My mother’s cooking was famous in our community. Some of her recipes even appear in a cookbook called The Jewish Cookbook from Hamburg, by Gabriela Fenyes, Barbara Guggenheim and Judith Landshut. Her speciality dishes, which most community members reminisce about till today, are her Haroset for Passover, and Shefteh. Shefteh is more or less the Urmian equivalent of the famous Jewish-Iranian chicken-balls Gondi. Most Urmians make it with burghul, but my mother’s recipe was with rice. At the request of some of our friends — here it is:
1 kg chicken or turkey breast meat (or half breast and half leg meat)
100 g chicken or turkey fat
1 cup rice
3 medium size onions
Salt, pepper, hot paprika, turmeric
Wash the rice and soak it in water overnight to soften it. Cut all the ingredients, except one onion, into small pieces and grind it in a meat mincer twice (a food processor also works). Knead the whole mixture. Form balls and put in the refrigerator until the soup is ready. Fill a pot with water, add turmeric and one onion, and let it come to boil. Put the Shefteh balls in. Lower the ﬂame and cook for 50–60 minutes.
And here is the other favorite recipe that we still prepare: Margrit’s Haroset for Passover, a traditional Tabriz/Urmia recipe:
Wash and grind 1⁄2 kg walnuts (shelled) and 1⁄2 kg raisins twice in a meat mincer (a food processor also works).
Iranian raisins are very juicy. In Israel and in other countries where the raisins are drier, we add an apple to add moisture and balance the sweetness.