Yerushalmi Kugel is a great Jewish favorite, and a real showcase in Israeli synagogues at Kiddush time: I have seen two burly men flip an enormous pot of Yerushalmi Kugel onto a gigantic counter, then slice it across its whole diameter in two or three places with a knife about three feet long (promise!), then cut through the whole stack of disks from top to bottom, in hundreds of cubes. It reminded me of Gulliver’s travels. I remember thinking, what a pity it’s Shabbos and we can’t take pictures of this phenomenon! Then after I watched all the hard work, and inhaled the wonderful whiffs that filled the room, I watched it disappear in minutes, barely getting the time to get a piece of the wonderful stuff for myself.
The trademark of Yerushalmi kugel is the caramelized sugar-oil mixture (high maintenance: first hurdle), then combining that mixture with the other ingredients (a real nuisance, as the hot sugar-oil mixture seizes and hardens, and resists combining with the rest of the ingredients: second hurdle). I tried with caramelizing the sugar in water, which is the usual way of making caramel and then combining the caramel with the remaining ingredients, and found it much easier to make the dish this way, and every bit as delicious.
- 1 pound thin noodles, any noodles (gluten-free will work too!)
- ⅔ cup vegetable oil
- Salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper, or a little more to taste
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar or Sucanat
- 1/4 cup agave syrup
- 1/2 cup water
Preheat oven to 350°F. Boil the noodles until just barely tender. If you started with long noodles, cut through the whole pile with scissors until you get smaller pieces. Place in a mixing bowl, and mix in the oil, pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, and eggs. Combine thoroughly. Meanwhile, heat the sugar, agave and water in a small saucepan. Reduce the flame to low and cook about 5 minutes, until the mixture turns a nice amber color (watch the cooking, don’t let the mixture burn). Immediately add to the noodle mixture and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a greased 9 x 13-inch pan or a greased tube pan. Bake about 1 hour, or a little longer, until the top looks set. Delicious warm or at room temperature.