Purim – the celebration of Esther and Mordechai’s triumph over wicked Haman – is filled with amazing traditions. On Purim night, we rejoice through recounting Esther’s story and through drinking, wearing masks, and partying. We also give back to our community – by giving mishloach manot (gifts of food) to friends and donating to charity. Here is a number of suggestions as to how you can celebrate Purim in a sustainable, fun, and festive way!
The Whole Megillah. Hazon’s staffer, David Rendsburg, adds a kick to his Megillah reading, by chanting in the voice of the different characters. If you’re reading Megillah this year, make sure to practice your most evil Haman sneers and huffiest Ahasuerus demands.
Start your Pesach parsley. Purim is the perfect time to plant parsley to eat at your seder. The best part is, you can do it even in the tiniest apartment kitchen! Here are all the tips and tricks you need to plant your own parsley.
Pamper yourself. Treat yourself like royalty this Purim. Go to an eco-spa, or shake away winter blues with a Bikram Yoga class. If you’re feeling crafty, make yourself a natural facial mask at home (Purim is all about masks, after all!). Learn how to make a homemade banana face mask.
Throw a Purim Banquet. Invite your family and friends back to your palace after the Megillah reading for a fabulous Purim feast. King Ahasuerus was probably not into potlucks, but you can be. Ask each friend to bring a dish, decorate your living room with tapestries, pillows, and candles and party like it’s ancient Persia.
Make a “Green” Mask. There are many great ways that you can incorporate “green” learning into your Purim carnival activities. A fun, useful, and easy idea to use whether you are having a carnival or not, is to use recycled materials to make masks for this holiday! If you have enough people, or if it is at a carnival, you could even have a contest of who uses the most creative recycled material for their mask!
Sambusak B’Tawah (Iraqi Chicken (or Tofu) Turnovers
Recipe originally from The Jew and The Carrot
This recipe is an adaptation of Gilda Angel’s Sambuska B’tawah recipe.
- 1 can (16 oz) chickpeas, drained
- 2 large onions, peeled and chopped into small pieces
- 1-2 red peppers, seeded and chopped into small pieces according to taste
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon powdered garlic
- Juice of a lemon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups cooked chicken finely diced/For vegetarians, 1 package firm tofu drained and finely diced
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil plus oil for frying
Mash chickpeas coarsely in food mill or with a fork and set aside
Sauté onions and peppers in ¼ cup oil. Add tumeric, cumin, salt pepper, and garlic. When translucent and softened add chicken or tofu and heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir in chickpeas and eggs. Cook and stir for several more minutes until the mixture is dry and a deep yellow. Mix in lemon juice. Set aside.
To prepare dough, combine flour, water, salt and 1/3 cup oil. Knead dough until smooth. Let it rest for half an hour. Pinch off walnut size balls of dough. Flatten and roll out into thin round disks. Put a spoonful of filling into center of each disk and fold over. Pinch around the edges. Continue until all the dough is made into turnovers.
In large skillet, pour oil to a depth of ½ inch and heat. When hot, fry several Sambusaks at a time, until golden brown on both sides. Remove and drain on paper bags. Fry remaining Sambusaks adding oil when necessary.
Vegan Whole-Wheat Hamantaschen Dough
Recipe originally from The Jew and the Carrot
Makes 32-40 hamantaschen
- 2 cups whole-wheat flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup margarine or vegan buttery sticks
- 1 1/2 cups raw brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 cup apple juice or water
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together on medium speed. Add additional apple juice or water if necessary to smooth out cookie dough.
Bring dough together with damp hands. Divide dough into 4 quarters, sprinkle with flour, and wrap each in plastic wrap and chill overnight in the fridge.
When ready remove wrapped portion one at a time and roll between 2 sheets of floured wax paper, or on a well-floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough from the center out into a large circle, about 1/4“ thick.
Cut out circles with a floured cookie cut or with rim of a drinking glass. Using a floured spatula lift the circles and place them on parchment paper lined baking sheets.
Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon of filling into the center of each circle. Fold over the edges to form three corners.
Arrange the Hamantaschen on the baking trays about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375F for 16-18 minutes.
Recipe originally from The Jew and the Carrot
- 1½ cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon saffron
- 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
- ¼ cup rose water
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup canola oil
- slivered pistachios and/or almonds
To make the syrup, bring water and sugar to a boil in a 4-quart saucepan. When sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat; add saffron, cardamom, and rose water. Stir and set aside. 2) In another 4-quart saucepan, toast flour over high heat for no more than 3 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to avoid burning. Watch carefully; as soon as the flour becomes light brown, reduce heat to medium and add oil. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. 3) Add syrup and mix rapidly. Almost immediately bright yellow dough, similar to play dough, will form. 4) To serve, flatten dough into a shallow round platter and garnish with slivered pistachios and almonds, or cut into shapes and garnish.
It is important to mix the dough very well. If too many flour lumps remain, process in the pot with an immersion hand blender until a thick paste is achieved. To serve, flatten dough into a shallow platter and garnish with slivered pistachios and almonds. Since this dough is very pliable, my children enjoy helping me shape halvah with cookie cutters in a myriad of shapes and sizes. Look at the stars in the picture!
Yield: 9 inch round halvah
SUSTAINABLE SNACKS & SPIRITS
Ditch the dry hamentashen.Crumbly, store-bought hamentashen stuffed with artificially-flavored jelly are a crime against Purim! Fight back by baking your own. Experiment with substituting whole wheat flour and agave nectar in the dough, and think outside the traditional fillings box. Pick up some local jams at the farmers’ market, or make your own apricot jam. Try pinching a dab of Nutella or a dollop of maple-sweetened Mascarpone cheese in the center of your cookies. Your belly will thank you.
Go savory. Who says hamentashen have to be sweet? This year, nix the sugar in the dough, and fill each “cookie” with a mix of sauteed onions, mushrooms and Gruyere cheese, or crubmled feta and spinach – or try making Pizzatashen!
Edible Groggers. Serve crispy, crunchy, NOISY foods this Purim (try things like: fresh veggies and yogurt-dill dip, blue corn chips and salsa or home made pita chips with your favorite store-bought or home made hummus). As guests snack away, their crunches will let Haman know what a wicked, wicked man he really was.
Can the canned fruit! You may want to buy fruit for your hamentashen filling, but try your best to avoid fruit from a can! Buy your fruit for your hamentashen in glass jars, or use fresh fruit. Cans (and most plastics) are lined with a chemical called Bisphenol-A (BPA) which is an endocrine disruptor, and a chemical that all should try their best to avoid. Learn more about Bisphenol-A from Grassroots Environmental Education.
Sustainable drinks. Don’t forget to drink sustainably this Purim. Pick an organic wine from our kosher, organic wine list. For some celebratory Whiskey for Purim, check out the Koval Distillery in Chicago for organic spirits. Or mix your drinks using freshly-squeezed juices (orange, grapefruit, carrot/ginger, wheat grass – it’s up to you!), natural sodas, Ginger Brew, or even homemade seltzer. And if you’re going alcohol-free, these delicious mixers taste just as great on their own.
SUSTAINABLE MISHLOACH MANOT
One of the sweetest traditions of Purim is the giving of mishloach manot, gifts of food, to family and friends. Traditionally, one is required to give at least two items of food (one of which should be prepared) to at least two people. But there’s no reason reason to stop there! Here are some tips for adding sustainable flair to your mishloach manot:
Write it Down. Including a note with your wishes for a sweet Purim in your mishloach manot basket is always a nice touch.
Sweeten the pot. Equal Exchange sells fair trade treats (chocolate, coffee, and more) for your mishloach manot basket through their Interfaith Program. Or, try one of our recommended sustainable, kosher chocolates from the Hazon Food Guide.
Brew Peace. Through the Thanksgiving Coffee Co., you can purchase fair trade coffee for your mishloach manot, grown by a collective of Ugandan Jewish, Muslim, and Christian coffee farmers.
Add some color. Tuck in a few beautiful, locally-grown apples, beets, carrots, or other root vegetables in your mishloach manot basket, right next to the hamentashen. Spring is right around the corner, so now is the best time to celebrate the winter harvest, one last time.
Purim offers two additional opportunities to give: Mechazit Hashekel (literally “giving half a coin”) and Mataonot La’Evyonim (giving gifts to the poor). Fulfill these mitzvot with a contemporary twist.
Donate Your Time. Commit to volunteer at your local synagogue or JCC – or prepare food for an Emergency Food Provider. Find opportunities to voluneer at VolunteerMatch.
Suggestions from Fair Trade Judaica:
- Bake your hamentashen with fair trade certified sugar, vanilla, etc.
- Give fair trade certified kosher chocolates, dried fruit and nuts in your mishloach manot
- Deliver your mishloach manot in fair trade baskets
My Jewish Learning - Purim 101
More Jew & the Carrot articles Relating to Purim