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Publication: Jewish Exponent
Date published:
Language: English
PMID: 59080
ISSN: 00216437
Journal code: JWEX


According to tradition, when Queen Esther of Purim fame was moved into the king's palace, she became a vegetarian. In order to avoid eating non-kosher food, she confined her diet to nutrient-rich seeds, nuts and legumes.

So on the festive day of Purim, many Jewish communities observe the custom of including beans, chickpeas, nuts and poppy seeds (pereg) in Purim menus and sweets, especially those exchanged in mishloach manot, the sending of gifts of food to one's neighbors and friends.

Poppy seed - mohn in Yiddish - has become the seed most closely connected to Purim. Tradition tells us that the wicked Haman wore a tricornered hat. Each year on Purim, we echo this form with the triangular-shaped filled cookies, called hamantashen, which actually means "Hainan's pockets"! This undoubtedly refers to the fact that hamantashen traditionally filled with a mohn (poppy seed) mixture.


But poppy seeds are too good to be relegated to once-a-year usage. Their sweet, slightly anise flavor adds depth to many recipes from soup (well, almost) to nuts.

Buy them freshly ground or grind them yourselves in a coffee mill. If you prefer, you can also buy ready-made, sweetened filling for cakes and pastries.


Traditionally served over fruit salad.

1 cup canola oil

cup sugar (or less)

1 tsp. dry mustard

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

cup finely chopped scallions

2 Tbsps. poppy seeds

Blend all the ingrethents except for the poppy seeds for one minute. Add the seeds. Store in the refrigerator in a lidded jar or cruet. Shake well before serving.


4 to 4 cups flour

3 tsps. baking powder

cup sugar

grated rind of 1 lemon

tsp. salt

4 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup oil

Sift the dry ingrethents into a bowl. Make a well in the dry ingrethents and beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in oil. Mix well and form into a ball. Knead lightly for a minute or two or until smooth. Chill to ease roiling out.

Preheat oven to 375.

Roll out dough 1/8-inch thick. Cut into 3-inch rounds. Put a teaspoon of filling (recipe below) in the center, draw up two sides and then the third across. Pinch edges together to form a three-cornered pocket.

Bake on a greased or parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Makes about 4 dozen.


cup sugar

1 Tbsp. honey

cup water

1 cup ground poppy seed

2 Tbsps. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. grated lemon peel

cup golden raisins

Place sugar, honey and water in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, over medium heat for a few minutes until sugar dissolves.

Add poppy seeds to saucepan. Cook, stirring for one minute.


Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice, lemon peel and raisins.

Chill for at least 2 hours. Mixture should not be liquid: add more poppy seed or fine cookie crumbs, if needed.

Place a small "ball" of filling inside each circle. Bake as directed.


3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 tsps. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cups vegetable oil

1 cups milk or soy milk

3 eggs

tsp. almond extract

1 Tbsps. poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.

Stir flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together.

In another bowl, whisk oil, milk, eggs and extract till smooth.

Add the dry ingredients, mixing minimally until moist. Stir in the poppy seeds. Fill muffin tins 2/3 full and bake 30 minutes.


Middle Europe is the origin for this old-fashioned treat.

8 oz. wide egg noodles


1 tsp. salt

4 Tbsps. ground poppy seed

4 Tbsps. butter

3 Tbsps. sugar

Cook noodles in salted boiling water according to package directions. Drain well and stir in poppy seeds and butter (butter will melt).

Spoon immediately onto serving plates and sprinkle with sugar.


3 cups all-purpose flour

3 tsps. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

cup ground poppy seed

cup sugar

cup margarine or butter

2 eggs

1 tsp. grated lemon zest

1 1/3 cups milk or soy milk

Preheat oven to 350.

Stir the flour, baking powder and salt together. Stir in the poppy seed.

Beat the sugar, margarine and eggs together in a separate bowl. Stir in the lemon zesf and milk. Add this mixture to the flour and stir only until ingrethents are mixed.

Place on a parchment-paper lined (or well-greased) 9x5x3-inch bread pan. Bake for 1 to 1 hours until the tea bread tests done. Turn onto a wire rack and cool well before slicing.

Author affiliation:

Rivka Tat is a former Minnesotan who has lived in Jerusalem for the past 45 years. She is a food writer and translator. Email her at: talriv@gmaiLcom.

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