This is part 2 in a new series: College Cooking Crash Course. This series is written by Kyle, a student at Princeton University, and is designed for college students looking to learn the basics of making healthy, cost-effective, and delicious meals. Today, Kyle will be sharing his experience at a Shabbat dinner, and showing you how to make authentic Israeli Hummus, Pita Bread and Schug.
Have you ever had a Shabbat dinner? I got to experience my first Shabbat dinner recently during a 10-day trip to Israel, and it was one of the highlights of my time there.
A quick background on Shabbat: Shabbat is Judaism’s day of rest and celebration that begins at sunset every Friday and ends on Saturday night. A special dinner is prepared on Friday to celebrate Shabbat. Oftentimes, families will invite guests over to share the meal with them. For my first Shabbat dinner, our host family somehow managed to fit 25+ of us in their tiny apartment and make more than enough food for all of us!
We began the dinner by singing two traditional Jewish hymns – Shalom Alichem (“Welcome My Friends”) and Eishet Chayil (“A Woman of Valor”). Our hosts then said a blessing over their three (adorable!) children. Next, our host recited kiddush, a blessing of sanctification over a cup of wine (or, in our case, grape juice). After that, all of us washed our hands before breaking the challah bread and digging into the multi-course meal!
The dinner was a wonderful time of good company, good conversation, and of course, good food. I don’t remember everything we talked about or even ate (especially since I couldn’t take any pictures of the food – the use of electronics is prohibited during Shabbat), but the lively dinner was a much-needed break in the midst of a busy trip. We had spent most of the day (and that whole week) shuffling from tour site to tour site, with only brief stops to grab a bite to eat, so it was a real treat to sit down and just share a meal for a couple of hours.
Participating in the Shabbat dinner also has inspired me to make it a goal next school year to share weekly dinners with my roommates, plus anyone else who wants to join! Things can often get overwhelming at Princeton with endless hours of schoolwork and extracurriculars, but I hope that cooking and eating a big dinner together once a week next year will give me and my friends the opportunity to slow down and just share a few good laughs.
Back to the food itself – a couple of things stood out to me about the Shabbat dinner and Israeli food in general. Hummus, pita bread and schug are everyday foods enjoyed throughout the day.
Hummus is served with every meal – breakfast, lunch, and dinner! It’s also an incredibly versatile dip – it goes great not only with pita bread, but also on salads or even on meats.
Another awesome sauce they serve with most meals is schug – it’s a super spicy spread that adds an incredible kick to any dish.
When I got back home, I knew I had to share a small taste of Israel with the rest of my family and try my hand at making a few of the amazing foods from the Shabbat dinner. It turns out whipping up some great-tasting Hummus, Pita Bread and Schug is easier than I thought!
Making hummus and pita bread does require a bit of patience, but it’s definitely worth the wait. Check out the recipes below for Hummus, Pita Bread and Schug and let me know your thoughts.
Authentic, Israeli hummus! Goes great with pita bread + as a side dish for any meal.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup raw tahini
- 1 lemon (juice of)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin)
- 1 tbsp paprika