Kishka (or Kasha) is an Ashkenazi Jewish dish consisting of a meat stuffing wrapped inside a pastry skin.
The word “kashke” means “skin” or “covering.”
The original kishka was made by wrapping minced meat around pieces of bread.
What Is A Kishka Recipe?
In most cases, the meat used to stuff these pastries is ground beef.
However, other meats are also commonly found in them, such as chicken, lamb, pork, turkey, duck, and goose.
The filling for the kishkas can be composed of any number of ingredients, including liver, onion, rice, applesauce, raisins, almonds, nuts, cheese, sour cream, eggs, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, paprika, etc.
These tasty treats were originally developed in Eastern Europe during the late 19th century when Jews immigrated there from Russia following the pogroms.
They were brought over to America during World War II as part of Operation Aliyah, a program designed to resettle European Jewry into new homes throughout North America.
During this time, they became very popular among American Jews because of their hearty nature and ease of preparation.
Today, kishkas are still eaten all across the United States and Canada every year on Shavuot, but many people don’t realize that it actually originated in Ukraine.
History of the kishka
It has been said that the first recorded reference to a kishka dates back to 1891, when Rabbi Eliyahu Wolf published his cookbook titled “The Book of Dishes.”
In it, he describes how to prepare a kishka using pork fat instead of oil.
This particular book was written in Yiddish, which explains why the name of the dish is spelled differently than what is usually heard today – Kashka rather than Keshka.
While the two spellings refer to the same thing, the first one is more common.
Another early mention of the kishka comes from the diary of Nathan Margolis, who wrote about preparing it at his parents’ home in New York City after immigrating from Poland in 1924.
At some point between then and now, someone decided to add livers to the mix, turning the kishka into its current form.
But where did the idea come from?
Some say that the tradition started in Eastern Europe, while others believe that it came from Lithuania and Poland.
Regardless of where it began, it eventually spread to Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy, France, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, India, Israel, China, Korea, and Japan.
As far as we know, the only place where the kishka remains unchanged is Ukraine.
There, it is still called a kasha (which literally means “mixture”).
Today, kishkas are prepared just like any other baked goods.
You simply roll out the dough, fill it with your desired filling, wrap it up, and bake it until golden brown.
Some people even prefer to eat them cold!
How Do You Make A Kishka Recipe?
A typical kishka recipe will include some sort of meat filling along with rice, noodles, or other types of starch to bind it all together.
These can be served hot or cold as part of a meal or on their own as appetizers.
There are many different variations of this dish depending on where you live.
In most cases, however, the basic kishka recipe contains ground beef seasoned with onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, and paprika.
This is then mixed with finely chopped celery, carrots, parsley, and green peas.
Lastly, it is rolled into balls and placed on top of a bed of rice, along with some cooked egg yolks for binding it all together.
If you want to take your kishkas up a notch, try adding a few more ingredients like raisins, almonds, pine nuts, dried cranberries, or even olives.
You could also add any other vegetables you have on hand such as spinach, mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, or tomatoes.
Some people prefer to use chicken instead of beef, while others opt for using turkey or lamb.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to flavors!
What Are The Ingredients In A Kishka Recipe?
A typical kishka recipe calls for beef or lamb, onions, eggs, rice, spices, and herbs.
Some recipes may also include vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, parsnips, and celery root.
There are many different types of kishkas.
Some versions contain only ground meat, while others add onion, egg, and/or vegetable(s).
For example, some people prepare a kishka using fresh goat cheese instead of the traditional combination of chicken fat and lard.
This version is called kishka bechameli.
Another variant uses no spice mix at all.
Instead, they use garlic, cinnamon, saffron, and cumin powder, which gives the kishka its distinctive flavor.
Some cooks prefer to use a special kind of wheat flour known as matzoh meal.
Matzo meal is prepared by milling whole wheat kernels into fine particles, so this is not just regular white flour but rather a very finely milled form of wholemeal flour.
Matzo meal adds extra texture and color to the kishka.
How Long Does It Take To Make A Kishka Recipe?
A typical kishka recipe takes about two hours to prepare.
In addition to making the filling, you will need time for rolling out the dough into thin sheets, spreading the filling on top, and then folding them together before baking your kishkas.
This process can be done ahead of time if you would like to have several recipes ready at once.
However, there is more involved than just the actual preparation.
- First, you must choose which fillings you want to use.
- Some common ones include chicken, beef, lamb, pork, veal, turkey, duck, venison, fish, eggs, cheese, sauerkraut, cottage cheese, and even fruit such as applesauce, raisins, or prunes.
- Second, you will also need to decide how many kishkas you would like to make.
- This depends mostly upon how much space you have available in your oven.
- If you only plan on making one kishka per person, you should probably go with a smaller batch size so they cook faster.
- On the other hand, if you plan to serve multiple people, you might need to increase the amount of kishkas being prepared.
- Finally, you will need to choose what kind of dough to use.
- You can either roll out each sheet individually or work with larger sections of dough.
- Rolled out individual sheets help keep the kishka shape while larger sections are easier to handle when working with different fillings.
Choosing Your Filling
There are plenty of options when choosing a kishka filling.
For instance, some prefer using ground meats while others opt for finely diced vegetables.
There are also variations based on regional preferences where certain regions may add additional items such as applesauce, raisins, prunes, or nuts.
Most importantly, however, you should always remember to include a good dose of salt.
Salt helps tenderize the meat, adds flavor, and prevents any potential bacterial growth during cooking.
What Is The History Of The Kishka Recipe?
It has been speculated that the origin of this dish can be traced back as far as 12th century Constantinople.
However, there are no records confirming its existence before the 18th century.
In 1735, Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog published his book “Kitvei Shabes LeYisrael” which included a recipe for making the kishka called “Maklach.”
This recipe was written in Hebrew and consisted of stuffing ground beef into sheets of dough similar to a pie crust, but instead of being baked, they were fried.
In Eastern Europe, Jews began using wheat flour rather than unleavened bread to prepare their food.
Wheat became more widely accepted after the 16th century as a result of the Spanish Inquisition, which forced many European Jews to convert to Catholicism.
As a result, these converted Jews brought new cooking techniques along with them when they moved to Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Germany, Austria, etc.
These new recipes combined traditional Eastern European ingredients such as onion and garlic with Western European ones such as meat and eggs.
By the 19th century, kishkas had become so popular among Polish Jews that they started selling them at fairs and markets throughout the country.
They were also sold from carts on market streets where people could buy them while walking through town.
During World War II, most of the Jewish population living in Warsaw were rounded up by the Nazis and sent to concentration camps.
When the war ended, the survivors returned home to discover that almost all of their neighbors had fled the city during the war because of the threat posed by Nazi rule.
In order to help restore some semblance of normalcy to the area, the Rebbe, Chief Rabbi of Poland issued a decree stating that every household should have one kishka per family member each week.
Because of this, a large number of kishka makers opened shop across the city and set about creating different types of fillings for the kishka.
After the war, many families still kept kosher, and therefore continued eating kishka.
But since they didn’t know how to cook the kishka properly, they would ask other members of the community who knew how to do it to make them a batch every once in awhile until they learned enough themselves.
Where Did The Kishka Recipe Come From?
According to tradition, kishkas were invented during the Middle Ages in central Europe as part of the Ashkenazic Jewish community.
However, there are several versions of how the first kishkas came about.
One story says they developed when Jews fleeing persecution fled to Poland where people used the leftover bits of bread after making matzah balls for Passover.
Another version claims it originated from a Turkish Jew who lived in Germany, and he had leftover scraps of meat left over from his Sabbath meal.
Regardless of which story you believe, all agree on one thing – this particular Jewish food item has been passed down through generations since its invention.
It wasn’t until the early 1900s that kishkas became more widely known outside of eastern European countries like Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, and Lithuania.
In America, kishkas didn’t become common until the 1960s.
And now, nearly every major city in North America has at least one restaurant specializing in kishkas.
Today, you can find kishkas on menus everywhere from delis to upscale restaurants.
You can even buy them online if you live out of town!
But why do Americans love this traditional Ashkenazi Jewish delicacy so much?
Who Created The Kishka Recipe?
The origins of the kishka are unclear but it has been documented as far back as 11th century Persia.
This makes sense because kishkas were originally eaten during Passover celebrations among Jews who had just fled their homeland after being oppressed under Muslim rule for centuries.
Today, kishkas are most often served at festive occasions like weddings, bar mitzvahs, graduations, and Purim.
One thing you might notice when looking up recipes online is that many kishka recipes call for beef instead of chicken.
In fact, it is common practice for some kishka recipes to use both poultry and beef.
While this may seem strange since there are no kosher laws preventing mixing different types of meats together, this does not mean they have to be combined.
As long as one kind of meat is used on its own, the other can remain separate.
In addition, while all kushkes include onion, garlic, parsley, and sometimes cumin seeds, each region seems to add its own twist to the recipe.
For example, a Jerusalemi keshke uses dried mint leaves rather than fresh ones, whereas the Ashkenazi version adds raisins.
There is also disagreement over how to prepare the filling ingredients.
Some people say that the kishka should only contain ground beef, others insist that it must consist of finely diced, mixed meat.
Still others think that the kishka shouldn’t be cooked before baking.
As a result, finding the right kishka recipe could take weeks of research and experimentation.
Fortunately, we took care of the hard work for you! Here are three ways to make your very own homemade kishka.
What Is The Traditional Way To Make A Kishka Recipe?
Traditional kishkas are usually made using a thin sheet of unleavened dough called matzah brie, but many different types of pastries can be used for this purpose.
In addition to being baked, kishkas may also be fried or grilled.
Traditionally, they are served as part of Shabbat dinner, although there are now restaurants specializing in them all over New York City and elsewhere.
Many variations exist depending upon region.
Some include ground beef and other meats like lamb and chicken, while others use only veal and pork.
There are even vegetarian versions that replace the chicken livers with tofu.
Some people prefer not to eat pork or shellfish due to religious reasons, so these ingredients can easily be replaced by poultry products such as turkey, duck, goose, etc., which are often cheaper than their meat counterparts.
Many Jews also choose to avoid certain vegetables like eggplant because they contain bitter substances that would render the dish inedible according to halacha.
While it is traditionally eaten during the Sabbath, you will find kishkas at weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs and other special events throughout the year.
- 1 pound cooked ground meat, preferably chicken or turkey
- 4 ounces finely chopped onion
- 1 cup finely chopped celery
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- About 2 teaspoons yeast dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm water
- Sugar if desired
How to Make a Traditional Kishka Recipe
Start off by mixing together the ground meat, onion, celery, paprika, oregano, cayenne, salt and pepper until well combined.
Next, melt half the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
Add about 3/4 of the flour to create a roux.
Stir constantly until evenly blended and golden brown.
Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the remaining melted butter and the yeast mix along with ½ cup of sugar.
Allow the yeast to sit until frothy, then add 4 cups of flour gradually to form into a ball.
You should have enough flour left over to knead into the dough.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it reaches about 12 inches by 10 inches.
Spread the filling onto the middle third of the dough sheet, leaving about ¾ inch of space between each layer of stuffing.
Fold the bottom two thirds of the dough up over the filling, then fold the top down over both sides of the filling, sealing everything tightly against itself.
Roll out again to seal the edges completely.
Slice the kishka crosswise into 6 equal portions.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the slices on greased cookie sheets and brush with additional melted butter.
Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
If you want to serve your kishkas straight away, take them directly from the oven and let cool before serving.
If you wish to keep them longer, wrap them individually in foil and refrigerate for several days.
To reheat, place in the microwave covered with tin foil.
Microwave for 15 seconds per slice and remove immediately.
What Are Some Modern Twists On The Kishka Recipe?
In addition to the traditional method of making a kishka using minced meat, many people have come up with other ways to create delicious versions of this classic Ashkenazi Jewish food.
Some examples include filling it with ground beef instead of lamb, adding vegetables like zucchini, carrots, potatoes, and spinach, and even replacing the usual bread with matzo meal.
There are also several variations of how to cook a kishka.
Traditionally, the kishka is baked in a hot oven, but if you prefer not to bake your kishkas at home, there are frozen ones available for purchase online as well as restaurants serving them all over New York City.
Traditional ways to make a kishka
- Bread kishka – This version uses wheat flour and is traditionally served during Hanukkah time.
- Matzoh ball kishka – This one features matzoh balls instead of bread.
- It is often used during Passover, when Jews avoid eating leavened products.
- Meatball kishka – This variation can be made with ground turkey, chicken, or lamb.
- It may also contain onion, garlic, parsley, cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, pepper, and saffron.
- Vegetable kishka – Another way to fill a kishka is with vegetables such as zucchini, carrots, potatoes, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, green beans, peas, celery, squash, bell peppers, and more!
- Spinach kishka – This version substitutes spinach for the meat in order to reduce calories and fat content.
- Filled pasta kishka – You can use any kind of pasta including raviolis, penne, shells, rigatoni, farfalle, rotini, etc.
Modern ways to make a kishka
If you want to try something different than what we discussed above, here are some new recipes that will surely impress everyone who eats them:
- Lentil stew kishka – Lentils are a hearty vegetarian protein source.
They add color, texture, and flavor to a kishka without increasing its calorie count.
2. Eggplant koshkes – These are great for vegetarians because they don’t require the consumption of animal proteins.
3. Meatless dumplings – Substitute rice flour with tapioca starch to make these healthier.
4. Baked potato kishka – Add diced sweet potatoes to the stuffing mix along with the standard ingredients.
5. Roasted vegetable kishka – Roasting veggies adds another level of deliciousness to the already flavorful dish.
6. Tofu kishka – If you’re vegan, tofu can replace the meat in this dish.
7. Vegetarian kishka patties – Use a food processor to chop up various vegetables into small bits so that they fit neatly into the stuffing bowl.
8. Greek style kishka – The Greeks have been known to put feta cheese inside their kishka, which makes it more authentic and tasty.
9. Spicy black bean kishka – Instead of ham hocks, substitute black beans for the meat in the kishka recipe.
10. Vegan chocolate chip cookie kishka – In place of the traditional poppy seeds, sprinkle flaxseed flakes on top of each kishka before baking.
How Do You Serve A Kishka Recipe?
You can find kishkas at most Ashkenazi restaurants, as well as many delis throughout New York City.
They are usually served cold, but they also taste great hot when cooked slowly over low heat.
The traditional way to eat them is to tear off a piece of skin, remove the filling, then dip it into soup, sauce, or gravy before eating it.
But these days, people often prepare their own homemade versions of this delicacy.
If you want to make your own kishka, be sure to use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour for the dough because it will rise better.
If you don’t have access to fresh ingredients, you may substitute ground beef, chicken, lamb, pork, turkey, or veal for the meat filling.
You should also add additional seasonings like garlic, onion powder, salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, and/or dried oregano.
Finally, if you’d prefer not to wrap the meat yourself, you could always buy pre-made kishkas from the supermarket.
- 1 Pan
- 2 Spanish onions
- 4 carrots
- 2 cups brisket
- ½ cup beef
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 cups matzo meal
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Onions, carrots, and brisket scraps (if used) should be finely chopped in a food processor.
- Over medium heat, melt evoo or beef, chicken, or both in a sauté pan. Cook the brisket (if using), onions, and carrots until brown, stirring periodically.
- Continue cooking for a further 3 minutes after adding the garlic and paprika.
- Return the mixture to the food processor, scraping off any remaining fat as you go. While the food processor is running, add the matzo meal to the mixture to create a thick dough that stays together when pressed. Including salt and pepper.
- On each parchment sheet, divide the dough in half, then shape two (9-inch) logs from it. Wrap the log in parchment, then twist the ends to seal. Each log is encased in a foil sheet.
- For an hour, roast the kishke. Remove the wrapping and cook for a further 15 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
- Serve as is or include into a cholent.