Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dining al fresco, the Israeli way

As part of this blog’s occasional focus on what we like to refer to as “kumsitz cuisine”, we present… poikeh.

According to Wikipedia, this exotic dish originally comes from South Africa, but Israelis have long since adopted it as their own.

In order to learn more, we decided to turn to the experts.

First, we consulted noted chef ATIT (ATIT=a typical Israeli teenager), who – as you may recall - graciously shared the recipe for smoked tuna a few months ago:

Our Shiputzim: What is poikeh?

A Typical Israeli Teenager: Poikeh is a stew that has anything you want in it.

OS: How do you make it?

ATIT: You take a pot, and you put water, meat or chicken, rice, vegetables, cola, ketchup, spices and more.

OS: Cola? As in the drink?

ATIT: Yes.

OS: Interesting. And what type of spices do you use?

ATIT: I don’t know. I didn’t see when they put them in.

OS: And then what do you do with the pot?

ATIT: Make a bonfire, and you cook the poikeh for a while.

OS: Who makes poikeh and when?

ATIT: For activities. Different times. For example, my youth group’s Chevrayah Bet (loosely, high school division) made it one night towards the end of the summer. Each girl brought whatever ingredient she happened to have at home, and we put everything in.

OS: What did you bring?

ATIT: I brought potatoes.

OS: So, how did the poikeh taste?

ATIT: I didn’t want to taste it! But other girls said that there was too much ketchup and that it was too charif (spicy)…

Next, we asked AYIC (AYIC=a young Israeli cook) to provide a few more details:

OS: Did you ever make a poikeh?

A Young Israeli Cook: Yes, in camp this summer.

OS: How did you make it?

AYIC: We took a poikeh pot and put in the stuff that people brought – like potatoes, chicken, carrots, cola, spices, water, and a few other things. Then we made a fire and put the pot on top of it. After it cooked for a while, we added rice. At the end, we also added some petitim. And, in the middle, one of the counselors put in a few grapes!

OS: What does a poikeh pot look like?

AYIC: It has three little legs. We used a #3 pot. I don’t know how many liters it holds, but it was pretty big. Some of the older kids used a #6 pot, which is even bigger.

OS: So, how did the poikeh taste?

AYIC: I didn’t eat it so I can’t tell you! But the other people seemed to like it…

Thank you ATIT and AYIC for sharing your culinary knowledge!



  1. Poike comes from the brand name on the cast-iron pot that stews the mess of food together.

    Every shevet has a poike pot and everyone takes a turn being the guardian of the pot. (Its been alongside our house for months...)

    They come is different sizes (1...Hamula sizes)

    All you ever wanted to know (and buy)

    LOL: Word Verification: stoners

  2. Jameel - "Hamula size" - LOL!
    Thanks for all that information. I confess that I only learned about poikeh a few months ago. Apparently, my oleh roots have a habit of showing now and then...

  3. I only know about poike's for 2-3 years...

    (Its also a good bar/bat mitza gift if you join in with a few families)

    [poike's are expensive!]

  4. You have a wonderful blog, with lots of great fun facts.


  5. Jameel - Can you imagine a boy in the States receiving a poikeh pot for his bar mitzvah?! I can just picture an American boy opening his presents and discovering that someone gave him... cookware! :-)

    Melissa - Thanks for your kind words. May you be blessed with a happy, healthy, and sweet new year!

  6. Funny that nobody seems to actually know what this dish tastes like.

  7. Ilana-Davita - Actually, it's not really SUCH a coincidence that the two interviewees share a disinclination to taste poikeh. After all, they happen to be related to each other...

  8. It actually has kind of a caramel taste that the Cola gives it.... reaallly good

  9. Anonymous - Welcome! Thanks for providing a firsthand report about how poikeh tastes. It's also interesting to learn that it's popular in so many other countries...


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