Hanukkah Face-Off: Sephardic Dish #7


Sephardic-Uzbek shish kebabs, top to bottom: chicken hearts, ground-beef lulya, lamb, and marinated chicken

Hanukkah is a time for enjoying Jewish culinary traditions with family and friends, and to that end we present a daily competition between Ashkenazi and Sephardic food, going up around sunset on the first seven days of Hanukkah – and presenting a wrap-up as the sun goes down on the eighth day. Whose food is the most appealing? Help us decide with your comments and social media shares.

Who doesn’t love shish kebabs, especially when grilled over lump charcoal and as smoky as a fire fighter’s helmet?

Shish kebabs are the centerpiece of the menu of Nargis Cafe, a Silk Road Brooklyn spot specializing in the Jewish cooking of Tashkent. (There have been other prominent Sephardic communities of Persian-speaking Jews in Bukhara and Samarkand — a city visited by Marco Polo in the Middle Ages.)

The kebabs are mainly lamb and chicken, individually cooked in a way that uses much less energy than other ways of cooking meat, and hence the method was proto-ecological when it was first invented. Small morsels of meat cook in a flash.

And in the days before New York had great barbecue, the kebabs of Jewish-Uzbek places like Cafe Nargis were a convincing substitute.

Check out the entire Ashkenazi vs. Sephardic melee!