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A Mizrahi Fish Recipe for Rosh Hashanah

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Fillet of Mizrahi salmon and a slice of challah

Mizrahi Jews, originally from  countries such as Iraq and Iran, have a colorful and unique way of celebrating Jewish holidays with food. I’m delighted to share a special Mizrahi fish recipe that my family enjoys every year on Rosh Hashanah. Many Mizrahi Jews, like my family, welcome the new year with a seder, which literally means “order”. Our table is filled with special foods called simanim, “signs.” These represent good omens for the year ahead, and each siman has its own blessing to go along with it that we recite in a specific order. One of these simanim is the head of a fish along with a fish course for the meal. This represents our wish to be heads, not tails – leaders, not stragglers. For the fish course, I love to make this recipe that my mom taught me. It’s made with fillets – I like to use salmon, placed on a bed of sliced carrots and potatoes, seasoned with a garlic-lemon spice blend and topped with chickpeas and fresh cilantro. We always serve it with a healthy portion of sweet challah – the best part is dipping the challah in the garlicy lemony sauce. This recipe makes the perfect addition to a Rosh Hashanah seder, from my family to yours.



For the fish:

2-3 medium potatoes, sliced thin

2-3 medium carrots, sliced thin

1 can of canned chickpeas, liquids drained

1 bunch of fresh cilantro   

4 fish fillets – tilapia or salmon

Spicy dried peppers (optional) 

For the spice blend:

8-12 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp sweet paprika 

1 tbsp smoked paprika (optional)

1 tsp salt  

¼ cup vegetable or canola oil

Juice of 2-3 medium lemons

¼ tsp pepper  


  1. In a low and wide pot, arrange the potatoes and carrots
  2. Add water so veggies are just covered (you don’t want too much water) and bring to a boil. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, in a small bowl, combine the oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, and spices. Mix well.
  4. Arrange the fillets of fish on top of the cooked veggies in the pot. Cover each fillet with the spice mix and pour the rest of the mix into the pot. Sprinkle the chickpeas on top and add the spicy peppers (if you are using them).
  5. Turn the flame to high and bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, add cilantro and cover. Lower the flame and cook for a few more minutes until fish is ready- about 5 minutes, but depends on the type and thickness of fish.
  6. Serve with a healthy portion of sweet challah.
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