Sephardic Spice Girls helped me connect with my Jewish roots

Jewish cooking in my family has always been an act of reactivation and reconnection.

My family, although very dedicated to Judaism, has very few Jewish recipes that have been preserved throughout the generations. Growing up, I felt disconnected from Jewish culture. He hadn’t heard of many Jewish dishes and he certainly didn’t know how to make them. I knew that about a quarter of my Jewish roots were Sephardic and the rest Ashkenazi, and that’s all I knew. I didn’t know how to celebrate Jewish holidays, and ultimately I just didn’t celebrate them.

But everything changed when I discovered the Sephardic Spice Girls.

Sharon and Rachel, also known as the Sephardic Spice Girls (@sephardicspicegirls), they are a duo of chefs who have an Instagram account with the same name. They publish the recipes of their families from Morocco, Iraq and Rhodes, sharing traditional Sephardic dishes, as well as their own versions of non-Jewish dishes like strawberry shortcake, curry, etc.

For me, the highlight of your page is the traditional Sephardic recipes.

Linda Sendowski kezadas: Sephardic cheese and rice patties. (credit: YAKIR LEVY)

I discovered his tale after following numerous accounts of Jewish culture and history in an attempt to learn more about my mysterious Sephardic heritage. Then, Instagram included his account in my recommended feed, predicting that he would be interested in learning about Sephardic culture through cooking.

Instagram was right. Considering my love of cooking and my desire to respectfully reconnect with my distant Sephardic roots, I gladly chose a recipe from the Sephardic Spice Girls and took a leap.

The result was the best cake I have ever eaten. I made his Abe Abraham apple pie and it was fantastic. Although it is not strictly a traditional Sephardic dish, it did introduce me to their world. I did it quickly for the second time.

Since then I have looked for the opportunity to make one of his recipes. For Rosh Hashanah 2020, I made their Seville orange chicken and suddenly had a new passion: Jewish cooking.

Over the next year, I sampled countless dishes from his blog. Although every dish I have prepared with their recipes has been incredible, here are my favorites:


These are the best tea cookies, often made with the flavors of cinnamon, orange juice, and anise extract. They are sweet, but not too sweet, and for those who were not raised in Sephardic culture, they are the perfect transition to experience Sephardic joy.

Biscuits date back to Spain, before the Inquisition, so they are shared by all Sephardic communities. Today, they are mainly served during Jewish holidays or celebrations, and offer a great opportunity to subtly connect with Sephardic traditions or even educate others about them.

For me, biscuits have served a very important purpose in reconnecting me with my Sephardic heritage because they are a universal Sephardic dessert. It can be difficult to connect when you are unsure where your family was calling before arriving in the United States. Although I have a pretty good idea, I’ll never know which countries they actually identified with or if they identified with any of them. The universality of cupcakes helps me feel connected to my ancestors with respect, without making false assumptions.


For those unfamiliar with boi, they are a thinly rolled dough with cheese and spinach inside that originated in the former Ottoman Empire. The Sephardic Spice Girls recipe for boyos is wonderful: although they are quite simple in concept, they are very tasty and a fantastic comfort food (especially if you love feta cheese like I do!).

However, for me, the importance of making booos extends beyond the taste. Besides the delicious taste, I find them empowering to cook. With each fold of the dough, I connect with my Jewish ancestors; Knowing that I may never know the names of many of them, I find comfort in participating in traditions that they may have made as well. In a sense, it’s my way of telling you that you will never be completely forgotten.

Abe Abraham Apple Pie

Seriously, this cake is amazing. You can pair it with a fall-inspired frosting if you’d like, but the cake is so delicious, it’s not necessary. Although the ingredient list is pretty simple, the recipe is one of my all-time favorites. And interestingly, I’m not usually a big fan of the apple and cinnamon combination. This cake, however, has converted me. The fall feeling that comes from the apples and cinnamon is so comforting and delicious that I intend to make it again for Thanksgiving.

Thanks to Sharon and Rachel’s vast collection of recipes, I have discovered a way to respectfully connect with my Sephardic heritage, which I have struggled to do correctly, considering it is not something I grew up with. However, cooking has not only inspired me to learn more about Sephardic culture and connect with it, it has also taught me to connect with Jewish holidays. Every time a new Jewish holiday arrives, now I know exactly how to celebrate: by opening Instagram and trying a new recipe from Sharon and Rachel. More than ever before, I have felt Jewish. And I have the Sephardic Spice Girls to thank.

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