The Jew And The Carrot

Foods of Freedom: Egyptian Leek Mina

By Elizabeth Alpern

  • Print
  • Share Share
Adam Esrig

After the bitter herbs, charoset, salt water and the symbolism that goes along with them, the Passover seder can easily slip into a festive meal containing minimal meaning, save for the deliciousness of this year’s soup versus last year’s. Though our Passover entrees are often filled with significance, as foods of family tradition and memories of Passovers past, main dishes during the seder should not be overlooked as an opportunity to infuse a holiday meal with meaning. This year we have chosen recipes from two nations, which in the last two decades have found new freedom — Egypt and South Africa. We hope that these dishes spark lively conversation about the path to modern freedom around the Passover table.

At the start of 2011 the world watched as the Egyptian people overthrew longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak. It is not often that we can so easily honor the Haggadah’s instruction that “In every generation one must look upon himself as if he personally has come out of Egypt.”

The Jewish community of Egypt dates back to the time of the prophet Jeremiah (587 B.C.E.) and has a long and storied presence in the country. By the sixteenth century it consisted of Arabic-speaking, North African and Spanish Jewish immigrants. Today, that community has all but disappeared, but the Jewish connection with Egypt lives on through historical ties, the Haggadah and of course, food.

Mina (also spelled mayeena and meena) is a Sephardic matzo casserole commonly found on the Egyptian Jewish seder table. Derived conceptually from a layered pastry, mina can be served as a side dish or a main course, made to be meat or dairy, and is often stuffed with green vegetables such as leeks or spinach, symbolic of spring and new beginnings.

This recipe for mina comes from Emilie de Vidas Levy’s “Sephardic Cookery,” taught to the author’s mother in Egypt.

As we eat mina during Passover this year, let us honor and be inspired by the newly found freedom of modern day Egyptians.

This recipe and other creative thoughts on how to enrich your seder will appear in the Forward’s first Haggadah supplement in this week’s issue.

Leek Mina for Passover (Mina de Carne con Prassa)

Adapted from “Sephardic Cookery: Traditional Recipes for a Joyful Table,” by Emilie de Vidas Levy

Serves 8

8 matzo squares
2 pounds chopped beef, lightly browned
2 mashed potatoes
leeks, 5-6 stalks
6 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
oil for greasing pan
water for soaking matzo

1) Soak matzo squares in water until soft. Drain on paper towels and reserve. Trim leaks, cut into ringlets and wash thoroughly, using the white part and some of the green if fresh. Boil leeks for 14 minutes and drain.

2) Keep liquid for soup. Mix leeks with browned, chopped meat. Add mashed potatoes and salt. Beat 5 eggs and add to meat mixture.

3) Grease 12x9x2 inch baking pan with oil, or use a casserole dish, 8 inches in diameter. Cover the pan with half of the matzo squares. Spread the meat mixture over them and cover with a layer of the rest of the matzo. Beat remaining egg and pour over the top.

4) Bake in moderate oven at 375 degrees for one hour.

Variation: You may omit leeks and substitute 2 chopped onions and ½ cup chopped parsley which are added to the meat. Bake as above.

Re-printed with permission from Irma Lopes Cardozo of the Women’s Division of the Central Sephardic Jewish Community of America.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sephardic, Passover, Mubarak, Mina, Freedom, Egypt

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.