This Passover, travel to the East with these Turkish delights

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

I’m always looking for inspiration for Passover meals. While some items on my seder menu are locked in by family tradition, others are inspired by Judaism’s international reach.

After visiting several synagogues and a Jewish museum in Istanbul and learning about the country’s Jewish culture, I’m finding that my Pesach food thoughts are trending toward the tastes and flavors of Turkey. Here are some recipes inspired by dishes I ate in Turkey during my recent trip.

The Zucchini Fritters are adapted from ones I made in a cooking class at a restaurant in the shadow of the Blue Mosque. The Lamb Stew with Tomatoes, Peppers and Dill is a variant of the many stews I was served throughout my visit.

Dill is a traditional seasoning for meat in Turkey. Serve these dishes followed by a typical Turkish dessert — such as slices of fresh fruit.

When I was in Turkey, I was usually presented with slices of oranges, apples and Asian pears.

Zucchini Fritters

Makes 16 fritters

3 cups shredded zucchini

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1⁄2 cup finely chopped onion

4 eggs, beaten

1⁄2 cup matzah meal

1⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper

1⁄2 tsp. dried mint flakes or 2 Tbs. fresh, minced mint

vegetable oil

Toss zucchini with salt. Place in colander, let sit 15 minutes, rinse and squeeze out moisture. Mix zucchini, onion, eggs, matzah meal, pepper and mint. Let batter rest 5 minutes.

Put 2 Tbs. of vegetable oil in large fry pan over medium high heat. Drop 2 Tbs. of batter in the heated oil. Flatten. Repeat. Fry 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towel-covered plate. Repeat, adding oil as needed. Serve warm or at room temperature with lemon wedges or dollops of plain yogurt.

Lamb Stew with Tomatoes, Peppers and Dill

Serves 4

1 lb. eggplant

1⁄2 tsp. salt plus additional if needed  

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

1 lb. boneless lamb stew (1-inch cubes)

2 cups slivered onions

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups red bell pepper pieces, sliced into 1⁄2-inch strips

1⁄2 cup sliced carrots, cut into 1⁄4-inch rounds

2 cups cubed potatoes cut into 1⁄2-inch chunks

1 lb. tomatoes, chopped

1⁄2 tsp. ground black pepper

1⁄2 tsp. hot red pepper (chili) flakes

about 2 cups chicken stock

1 Tbs. plus 1 Tbs. chopped fresh dill

Peel eggplant if desired. Cut into 1-inch cubes, toss with 1⁄2 tsp. of salt. Place in colander. Let sit for half hour. Rinse and drain well. Dry.

Heat oil in deep sauté pan or large pot over medium high heat. Brown lamb chunks. Remove from pan and set aside. Add onions and sauté until golden. Add garlic and sauté for one minute. Add eggplant, red pepper strips and carrots. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add potatoes, tomatoes, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Mix well. Add lamb pieces with any juices. Add stock until ingredients are submerged about 3⁄4 of the way. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

Cover, lower heat and simmer for about 1 hour (until lamb chunks are very tender, time may vary), stirring occasionally and adding additional stock if necessary. Remove cover, stir in 1 Tbs. of dill. Cook for about 25 minutes until stew is thickened and meat is extremely tender. Taste and mix in salt if needed. Sprinkle with remaining dill.

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs her food at Contact her at [email protected].

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is Contact her at [email protected].