Some dishes just drip with family memories and Jewish history. That’s the case for Ruth Zimbler, a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor when it comes to kasha varnishkes, a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish dish. Zimbler learned to make this classic comfort food from her mother.
Zimbler, 92, was just a young child when Hitler marched into Austria, forcing her to flee on the Kindertransport. Of course, she was lucky to escape Europe and, even after a dangerous boat passage, eventually made it to the U.S. alive.
Zimbler carries on the stories and the recipes of her family today in her kitchen in New York City. Watch as Zimbler shares her Holocaust survival story — and her mother’s perfect, schmaltzy kasha varnishkes — with Arielle Kaplan. And below, follow Zimbler’s recipe to make a pot for yourself at home.
This video was made in partnership with Selfhelp Community Services.
- 3 Tbsp chicken fat (schmaltz)
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced fine
- 1 cup kasha
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 12 oz bowtie pasta
- salt and pepper
- Heat the schmaltz in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 10-15 minutes, until completely soft and starting to brown.
- Meanwhile, add the kasha with one beaten egg in a bowl. Make sure to stir the kasha and egg until its completely coated.
- In another frying pan, over medium heat, spread the kasha mixture with a wooden spoon until kernels are separated.
- Slowly add hot chicken broth to the pan and cover over low heat until all broth is absorbed.
- Boil bow tie pasta according to directions and drain.
- Combine the noodles with the onions and schmaltz. Layer the kasha on top of noodles and repeat until all of the noodles and kasha are used. Add an extra few tsp of schmaltz and mix all together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Selfhelp Community Services was founded in 1936 to help those fleeing Nazi Germany maintain their independence and dignity as they forged new lives in America. Today, Selfhelp provides home care and community-based services to more than 20,000 elderly and vulnerable New Yorkers each year, while remaining the largest provider of comprehensive services to Holocaust survivors in North America. For more information about Selfhelp and its mission, visit selfhelp.net or email firstname.lastname@example.org.