Press Releases

JDC Offers a Central Asian Twist For Passover

How Is This Borscht Different From Any Other Borscht?

For Immediate Release

If you thought traditional Passover borscht — with its dulcet taste, velvety texture and hypnotic purple hue — was all about the beets, think again. Some Jews like theirs without any beets at all. Valeria Khaimov-Levistky of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan uses sorrel — the leafy herb — to give a verdant color to the special soup she makes for Passover. It’s a recipe she learned from her mother-in-law, Batsheva Khaimov, some eight years ago and has been a staple of their Passover seders ever since. This recipe is one of three from Jews in the Central Asian Republics offered this year by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) through its annual Passover app.

In addition to the sorrel borscht, you can sample mazurka, a popular walnut-raisin pastry from a Jewish family in Uzbekistan, and chicken kotletky, a poultry patty entrée from Kazakhstan. These online recipes — which can be shared across Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms — also include short bios of the Jewish women who submitted them from their homes in some of the remotest Jewish communities in the world.

JDC sponsors hundreds of community seders worldwide — with the bulk in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union — as well as countries in Latin America and in India. JDC also distributes matzah, holiday packages, and gifts to the scores of poor and elderly in its care. The group also conducts Passover-related workshops, cooking classes, and street festivals.

Now celebrating its 100th year, JDC remains the essential Jewish international humanitarian organization, putting into action the precept that all Jews are responsible for one another and for all humankind. The organization’s ten decades of rescue, poverty alleviation, Jewish community development, leadership training and cultivation, social innovation, and disaster relief work has benefitted millions of people and transformed countless lives in Israel and more than 90 countries (at its peak) since JDC's founding in 1914 at the outset of WW1.

Green Borscht with Matzah for Pesach

Ingredients:

  • Meat (chicken) — 2 lbs.
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 medium size onions
  • 4 large potatoes
  • 3 eggs
  • Sorrel - 1 bunch
  • Green Coriander (cilantro) - 1 bunch
  • Black pepper (ground) - 1/4 of tea spoon
  • Salt, to taste
  • Matzah - 5 to 10 pieces

Cooking instructions:

  1. Cut meat (chicken) and potatoes into cubes.
  2. Chop onions finely.
  3. Cut coriander.
  4. Cut sorrel.
  5. Beat eggs (whites and yolks together).
  6. In a cauldron heat the oil, then put into the hot oil chopped onions and meat, fry until slightly goldish.
  7. Add 8 and a half cups of water, bring to boiling and boil for 30 minutes.
  8. Add potatoes and boil for another 5 minutes.
  9. Add sorrel, salt to taste and boil until potatoes are done.
  10. Add beaten eggs into the boiling soup while stirring thoroughly, then add coriander and turn off the heat.
  11. Serve with Matzah broken into small pieces.

Mazurka Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 lbs of walnuts
  • 1 lbs of black raisins
  • 7 tbsp of butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup of cinnamon
  • 2 cups of matzah flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

Cooking instructions:

  1. In a bowl, combine butter, eggs, sugar, and cinnamon and mix with a mixer. Then add matzah flour and baking soda and mix.
  2. Chop the nuts into bits and combine with black raisins.
  3. Add nuts and raisins to dough and mix well.
  4. Butter a baking pan and put the dough in it.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  6. Let the cake cool before cutting. Dust with powdered sugar.

Born in 1933 in Ukraine, Alla Krichevskaya was evacuated to Tashkent, Uzbekistan with her family when World War II began and remained in the city once the war ended.

Alla, 80, has been a client of Tashkent’s JDC-supported Hesed social welfare center since 2001 and is an active participant in the center’s events — especially culinary competitions, which she always wins.

This recipe — for Mazurka, a kosher-for-Passover cake — comes from Alla’s mother.

Though she didn’t know much about Jewish traditions and holidays before she joined the Hesed, Alla now attends its lectures on the history of the Jewish people.

Passover has now become one of Alla’s favorite holidays, she said.

Chicken Kotletky (“A La Migdal”)

Ingredients:

  • About 1 lb Kosher chicken breast
  • 1 lb Onion per pound of chicken
  • 2 tablespoons of potato starch
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste

Cooking instructions:

  1. Cut the chicken into very thin strips, then add finely chopped onion to the mix.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix starch, egg, mayo, salt and pepper, and then whip.
  3. Combine the mixture with chicken to make patties (kotletky).
  4. Cook the patties on an oiled frying pan until golden brown.

Svetlana Nezhinskaya is an active member of the JDC-supported Hesed social welfare center in Almaty, Kazakhstan and leader of its literature club.

Her recipe was brought by Svetlana from Israel more than 10 years ago and immediately became popular among her family members and the Almaty Jewish community.

Passover is very important to Svetlana; her mother was very religious, and she remembers cleaning the house and disposing of chametz each year.

Her favorite part of the holiday is the Seder, when the family comes together to celebrate and remember the history of the Jewish people.

“For me, Pesach symbolizes freedom,” Svetlana says. “And freedom is everything.”

About JDC

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. JDC works in more than 70 countries and in Israel to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and provide immediate relief and long-term development support for victims of natural and man-made disasters.

For more information, please visit www.JDC.org.

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