A Purim Food Primer with Menus and Recipes

Chocolate Frangipane Hamantaschen
Chocolate Frangipane Hamantaschen. © Miri Rotkovitz

The Jewish festival of Purim celebrates Jewish survival. The biblical book of Esther, which tells the story of how Esther saved the Jews of Persia from annihilation at the hands of the wicked Haman, is read. The holiday is also celebrated with costumes, parades, plays, carnivals, matanot l'evyonim (the giving of charity), mishloach manot (giving food baskets to family and friends), special pastries, and a festive meal.

Purim is a fun-filled Jewish holiday for both children and adults.

The Purim Meal (Seudat Purim)

It is traditional to have a Purim Seudah (feast) on Purim day. And it is customary to serve food at the Purim meal that has symbolic meaning that links to the Purim story.

Triangular Treats
For Ashkenazi Jews, perhaps the most widely held food tradition is eating triangular-shaped foods such as kreplach and hamantashen pastries.  One of the most popular explanations for the tradition is that these foods represent Haman's three-cornered hat. But there are lots of other, lesser known explanations about what these foods represent, and how they came to be associated with Purim. 

Talking Turkey 
It is written that King Ahasuerus reigned from India to Ethiopia. In Hebrew, the word hodu means both "India" and "turkey." Thus, some people eat turkey on Purim. Others eat Ethiopian dishes such as Ethiopian lentils.

Here are some recipe suggestions, should you wish to incorporate turkey or lentils into your holiday feast:

    Going Vegetarian

    Queen Esther is said to have eaten a vegetarian diet in order to keep kosher while living in King Achashverosh's Palace. In her honor, many people serve a meatless meal for their Purim feast. Along those lines, commentators explained that Esther's diet consisted of nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes. This is one explanation behind the custom to eat poppy seeds during the holiday, which turn up most iconically in Ashkenazi hamantaschen as mohn filling. 

    A Persian Purim Seudah Menu: 

    This menu makes a nod to the megillah's setting in ancient Persia with recipes inspired by the country's delicious cuisine. You'll find traditional dishes like Ashe Reshteh (Legume and Noodle Soup) and Tah-Dig, along with modern takes on Persian flavors, in recipes like Avocado and Pomegranate Salad with Cumin Lime Vinaigrette, and a roast chicken with saffron and citrus

    MENU: Vegetarian Purim Menu:

    To wish someone a happy Purim, say Purim Samayach!

    Edited by Miri Rotkovitz