Savor The Exodus: Roasted Lamb From The Sinai Desert

— by Ronit Treatman

The Egyptian Jewish Community has a tradition of serving roasted meat during the Passover Seder.  This is their way of remembering what the Ancient Israelites ate during their wanderings in the Sinai desert after leaving Egypt.  This year, you can emulate the Egyptian Jews and bring this experience to your table by preparing roasted lamb flavored with desert spices.

How can we know what the Ancient Israelites ate in the desert?  The Bedouin have preserved those timeless traditions.  The oases of the Sinai yield edible delicacies such as olives, dates, coffee berries, grapes, wild rosemary, almonds, watermelons, and sugar cane.  From the Bedouin, we learn how to build an earth oven by digging a hole in the ground.

More after the jump.
This type of oven is called a Zaarp.  Pieces of wood, plant roots, or dry camel dung are burned in the hole for a couple of hours until they turn into hot coals.  A freshly slaughtered lamb is placed in a jidda, or large copper pot.  It is seasoned with salt and wild thyme.  The pot is sealed tightly with its lid, and placed in the hole on top of the embers.  A goat’s hair blanket is spread over the zaarp.  A large mound of sand is piled over the blanket to seal the oven.  The lamb is left to cook in this subterranean oven for several hours.  View the clip below to see how the Bedouin open the zaarp, and bring out the roasted lamb.


The celebratory lamb dish prepared by the Bedouin is called Mansaf.  It is made with meat, yogurt, and rice.  “Mansaf” means “explosion, ” as in, “an explosion of food. ”  This lamb is seasoned with a special spice mixture called baharat (Arabic for “spices”).  You may purchase baharat from http://www.amazon.com/Baharat-…  Alternatively, you can mix your own baharat for this recipe.

Baharat
Adapted from Clifford A. Wright

  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons ground allspice

In order to respect the laws of kashrut, I am solely providing the roasted meat portion of the Mansaf recipe to prepare for the Seder.

Mansaf: Bedouin Roasted Lamb
Adapted from Fati’s Recipes

  • 1 (2 lbs.) lamb shoulder
  • 1 tablespoon baharat
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 head of garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Mix the baharat and salt in a bowl.  Rub the lamb with this spice mix.  Make a few incisions in the lamb, and stick the cloves of garlic into them.  Place the lamb in a roasting pan.  Scatter the sprigs of rosemary over it and cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Place in the oven.  Lower the heat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  

Cook the lamb for 4 hours.  

Just before serving, heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a pan.  Sauté the almonds and pine nuts until they turn golden-brown.

Serve the lamb on a platter with almonds and pine nuts sprinkled over it.

To eat like an Ancient Israelite in the Sinai, savor the Bedouin roasted lamb with matza.  When you remove the foil, your home will be filled with the delicious aroma of slow-cooked lamb.  After cooking for so long, the Mansaf will be very tender.  The meat will be infused with the flavor of the baharat, rosemary, and garlic.  The almonds and pine nuts will add a delightful crunch to every bite.  When you taste the Mansaf paired with matza, you will almost be able to hear the music of the desert flutes and drums, and the stories told around the fire. As you enjoy the company of your family and friends this Passover, remember the Bedouin proverb:

“He who shares my bread and salt is not my enemy.”

Burger.org and Chicken.org


Chicken.org
534 South 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
(267)687-7074

Burger.org
326 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
(267)639-3425

Sunday-Thursday: 11AM to 10PM
Friday: 11AM to 4PM (Summer) 10AM to 2PM (Winter)

Online Delivery: www.diningin.com
Website: burgerorg.com

An Embarrassment Of Kosher Riches On South Street

— by Ronit Treatman

Finally, kosher and organic can go on a date!  I was strolling down South Street, when I stumbled upon Burger.org. and Chicken.org.  “Glatt Kosher” was painted in large letters on the windows.  Of course I had to try them both!  I discovered two places where the standard for both kashrut and food quality meet the expectations of a Higher Authority.  

I stepped into the Burger.org restaurant, and was immediately taken by the stylish hardwood floors, granite countertops, and eye popping accent colors.  This place is definitely fun!  The free-range organic meat is imported from Uruguay.  I was impressed with the perfectly cooked to order, juicy lamb burger I had selected, served with a generous portion of French fries.  You can order free-range beef, chicken, and turkey patties.  They also have wild catch fish and vegetarian burgers.  You could go with their selection of sandwiches, hummus, fries, and salads as well. Soon, it will be possible to have the total soda fountain experience.  In about a week, Burger.org will begin serving pareve milk shakes and ice cream.  If for any reason you become disgruntled while dining here, you can have the experience of the electronics customers in the You Don’t Mess With The Zohan movie.  You can cross the street and get your dinner at the competing kosher establishment: Chicken.org.

More after the jump.
Chicken.org is owned by the same gentlemen who brought us Burger.org.  Eyal Aranya and Yoni Nadav were inspired to establish these restaurants because of their love of good food. They have gained two toeholds in Society Hill.  At Chicken.org I sampled Israeli influenced rotisserie chicken and schnitzel.  They were moist and perfectly seasoned.  I was impressed with the colorful, crunchy selection of Middle Eastern salads, freshly prepared on the premises.  Chicken.org is a miniature version of Burger.org.  If there is a large party, and some people want chicken and others prefer burgers, Burger.org will accommodate all the diners.  

Burger.org and Chicken.org are very stringent in their adherence of the laws of kashrut.  They each have an on-site mashgiach, Rabbi Dov A. Brisman.  Their Kosher Certification is from The Community Kashrus of Greater Philadelphia.    For those who have very observant relatives, or would rather let someone else do the cooking, a glatt kosher Rosh Hashanah catering menu will be available shortly.  

As I ate my lamb burger, I looked around the restaurant and took in the atmosphere.  There was a table full of teenagers from USY.  Middle-aged couples were enjoying an evening out on the town.  An attractive young couple may have been out on their first date.  Next time you make plans to go out, you don’t have to choose.  You can find kosher, and organic, and delicious!