It’s that time of year when the masks come on, the groggers get going and the mishloach manot baskets get stuffed with other treats. Purim is finally here and the festivities are under way—baking parties, Megillah readings, masquerade balls—but one thing you may want to add to this year’s celebrations is a dinner, or even a Shabbat, of hidden foods. Hamantashen are the traditional Purim treat, but there are many other “costumed” foods, in the spirit of Purim.
Stuffed foods appear in almost every cuisine: there are Asian dumplings, Indian samosas, Argentinean empanadas and, of course, Jewish favorites like kreplach, knishes and kubbeh.
Start your meal off with some fried fare: Iraqi Kibbeh Batata, fried potato patties that hide a ground beef filling (they can even be made with matzah meal to be enjoyed next month during Passover). Fill them with vegetables for the vegetarians at the table, or take another page out of the Passover book and go for Mushroom-Stuffed Matzah Ball Fritters.
Basic rice isn’t quite so basic when it’s shaped and stuffed. Japanese onigiri are triangular rice balls filled with anything from a basic miso or tuna salad to more elaborate fillings like tempura veggies, pickled plum, smoked salmon and fried eggs. Then it gets wrapped in nori (seaweed). The combo can be used as a “costume” for any filling you desire, so get creative! Or go for the Mediterranean version of onigiri with dolmas or stuffed grape leaves. Seasoned rice is rolled inside tender grape leaves and best enjoyed with some homemade hummus.
If you still have room after all those appetizers, serve up broth and let people choose from a variety of dumplings to enjoy. For the vegetarians, make these steamed wontons filled with tofu, cabbage and fresh herbs. Buy pre-made wonton wrappers to keep things simple and steam them in advance. Then just have guests drop them into hot broth to warm back up.
For a Jewish twist, try Potato Kugel Dumplings, which swap the tofu and cabbage for potatoes and lots of butter. Fry them up and serve with a dipping sauce or in your favorite veggie broth.
For a totally different kind of dumpling, go for Israeli Marak Kubbeh Adom, which pairs a vibrant red beet broth with meat-filled semolina dumplings. (Pro tip: You can make and freeze the dumplings in advance and cook them directly in the hot beet broth.)
By now, you’re definitely just as stuffed as your dinner menu, but you can’t hide dessert from your guests. Hamantashen are a must at any Purim dinner or Shabbat, but try an alternative filling like Gingerbread Apple Pie instead of the classic poppy seed or apricot.
Or go for wholesome date-filled Kaak Ma’amoul (“filled cookies” in Arabic). With no added sugars or dairy these are the perfect sweet treat to end any type of meal.
To go the dairy route, make blintzes (sure, they’re laborious, but any leftovers can be served for brunch the next day!) or Puerto Rican Quesitos, which turn just five ingredients into sweet magic. Plus, they can be made while everyone is clearing the table and getting out their groggers for the Megillah reading.
Round up your best Esthers, mingle with some Mordechais and maybe holler at some Hamans this Purim. Gather friends and family for a feast that’s dressed up, too!