MINA (“MI-nä”) is an Ottoman Sephardic savory pie made from ground beef, onion and spring herbs, bound with eggs and sandwiched between layers of matza (moistened, of course).  In my experience it is a specialty of Rhodes, where it is a star of the Passover repertoire.  However, it is nearly identical to Algerian Sephardic méguena in all except its use of matza, which the Algerian recipe dispenses with altogether in the versions I am familiar with. (Algeria was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1536 to 1830 and had a substantial Jewish community).

There are vegetable minas as well; however, mina is not simply another kind of cuajado.  A true mina contains no cheese, and eggs serve to bind the filling without dominating its appearance or texture. 

As with mustachudos, mina offers another fine example of how symbolism is incorporated into Sephardic recipes, in this case repeating elements of the Seder plate: parsley and eggs to represent springtime and renewal and matza, of course, the unleavened bread of the Exodus that is eaten throughout the week-long holiday.  Mina is served cut in large squares, which bring to my mind the bricks of the Egyptian pyramids – in shape only, as a well-made mina is delicate, moist and intoxicatingly delicious!



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Filed under Glossary, Holidays (fiestas judias)

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