It’s a brisk Tuesday morning in Rego Park, Queens, home to the country’s largest community of Jews from Central Asia, known as Bukharian Jews. Men and women hustle toward the subway on Queens Boulevard, the main thoroughfare of this residential neighborhood, or emerge from the sprawling Rego Center mall, laden with shopping bags. With its flurry of activity, the scene feels distinctly like New York City. And yet, a few blocks away in Elana Mammon’s kitchen, the aromas filling the air—softening onions mixed with the heady scent of yeast dough, garlic, and fresh herbs—are entirely Old World.
- 4teaspoons dry yeast
- ¼cup plus a pinch of sugar
- 1 ½cups warm water (110 degrees)
- 1tablespoon salt
- 2tablespoons honey
- ⅓cup vegetable oil, plus 4 cups for frying
- 6cups all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for dusting
- 2tablespoons olive oil
- 1large yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 3medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Yield: Makes approximately 40 turnovers
- Step 1
In a large bowl mix together the yeast, a pinch of sugar and water; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add remaining sugar and salt, followed by the honey, 1/3 cup vegetable oil and eggs, mixing well to combine.
- Step 2
Add 5 cups of flour to the wet mixture and gently stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together but is still quite wet. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface; knead while slowly incorporating as much of the remaining flour as necessary to make a supple, elastic dough, 8-10 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a dishtowel and let rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.
NOTE: For a sweet, sufganiyot-like variation, omit the potato filling and fill the turnovers with jam preserves before frying.
- Step 1
Meanwhile, make the filling: Heat olive oil in a 3-quart saucepan set over medium-low heat. Add onion and let cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add potatoes and 1 cup water, raise heat to medium and allow to come to a low boil. Lower heat, cover, and let potatoes simmer until very soft, 20-25 minutes.
- Step 2
Remove pan from heat. With a potato masher or a sturdy fork, mash into a smooth paste, then stir in salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.
- Step 3
Assemble perashki: Gently deflate dough and transfer to a floured work surface. Pinch off a 1-inch piece of dough, roll into a ball, then roll out into a 4-inch-diameter circle with a rolling pin. Mound approximately 1 tablespoon of filling into the center. Fold one edge over to the other and pinch edges firmly, making a half moon-shaped pocket of dough. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
- Step 4
Heat remaining 4 cups vegetable oil in a large cast iron pan set over medium-low heat. Fry perashki in batches, flipping once, until puffed and deep golden brown, 4-5 minutes total. If air bubbles form during frying, deflate them with the tip of a knife. Transfer perashki to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Serve warm alongside tamat (see next recipe).