A Bread Tradition Carried 1,500 Miles to Israel
Shared by Rinat Tzadok
Recipe Roots: Yemen > Hadera, Israel > Tel Aviv
When we spoke to Rinat Tzadok this month, she paused for a moment to pull a fresh loaf of babka from the oven. We were tempted by the talk of babka naturally, but not surprised. As the creative director of Lehamim Bakery in Tel Aviv, she is one of the most avid and gifted bakers we know. Breads and sweet doughs of all sorts are kneaded into her Yemenite, Moroccan, and Israeli identity.
Growing up in Hadera, a town halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa on Israel’s coast, Rinat’s mother blended those identities cooking Moroccan dishes like fish simmered in a spicy sauce and golden turmeric chicken from her family. She also learned recipes like zom, or warm yogurt soup, and sabaya, a multi-layered cake of sorts with crispy edges, that Rinat’s father’s family carried with them when they made their way from Yemen to Israel by foot in 1949.
It wasn’t just Rinat’s father’s family who taught her mother to cook Yemeni cuisine and bake its many accompanying breads, it was the women who lived near them, who made kubaneh, jachnun, and sabaya for meals at the synagogue, particularly on Simchat Torah, she says.
Today in her home in Tel Aviv, Rinat makes the cake, which verges on a layered flat bread, periodically on Shabbat mornings. Served with grated tomato, Yemen’s hot sauce schug, and eggs, or with honey and smoky clarified butter samna, the dish does double duty, flirting equally well with sweet accompaniments as it does savory ones. Either way, it’s a showstopper at any hour.