This Community Recipe is Idan’s Vegan Zaatar Challah. Challah is an iconic Jewish food. This rich, fluffy loaf is a regular part of the Shabbat meal. Idan’s recipe offers us a winning vegan version, flavored with the intense, punchy and earthy taste of Zaatar.
Community Recipes is a recurring feature where we share your vegan recipes on the Jewish Food Hero blog. If you want to share a recipe in this series, pitch us your idea here. This series is all about sharing healthy plant-based and vegan recipes. We are creating a positive community around food and sharing.
All about Idan Chabasov
Idan is a passionate and talented Challah baker He’s in his thirties and was born in Tel Aviv. However, he’s been living in Berlin since 2014, and for the past 5 years he’s been baking Challah every Friday. Click here to see photos of his beautiful Challah
While he was still living in Tel Aviv, Idan loved the sun and the beach. Surprisingly, he had never even baked! Since moving to Berlin, Idan’s oven is his substitute sun. His oven reminds him of Israel, especially when there is a pair of Challahs inside (because you never bake just one Challah).
Idan is single and has lots of time to dedicate to his Challah, and sometimes for reading as well. He enjoys short stories from Franz Kafka and watching YouTube baking videos for hours. Meditation helps Idan to stay connected to himself and to his inner child. He finds this keeps him flowing creatively in the kitchen, feeling relaxed, excited and happy.
When it comes to ״real״ food, for Idan, nothing compares to Israeli street food. His favorites include classics like Falafel and Sabich, a real pleasure with tahini on top and a variety of salads on the side. When in Berlin, he loves to eat a good pizza.
Making a familiar recipe without needing to follow instructions feels relaxing to Idan. If it’s a new recipe with step by step instructions, he can feel the excitement for the first time. Nevertheless, in both cases, his heart beats a little faster when it goes into the oven and a little before it comes out!
Idan’s favorite cookbooks
When it comes to bread, Idan turns to New World Sourdough by Bryan Ford.
But for everything else, it has to be Israeli food with So schmeckt Israel (That way Israel tastes like) by Tom Franz.
Ultimate Instagrammable Challah
In the past six months, Idan has been managing his own Instagram account @challahprince. (Take a look at his feed and I’m sure you will agree that is a fitting name!) His Instagram centers around the Jewish Shabbat’s main star – The Challah bread! So, through his account Idan would like to join the baking community, initiate collaborations and share the knowledge and the love for his favorite Carb.
Idan shares a lot of insight and tips, so be sure to follow his account. Get ready for inspiration for your own Challah creations too!
Key ingredient: Zaatar
Zaatar is a Middle Eastern spice blend with intense flavor. Actually, the precise recipe varies depending on where you are. Nevertheless, generally it includes a combination of dried oregano and thyme or marjoram, with acidic tasting sumac and the nutty flavor of sesame seeds. Zaatar is a delicious seasoning for meats and vegetables. Sprinkle on top of hummus for extra zing. As you will see in Idan’s recipe, zaatar and bread is a simple and outstanding combination – perfectly good as a standalone dish!
Mix all the flour, sugar, salt and yeast together in a bowl. If using fresh yeast, activate it first in a small bowl with a bit of lukewarm water and 2 Tsp of the sugar from the recipe.
Add the oil. Use one hand to slowly start to pour water into the bowl. With the other hand, mix the mixture each time water is added. Mix slowly, paying attention to how the dough is coming together.
Once all the ingredients have been incorporated, knead the dough with two hands. Continue to add water until the dough is smooth, elastic but not sticky. (The amount of water needed can vary slightly depending on the flour.)
Transfer the dough to the work surface and continue to knead for next 10-15 min.
The dough is ready to rise when it’s flexible, soft and can be stretched.
Form the dough into a ball and leave it to rest in the bowl. Cover it gently with saran wrap and a kitchen towel. Allow to rise for around 1.5 hours, or until double in size.
Remove the dough from the bowl and knead/press it very shortly to take all the air out. The dough should be elastic and easy to play with.
Your dough is ready for braiding. Divide into equal balls (around 120-220g each). Shape each ball into a strand – thick in the middle and thin at the edges gives a more puffy look. Braid the strands together to create your Challah loaf (see hints on @challahprince)
Gently place your Challah dough on a baking tray to rest for 30min – one hour, until double in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 °c.
Bake the Challah for around 25-30 until golden brown all around.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wash the Challah with one or more coats of olive oil for a shiny look.
Generously sprinkle Zaatar on top of your finished Challah – there’s no such thing as too much Zaatar!
Best Braiding Techniques
How is your Challah braiding technique? Do you get a beautiful raised loaf with even woven strands? Or does it look a little lopsided? Idan has millions of tips and techniques to share via his Instagram and Facebook – including a guide to a whopping 7 strand braid!
Vegan Challah Inspiration
Traditionally, challah is made from a dough enriched with eggs and oil. These days, many people are choosing to reduce or omit animal products from their diets. Challah is a great recipe to vegan-ize – regardless of whether you include animal products in other parts of your diet. That is because it is straightforward to achieve an outstanding tasting Challah without animal products. Idan’s recipe omits eggs and does not substitute them – you won’t miss them! Here are a couple more Jewish Food Hero favorite Challah recipes:
Joan’s Vegan Challah Recipe – This was one of the original Jewish Food Hero Community Recipes which inspired this whole series! Joan’s recipe has been overwhelmingly popular among our community. It is fluffy, rich tasting and delicious – and vegan!
Vegan Challah with Two Surprising Ingredients – What do you think if I tell you this bread contains potato? Alongside coconut milk, these two special ingredients give the Challah a satisfying moist, rich crumb. There is a subtle sweetness too. I created this recipe by mistake during a 5am recipe development session, and I haven’t looked back! This recipe is also oil-free!
Sometimes we all need a little inspiration to mix up our regular recipe rotation. Our Community Recipes feature is for just that – to share our favorites and hear from a variety of people in our community. Don’t forget to get in touch to share your vegan recipe too!