Saturday, September 30, 2006

el corte kipur .... or breaking the fast

while ashkenazi jews tend to break their fast with dairy based foods, this is not necessarily so in the sephardic tradition [though some people may adopt the others' customs]. after drinking something and having pastries [cake] or some cookies perhaps, either savoury or sweet, a meat based meal later often follows.

one of the corte kipur traditions is to make drinks based on seeds or nuts which are considered restorative after many long hours of not eating or drinking. one of these drinks is called pepitada and is what jews with turkish and greek backgrounds prepare a few days before the yom kippur holiday. some people will just drink fresh orange juice or sweetened hot tea in tulip glasses however.

pepitada is made from ground canteloupe or other melon seeds. its taste is remniscent of toasted sesame. it is sweetened with sugar and further perfumed with orange flower or rose waters and served in small glasses.

making pepitada takes some foresight. i begin the process in august when canteloupes abound. of course, any kind of melon seed may be used. i collect, wash and clean the seeds, and let them dry until i have enough. they are stored away safely until a few days before the beginning of the holiday.

and here is how it is made:

pepitada — a ladino "break the fast" restorative

1/2 - 1 cup melon seeds
3 - 4 c water
2 - 3 tsp sugar
orange flower or rose water


these are the seeds after having been washed and dried:

the seeds are placed in a pan on medium heat and stirred until they start to brown slightly and pop. you will hear them crackle. they may jump in the pan!

let them rest until they are cool and proceed to grind them. they smell wonderful after they roast. here is a close up of the seeds:

in a blender or a food processor, grind the seeds finely.

the ground seeds are placed in a muslin bag you tie up extremely tightly. here, i used a tripled new "j-cloth" tied with a string.

after the corners have been carefully collected and tied, you get a little bag [sakito].

place this bag in a glass pitcher and fill with 3 to 4 cups of cold water.

let the bag sit in the water:

leave the bag for an hour and then carefully take it and give it a few squeezes and the water will fast start to change colour and the seeds will exude their "milk".

replace the mixture in the fridge and occasionally give the mixture a squeeze [3 or 4 times]. the next day, wring the bag tightly to exude every last bit of "milk" and discard its contents.

flavour the pepitada with the sugar to taste & the flower water you choose [or don't add if you don't like it].

the finished pepitada. a centuries old tradition.
drink and be restored! l'chaim.


Jean-Michel said...

Thanks for this incredible record of my childhood in a family that was half Sephardic from Rhodes Island! Compliments for your blog, have a nice springtime wherever you are...


burekaboy — said...

hi jean-michel - thank you for your comment and visit. i'm glad the posting meant something (special) to you. these are traditions which are centuries old, many of which evoke special memories or feelings, notably those of our childhoods.

a happy Spring to you also. i'm in canada, btw...