Kosher food has brought huge demand during the ongoing Hanukkah festival in the international market and the festive season overlapping with school holidays. The milestone peace pact between the UAE and Israel has maintained the ceremonial Kosher food industry as the key participants discover it pleasantly contesting to maintain up with the growing business.
Elli Kriel of Elli’s Kosher Kitchen, which is the first Kosher kitchen in the UAE, said: “The Abraham Accord has extended up the market and carried in a new tourist feature; a new country is coming here. Similarly, you have Kosher or Jewish travelers from around the world feeling confident to visit the place. The other thing is that the normalization in links overlaps with the Hannukah period and the Hannukah festival also falls during the school holidays. So there is an upsurge in travel because of that. Accordingly, we have seen a huge demand for Kosher food in public and I would say almost 100 percent gain in the first week when the normalization occurred. The demand is extremely high now,” added the Orthodox Union certified food supplier in the UAE.
The self-proclaimed foodie declared how food acts as an indication of cultural uniqueness and cooking inter-generational conventional recipes shaped between diverse women, is a way of maintaining that character. Resembling the Jewish festival that began on December 10 to India’s festival of lights, Elli told: “Hanukkah is almost like Diwali. We light a candle each day for the entire duration of the festival, which is for eight days.”
The story of Hanukkah goes like this: When the Jewish people reclaimed the temple in Jerusalem from King Antiochus and his corps, they could only find sufficient oil in the temple to ignite the menorah for one day but managed to light it for eight days there. Merging the dots and demonstrating the link between the oil in the lamp and the ‘fried foods’, Elli counted: “So, our creators gave us the light and the sustenance to keep us going. During Hanukkah – as a result of the significance of ‘oil’ – what we do is we like to eat fried foods. We have something called sufganiyot, the jam doughnut which is deep-fried in oil, filled with jam or custard, and then topped with icing sugar. So, that’s got the oil connection.”
The other popular food eaten during Hanukkah is latkes, which are fried potato pancakes.“Latkes are grated potatoes made into pancakes. You deep fry them and eat them as a savory item on top or sweet item like apple sauce depending on tradition. If consumed as savory, it can be eaten as a breakfast item served with eggs or with sour cream and salmon. If you go on Instagram around this time of the year, you will see all types of innovations. I also made curried sweet potato latkes, then I made zucchini latkes and the favorite ones are the potato latkes.”Elli said.
Throwing light on the difference between Hanukkah and its ritualistic foods, Elli emphasized how it differs from traditional festivals and meal practices.“In other festivals, you would have a big festive meal and typical foods surrounding it but what is different in Hanukkah is that the food consists of just a couple of items. For those eight days after sunset, you light a candle daily: so if it’s day one you light one candle, if it’s day two, you light two candles, and so on. Once you have done that, you sit down and eat. What you typically do is have fried foods. One may have the sufganiyot for desert or latkes as a starter but there is no spread as such. So, these foods are the comforts but the festival really revolves around the lighting of the candles.”
“We have specific kinds of food but it also depends on what kind of cultural elements one is following in the Jewish tradition. Last time I made a donut and used a zucchini mixed with icing sugar frosting and sprinkled it with caramelized pistachios on top”, added Elli.
After having catered to the high-level panel at the recently ended Gitex 2020, Elli’s Kosher Kitchen is now joining with the Emirati culture, customizing recipes to serve the local palette and developing innovative fusion food.
“The Kosher-Emirati food has been trademarked as ‘Kosherati’ food. I am still developing the recipes with an Emirati friend. We are still writing and sampling the recipes. We are mixing the key ingredients of Emirati foods with traditional Jewish dishes. Thus, I am composing a recipe book for that with items like Balaleet latkes, Chebab Blinis (pancakes folded with rose water and date syrup into the cream cheese), Kugel (cake), Orange Blossom Rugelach (puff pastry) to name a few”, Elli said.