I like hamantashen and certainly have eaten my fill of the tender, cakey treats. Don’t get me wrong. They are delicious and fun to make. But, they are safe and not at all sexy. So, this year, I want some excitement on Purim. I think I am just tired of winter, the economy and bad news. Time for FUN! Get out your martini shakers, graggers and whatever else you need to put on a splashy and delicious Purim feast. For dessert, I recommend you pull out those nice hamantashen or do like the Persians and serve dried fruit, nuts and fresh citrus.

All of the recipes can be prepped ahead of time, leaving you lots of time to get your Esther or Mordechai on. Have a Freylich Purim!

Blood Orange Martini

1 ½ ounces vodka

 2 ounces blood orange juice

½ ounce simple syrup

 Squeeze of fresh lime juice

  1. Shake together and serve. Garnish with blood orange slices and pomegranate seeds

Persian Meatballs (Kufteh)

This is a great dish for the end of winter. Serve this for Purim as a first course or as part of a Purim feast! Traditionally, the meatballs would not be browned before being poached. As a chef, I think the caramelized crust on the meatballs is essential and gives a great texture and more pronounced flavor. You can opt to do it either way.

2 cups cooked basmati rice

1 cup cooked yellow split peas

1 pound ground chicken, turkey or beef

½ cup finely-chopped fresh dill

½ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1 cup chopped scallions

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 large red onions, peeled and chopped

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin seed

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground cardamom

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix the ingredients together until well combined. Do not over mix as the mixture will be too tight and tough. Salt and pepper the mixture (I like to take a small amount and fry it to taste if the seasoning is correct).
  2.  Lightly shape the meat balls with your hands. (I find that wetting my hands with cold water and using a rolling motion keeps them from getting too packed and tight.) At this point, you can store the meatballs by covering in the refrigerator for 2 days or freeze them for a month.
  3. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Lightly coat the pan with olive oil. Brown the meatballs in batches. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.

For the poaching liquid

1 16-oz can of canned tomatoes with their juices

2 cups of chicken stock

1 teaspoon saffron threads

Juice and zest of 1 orange

Juice and zest 1 lemon

Salt and pepper

Bring the poaching liquid ingredients to simmer in a large saucepan. Place the meatballs in the pan. Gently poach them until cooked through. Do not stir the pan as the meatballs will break apart.

 Basmati Rice

This is a show-stopper for any buffet or dinner. The crispy crust on the rice tastes a little bit like popcorn. It is easy to make ahead and can be reheated in the pan in a low oven.

  2 quarts water

  2 tablespoons salt

  1 1/2 cups Basmati rice

  3 tablespoons olive oil

  1. In a large saucepan, bring water with salt to a boil. Add rice and boil 10 minutes. In a colander, drain rice and rinse under warm water.

Place a 3-quart sauce pan over medium heat. Coat the bottom with olive oil. Spoon rice into the pan, cover pan with a kitchen towel and a heavy lid. Fold edges of towel up over lid and cook rice over moderately-low heat until a golden brown crust forms, about 30 to 35 minutes. Invert the pan onto a serving platter. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and blood orange sections.

Laura Frankel is an Executive Chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering and author of numerous kosher cookbooks including Jewish Cooking for All Seasons and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes. To purchase her books, click here.
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