“We used to have Passover Seder in a different place every year: at my paternal Yemeni grandparents, at our house, or at one of the uncles’ houses, but the lunch of the holiday itself was always-always eaten at the house of my maternal grandmother- Aliza Kostika-who would lay a full table of different dishes,” says Sigi Mantel, author of the cookbook “Blessed by Your Hands”, which brings the stories, memories and Syrian-Damascus recipes from her grandmother’s kitchen. “The dish I most looked forward to was the Passover kebab- a matzah and meat pie with a tahini, walnut sauce, in the original version, or chopped peanuts in my grandmother’s version (who always looked for cheaper raw products to save money), lots of garlic and lemon of course – there is no dish in our kitchen without lemon . By the way, no one knows exactly why they call it Kebab, but that’s the name.”
The sauce is poured on the pastry when it is hot and left for a few moments to soak in. Serve the kebab with pickled stuffed peppers, another seasonal and refreshing family dish reserved mainly for Passover.
Ingredients for Matzah Kebab
- 12 matzahs
- 4 cups water for soaking matzah
- 1 teaspoon Salt
For the filling:
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1.1 lbs (500 grams) ground beef
- ½ teaspoon Baharat
- ground black pepper
For the batter:
- 4 eggs beaten
- ½ cup water
- ground black pepper גרוס
For the sauce:
- 7 oz (200 grams) peanuts peeled, finely chopped
- 1 bunch celery stalks with leaves, finely chopped
- 1 lemon juiced
- ¼ cup water
- 3 garlic cloves crushed
- ground black pepper
1. Fill a bowl or a wide pan large enough to fit a full matzah with water. Add a little salt and stir until it dissolves. Soak the matzah in water for a few seconds until it starts to soften, take out, transfer to a plate and cover with a damp towel. Repeat with all the matzah.
2. Heat an oven to 355F (180C) degrees and grease a baking pan with a little oil (you can also grease, line with parchment paper and grease the paper).
3. Beat eggs, water and salt in a wide bowl and dip half the amount of matzah in the batter and arrange at the bottom of the pan in as even a layer as possible.
Prepare the filling, assemble, and bake:
4. Pour olive oil into a wide frying pan, add the ground beef and mix and separate with a fork over medium heat for 7-8 minutes or until the meat is browned. Season with salt, black pepper and baharat and remove from the heat.
5. Drain out any excess liquid. Arrange the meat on top of the matzahs in an even layer.
6. Dip the remaining half of the matzah in the egg batter and arrange on top of the meat.
7. Pour half a cup of boiling water over the top layer of matzah, cover the pan with parchment paper and foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a minute or two to brown.
Prepare the sauce, pour over the kebab and serve:
8. Mix all the sauce ingredients in a bowl and pour over the kebab as soon as it comes out of the oven. Allow the sauce to soak in for a few minutes and serve, preferably with Syrian pickled stuffed peppers or any other fresh pickled vegetable.