Foods of the Rhodeslis

The cuisine of the Jews of Rhodes naturally included those foods that were native to the region around the island. Living among the Greeks and Turks therefore included foods such as yaprakes (dolmathes), kiftes, baklava and sootlach.

What is interesting is that the large number of Sephardic refugees from Spain also brought with them many of the foods from Spain. A number of these Spanish “comidas” (foods) included: biscochus, pastelicus, pandericas and mazipan.

Below is a ceramic plate that is decorated with the popular design featuring the deer, which is the symbol of Rhodes.


Sephardic traditions have been passed on with the interaction of parents and grandparents to the younger generations. In this photo “Papoo” Ted is teaching his grandchildren, Rachelle and Daniel how to form burekas.


January 10, 2010:  “Folares” freshly made for Purim by the Howard Franco family in New York:

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16 Responses to “Food”

  1. March 3rd, 2014

    ariel shalomo:

    Vorrei sapere qualcosa di più sugli Ebrei di Rodi,perchè sto facendo una ricerca sugli Ebrei calabresi e ho visto che ci sono tante cose in comune. Sono un professore calabrese che vive e lavora a Catania. Shalom

  2. March 23rd, 2012

    Sarah Kline-Roege:

    Came upon your site….wondering about visiting this Sabbath, though we may not make it in time due to the weather. We at present live in Yakima, originally from Los Angeles, CA. I am bringing my mother Allegra Kline to the city for her 85th birthday. Her mother’s family is from Rhodes. Her mother’s name was Catherine Huniu and her mother’s name was Sarota (Sarah) PILOSOF she was married to Behor Myer HUNIU (son of Abraham HUNIU and Flora SHEMARIA) in Rhodes, Italy. Sarota’s parent’s names were Gabriel PILOSOF and Caden Linda Tamar.

  3. March 6th, 2012

    Robyn Israel:

    I loved seeing all of the recipes and would really like some input on how to make sutlach with rice flour…my grandma used to make it and stir it over the stove for so long (she’d often have me do the stirring with her favortie wooden spoon) Then once it was done she would put it into small glass bowls and sprinkle cinnamon it it before putting it in the fridge where it would develop a thick skin on top and a creamy inside. I’ve tried over and over…always turns out lumpy or no matter how long I stir it never gets thick enough and often tastes like burnt milk.

    cheese pinwheels: I looked at the recipe and its missing something! What makes it into a pinwheel. My grandma used to make the pinwheels out of leftover boreka dough, although we loved them so much she’d have to start making a batch for us. She would roll out the dough flat, then with a pastry brush, brush egg on the dough then sprinkle parmesean cheese on it..she’d run her hands over the flat dough and parmesean to make sure it was evenly distributed. Then she’d roll the dough into a “log” and begin cutting 1/4 inch slices from one end to the other. the end pieces she always let me eat raw. Then once she had the slices she would press them flat into her hands brush egg on the tops and then dip it in parmesean. I have found that Kraft Parmesean is the only cheese that will not turn brown in the oven. She would also rotate the pinwheels halfway through cooking (not sure why, but I always do this too)

    +++BTW if making cheese pinwheels as a large batch my grandma used to seperate the batch into four balls put into a metal bowl and cover with a “camazu” (towel) each ball should roll out and make one log to then cut into individual pinwheels

  4. November 4th, 2011

    Robert Carlson:

    I love all of these recipes. My grandmother just made boyos for a reunion with her sephardi cousins. I think I am going to make some BUREKAS this weekend.

    I enjoyed seeing all these familiar recipes (boyos, kiftes, baklava, burekas, folares, marzipan, biskochos, sootlach, halavah and more!) Thanks Aron!!

  5. August 31st, 2011

    Stella HANAN Cohen:

    Dearest Rhodeslis, I am the daughter of Sam HANAN, of blessed memory, a cousin of David and Lea BEHAR. How great to see a comment from Peggy Touriel, also a cousin of my mother Marie CAPOUYA HANAN who still lives in Zimbabwe, niece of Sarina Rousseau. And finally Savatore ALHADEFF! All of you after so long. Would love to be in touch about to publish a book at Stellas Sephardic Table,
    With warm wishes to you all, please stay connected.

  6. April 3rd, 2011

    Barry Israel Feiss:

    What are the ingredients of kiftes, baklava and sootlach.
    And what is the origin and meaning of the name: Estrea.
    Does any one have any knowledge of my family?
    Fiss.( Orvadio and Esther were my grandparents)

  7. February 27th, 2011


    This site is truly unique in that it helps resurrect the memories of ‘los muestros antepasados’ in a very original ,contemporary way.
    My roots on both my mother’s and father’s sides go back nearly exclusively to Rhodes,for generations and generations,with the exception of my maternal grandmother’s ancestors who originated from Alexandria and Istambul.
    On the one hand,I have my Mom,being the daughter of B. Alhadeff,the great grand daughter of Itzhak Amato as well as the grandaughter of Yacov and Estrella Alhadeff ,on the other,my late Dad,son of the Reverend Haham Yoseph Hai Franco and Rachel Capuya(the Behora of her sisters)….
    Reading about our Rhodeslie traditions and witnessing how those traditions have survived the test of time as well as the obstacles encountered during the emigratory phases by the young Rhodes Island young men and ladies on their journeys to the Congo,to Rhodesia,to the US,to Argentina,to improve their quality of life ,but without ever forgetting their loyalty to the ISOLA DELLE ROSE,deserves all the admiration from so many other communities as well as cultures.
    The greatest beauty is that,sofar, Rhodesli family values have lasted up till my generation and have permeated my personnality even though I grew up mainly in Italy and Belgium prior to coming to the US,but…in all sincerity,I am extremely concearned whether the coming generations are going to be able or are going to be willing of keeping this rich heritage,a unique amalgam of historical cultural backgrounds,alive for their posterity.
    I am proud of my Iberian Sephardic origins,of the historical Ottoman influence intermingled with Judaism in Rhodes,without even mentioning the refinement the ITALIAN KINGDOM (Il Regno d’Italia)or the hellenistic joie de vivre, brought in different contexts and historical phases to enrich the customs of our forefathers
    As far as the Ladino language is concearned, I was fortunate and blessed to be able to learn and speak fluently while growing up.
    Long live Rhodes and the memories of our Forefathers who planted the seeds of who we are today and hopefully,who our children will be tomorrow.

  8. September 24th, 2010

    Marsha Williams:

    I belong to Cong Or Ve Shalom in Atlanta and had the honor of working with the ladies in the kitchen and learning to make many of the Rhodeslis foods. The ladies put together a wonderful cook book “The Sephardic Cooks” with so many of the recipes. It’s is one of my favorites and I have used it to introduce many Ashkenazi friends to burekas, boyos, quajados, keftes, etc. This is a wonderful site.

  9. August 14th, 2010

    renee touriel:

    hello Ted….just looking at your page and remembering my father and your father who were good friends…best wishes…renee touriel, daughter of Eli Touriel.

  10. July 5th, 2010

    Lea Capelluto:

    Outstanding work!!!! I am so delighted to have this link on my “favorites” and I am sure I am going to spend lots and lots of time looking at it as more than half of my family and friends live in Cape Town!!!, mentioning some of them : cousins Moise, Marc Albeldas and families, Jacques Franco, Bello Israel and families specially my aunt Susan Franco (may she live 120 years in good health), Maurice and Lucie Soriano, Dr. Jacques Hasson (family), Claudine and Albert Franco and fam., Jojo Mallel and fam., aunt Sara Jerusalmi, Maurice Danon, Marc Dosetos, Samy Angel, Elsie Menashe and many many others! I die to visit all of them! I live in Cancun, Mexico and if my family and friends from Cape Town happen to come one day here to visit, I’ll be glad to receive them !con los brazos abiertos! Good Luck and Congratulation for your marvelous enterprise!!

  11. June 24th, 2010

    Peggy Tourial:

    My grandmother Sarina Capouya Rousso used to make all of these for us. I am the great grandaughter of Rabbi Jacob (Yacov) Capouya. It really is wonderful to see all of these great traditions through this website.

  12. May 29th, 2010


    Very interesting the “folares”, my mother and grand mother used to prepare them every year if I remember around Easter .. The family “hold” as we say in Rhodian dialect, from the Paza, Picene, Roussos, Malachias and Barcado families.

  13. March 13th, 2010

    Jeff Strozer:

    I really feel at home here!! I thought all of the culture on my mother’s side of the family was lost to time. I do not really know where the family started but they follow the trail of many other families from the region.. My Grandfather, Alberto Behar married Jentil Behar traveled the world and ended up in California. I would like to gain much more information related to this part of my family and want to thank all of you for the outstanding job you are doing!

  14. February 2nd, 2010

    Efraim Varzan Capuya:

    Soy biznieto del rabi Yacov Capuya y conozco todas las comidas Sefarditas de Rodas y Ierushalaim.

  15. January 28th, 2010

    matilde galapo:

    la ricetta dei boyos e come quella di mia madre bulgara e papa turco. grazie, mille

  16. September 13th, 2009

    Liliane Abergel:

    Simply fantastic! I came across this website after I decided to do a Holiday “cleaning” of my saved Favorites files. I was born into a Sefaradic home in Alexandria, Egypt. A delightful surprise awaited me when I discovered recipes, on your website, that my grandmother used to make such as boyos! Although my cooking is basically Sefaradi it has been greatly influenced by my growing up in France, living in Israel and of course in the US. I have always loved anything to do with Jewish History and this website is a wonderful gift! Thank you so much for keeping it open to other Jews. Chag sameach ve Shana Tova u mevorachat! Liliane