Features on StarChefs.com

Passover 2006



By Sharon Shaked

Every spring millions of Jews throughout the world gather to celebrate Passover in remembrance of their ancestors’ exodus from Egypt over 3,000 years ago. Traditionally the Passover meal - known as the “Seder” - is prepared in the home and consists of recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation. »more

Recipes from Chef Roberto Santibañez of Rosa Mexicano
» Chambaretes de Borrego
» Tropical Harroset
» Green Bean Casserole with Achiote
» Róbalo al Limón
» Tamal de Coco
» Passover Dessert Pears


But a new trend is emerging among American Jews who prefer to dine out during this week-long holiday. On Passover, Jews are not supposed to eat “Chametz,” leavened bread or anything made from the five major grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt) that have not been completely cooked within eighteen minutes after coming into contact with water. This new trend of dining out for the Passover Seder - seen mostly among reformed Jewish communities - spurred many upscale restaurants throughout the country to create innovative Passover-inspired dishes prepared without "chametz."

Every spring for the past four years Chef Roberto Santibañez of Rosa Mexicano in New York City has offered his patrons dishes that reflect the traditions of Mexican Passover seders. He bases the menu on the dishes popular among the roughly 50,000 Jews currently living in Mexico – mainly in Mexico City, Guadalajara, Cancun and Tijuana. The aromas emanating from Chef Santibañez’s kitchen are no longer that of Eastern European dishes like gefilte fish and matzoh ball soup, but rather scents of spicy Mexican cinnamon, invigorating cilantro, sweet mangos, and spicy habanero chili peppers. Central to Chef Santibañez’s Seder menu is Chambaretes deBorrego, a traditional Mexican lamb dish that uses the native guajillo chili to slowly braise the meat. These smooth-skinned, brick-or cranberry-red chilies are a little spicier than anchos, and not nearly as sweet.

Chef Roberto Santibañez will offer his Mexican-inspired Tropical Harroset at each of the five Rosa Mexicano locations from April 13th-15th. A Mexican Passover cooking demonstration will be offered at the Union Square and Washington, D.C. locations on April 15th.


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   Published: March 2006