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  • Sibel Cuniman Pinto

Albondigas de Prasa (Leek Meatballs)

Turkish Sephardi cuisine relies mostly on bright, colorful flavors of vegetables. Vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, leeks, artichokes, okra, and celery are the central ingredients of our cooking. Using seasonal ingredients are also very important.

Rosh Hashanah holiday is the perfect time for a fresh start. Food is a spiritual center piece of our holiday tables, and sharing it with family and friends is a great way of socializing. Among the foods we prepare are leek meatballs, koftikas/albondigas de prasa,, which you will find below. We also eat fish (served whole with its head) as a starter, and apple jam for dessert along with pomegranates. Their seeds represent the plenty that we hope for in the New Year. Enjoy!

This issue’s recipe is kindly provided by Sibel Cuniman Pinto, a gourmet chef and writer, specializing in Sephardi and Mediterranean cuisines. Born in Istanbul, she studied at the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris and today divides her time between there and Istanbul. She is the author of an award-winning book, The Evolution of the Sephardic Cuisine in Turkey: Five Centuries of Survival; a columnist in Shalom(, the only Jewish newspaper in Turkey; and owner of Sibel Pinto Catering which promotes Judeo-Spanish cuisine. Recently, she has also been working on an international food waste project. For further information, please visit her at

Koftikas de prasa:

2 kg leeks 2 medium sized potatoes 250 gr ground meat (beef)

3 eggs Flour

Salt Freshly ground pepper Vegetable oil for frying

1) Peel and wash leeks well to remove sand. Cut them crosswise and place in large bowl of cold water. Change water if necessary. Drain well.

2) Place leeks and potatoes in a deep saucepan with water. Cover and boil until tender, 30-40 minutes. Drain. Mash the potatoes. Wait until leaks are cool enough to handle, then take handfuls of cooked leeks and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

3) In large bowl, mix leeks, mashed potatoes, ground meat, 1 egg, salt, and pepper. Form into patties/meatballs.

4) Roll the meatballs first into flour, then into the beaten eggs (2 eggs). Fry in hot oil until golden on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot or warm.


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