of the symbolic foods that Jews eat during their Passover Seder every year. It represents the mortar that the Israelites used to make bricks while they were slaves in Egypt. A mixture of chopped nuts and apples, wine and spices.

 
 

 

-Cholent: cho-lent. A Jewish Sabbath dish of slowly baked meat and vegetables, prepared on a Friday and cooked overnight. Origin is Yiddish: from uncertain or unknown; perhaps French.

 
 

 

-Farfel: far-fel.   A popular side dish in Jewish Ashkenazi cuisine, are small, pellet-shaped, egg noodles. Yiddish origin.

 
 

 

-Gefilte fish: ge-fil-te fish.In Yiddish, gefilte fish means “stuffed fish.” A dish of stewed or baked stuffed fish, or of fish cakes boiled in a fish or vegetable broth and usually served chilled.

 
 -Hamantashen: ha-man-tasch. Triangular-shaped pastries that are traditionally eaten during the Jewish holiday of Purim. “Hamantaschen” is a Yiddish word meaning “Haman’s pockets.” Haman is the villain in the Purim story, which appears in the Biblical Book of Esther.  Hamentashen, Challah Connection
 

 

-Holishkes: hol-ish-kes. A traditional Jewish cabbage roll dish, served at Sukkot. Yiddish origin.

 
 

 

-Honey Cake: A traditional cake of the “land of milk and honey.” A must for Rosh Hashana since its sweetness symbolizes the wishes for a good year ahead.

 
 

 

-Kichel: kich-el.  A popular Jewish and Israeli sweet cracker or cookie commonly made with egg and sugar rolled out flat and cut into large diamond shapes. Origin Yiddish for “small cake”.

 
 

 

-Knish:   A knish or knysh is an Eastern European snack food made popular in North America by Eastern European immigrants.  A knish consists of a filling covered with dough that is either baked, grilled, or deep fried.

 
 

 

-Kugel: ku-gel. Kugel is a baked pudding or casserole, similar to a pie, most commonly made from egg noodles or potato. It is a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish dish, often served on Shabbat and Yom Tov.

 
 -Latkes: lat-ke. Potato pancakes are a traditional Jewish dish, often served during Hanukkah. The name is of Yiddish origin, and may have come from either Germany or Russia.  Latkes, Challah Connection
 -Lox: A fillet of brined salmon. Traditionally, lox is served on a bagel with cream cheese, and is usually garnished with tomato, sliced red onion, and sometimes capers. The word lox is derived from the German word for salmon.  Lox and Bagels, Challah Connection
 -Macaroons: A type of small circular cake, typically made from ground almonds or coconut, with sugar and egg white. Origin from French macaron, from Italian dialect maccarone.  Macaroons, Challah Connection
 

 

-Mandel Bread: The Yiddish word mandelbrodt literally means almond bread. It is made by forming dough into a loaf, baking it, slicing the loaf into oblong cookies. It is likely that Eastern European Jews fell in love with mandelbrot because it made the perfect Sabbath dessert.

 
 

 

-Matzah: Matzo, matza or matzah; is an unleavened bread traditionally eaten by Jews during the week-long Passover holiday.

 
 -Matzo Ball Soup: Matzo balls are an Ashkenazi Jewish soup dumpling made from a mixture of matzo meal, eggs, water, and a fat, such as oil, margarine, or chicken fat. Matzo balls are traditionally served in chicken soup.  Chicken Soup & Matzo Balls, Challah Connection
 -Rugelach: rug-a-lach. A Jewish pastry of Ashkenazic origin. Traditional rugelach are made in the form of a crescent by rolling a triangle of dough around a filling.  Rugelach, Challah Connection
 

 

-Sufganiot:   A sufganiyah is a round jelly doughnut eaten in Israel and around the world on the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. The doughnut is deep-fried, filled with jelly or custard, and then topped with powdered sugar

 
 -Teiglach: teig-lach. A Jewish confection made from spiced dough shaped into small balls and boiled in honeyed syrup. A popular dessert for Rosh Hashana to usher in a sweet New Year.  Tegalach, Challah Connection
 

 

-Tzimmes: tzim-mes. A sweet stew of carrots, yams and sometimes raisins or other dried fruits such as prunes or apricots. Including tzimmes in Rosh Hashanah is an old tradition traced back to Germany and Eastern Europe.

 
   

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