Many customs related to eating special foods have developed around Purim. The most famous Purim food is hamantaschen [Yiddish for “Haman’s pockets”] which is also known [in Hebrew as] oznay Haman meaning “Haman’s ears.” In addition to eating hamantaschen filled with poppy seeds, fruit, cheese, or jellies, other foods are also traditional for Purim. Watch how to make perfect hamantaschen here.
A special Purim challah, known as keylitsh [kulich] in Russian, is sometimes made. This challah is oversized and extensively braided. The braids on the challah are intended to remind people of the rope used to hang Haman.
Kreplach are customarily eaten whenever “beating” takes place: before Yom Kippur when men have themselves flogged [rarely done in modern times], on Hoshanah Rabbah when the willow branches are beaten, and on Purim when Haman is beaten. The kreplach consist of triangular pouches of dough filled with chopped meat. They are eaten as a separate dish or served in soup.
Bean dishes are also eaten. They include salted beans boiled in their jackets, and chickpeas boiled and seasoned with salt and pepper: This is meant to remind us that Esther would not eat anything at the court of King Ahashuerus that was not kosher, so she mainly ate peas and beans. A similar idea is expressed regarding Daniel and his friends (Daniel 1:12).
Among Sephardic Jews, it is a custom to wrap pastry dough around a decorated hard-boiled egg to create the shape of a Purim character or an animal. After baking, these artistic creations (Folares) are displayed with pride and eaten with delight.
Reprinted with permission from Teaching Jewish Holidays: History Values and Activities, by Robert Goodman (ARE Publishing).
Purim Recipes on My Jewish Learning
For more Purim recipes, check out The Nosher, MyJewishLearning’s food blog.
Pronounced: PUR-im, the Feast of Lots, Origin: Hebrew, a joyous holiday that recounts the saving of the Jews from a threatened massacre during the Persian period.
Pronounced: seh-FAR-dik, Origin: Hebrew, describing Jews descending from the Jews of Spain.
Pronounced: yohm KIPP-er, also yohm kee-PORE, Origin: Hebrew, The Day of Atonement, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar and, with Rosh Hashanah, one of the High Holidays.