Cuajado (glossary)

CUAJADO (“kwä-ZHÄ-thō”)

Cuajado translates as either ‘coagulated’ or ‘having curds’ and describes any number of savory baked dishes made from a combination of mild, fresh curd cheese such as cottage or farmer, plus additional cheeses with varying degrees of saltiness, lots of eggs, a little matza meal for binding and copious amounts of one fresh, watery vegetable or another – spinach, zucchini, eggplant, leek or tomato.  Some recipes use bread as a binder and others mashed potato, depending on the vegetable used and your particular tradition or preference.  The texture is soft but not mushy, something like a savory bread pudding with the emphasis not on bread but on grated, shredded or mashed vegetables.  The cheese is used in a way that imparts flavor without dominating the texture.

Closely related to cuajado is fritada (fri-TÄ-tha), which translates as “a fried thing.”  It is no more than cuajado made on top of the stove in a skillet.  Fritada is very similar to Spanish tortilla (and Italian frittata) but unique in its inclusion of cheese.  It is the cheese, I believe, that marks these egg dishes as Jewish food; during the Inquisition, cuajado and fritada were already long considered as such and preparing or eating either one – especially if eaten on a Saturday – could have gotten you tossed into prison. 

Cuajado and fritada are indeed very typical Sephardic dishes for the Sabbath; they can be made ahead of time and taste best not hot but warm or at room temperature.

Cuajado is not to be confused with cuajada, which is a rennet custard traditionally made from ewe’s milk.

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