Michael Berkowits’ Kosher Chicken Paprikash

Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash Recipe

Last week I visited with my friend, Michael Berkowits, a retired chef and Holocaust survivor living here in Southern California. I first met Michael last year through my friend and fellow food writer Jackie Dodd, who blogs at DomesticFits.com and TheBeeroness.com. At that time, she ran a social work program for local seniors (she has since gone on to write a fabulous cookbook!). Ever since Jackie introduced us, Michael and I have stayed in touch. When we first met, he shared his incredible life story with me, which I wrote about in this post: Michael Berkowits’ Tiramisu. If you haven’t had a chance to read his story yet, please do. Have tissues handy. He is a wonderful person who has been through so much, yet he remains positive and full of life. I feel so blessed to know him.

Michael has been wanting to teach me his recipe for Kosher Chicken Paprikash, so last Wednesday I headed over to his place for a cooking lesson. My assistant Ashley came along for the ride to snap pics. Michael walked us through the process of making the recipe, step-by-step.

Michael became familiar with this dish during his childhood. He grew up in Transylvania (what is now the central part of Romania, and was once part of Hungary). Because of his background, many of his family recipes have a Hungarian influence. Michael’s mother, who sadly was lost in the Holocaust, cooked this dish for him when he was a young boy. After moving to Israel and later America, Michael became a chef. Though he cooks a variety of foods from around the world, the Hungarian-inspired dishes hold a special place in his heart.

Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash Recipe

This chicken paprikash might be slightly different than the paprikash you’re familiar with. Many Hungarian paprikash recipes contain sour cream, which adds creaminess to the sauce. Because Michael grew up kosher and milk was never mixed with meat, this recipe contains no dairy. The sauce is rich and thick, but not creamy. Nowadays kosher cooks can substitute dairy-free sour cream in a dish like this, but back then soy-based dairy substitutes didn’t exist. If you aren’t worried about keeping it kosher, you can stir in 1/2 cup sour cream (or more to taste) at the end of cooking. That said, I honestly don’t feel like the dish needs it. I didn’t miss the sour cream here at all. This chicken paprikash is totally delicious as-is.

Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash Recipe

Traditionally the dish is served over what Michael called nokeli – in some regions it is known as nokedli or spätzle. These simple little egg noodle dumplings couldn’t be easier to make. I’ve provided instructions here: Nokedli – Spätzle. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making the dumplings (or if you’re gluten free), you can easily sub mashed potatoes, rice, or even quinoa. The dish pairs well with a starch, but you could also serve it with a green vegetable or mashed cauliflower to make it low carb. It’s a versatile entree.

After we cooked, we ate together and chatted about Michael’s new hobby. He’s recently started organizing large dinners for the residents of his retirement complex. Everybody pitches in money for the ingredients, then Michael cooks the food. They’ve been doing it twice a month, but the residents are enjoying it so much they’ve asked him to do it every week! Not surprising, Michael’s food is really amazing.

I’ve broken down Michael’s instructions to create the Kosher Chicken Paprikash recipe below. It’s a pretty simple dish to make. This is a hearty but healthy cold weather dish, a super comforting meal. Thanks to Michael for sharing!

To learn to make Nokedli – Spätzle, click here.

Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash Recipe

Kosher Chicken Paprikash

Paprikash Ingredients

  • 12 pieces chicken legs and thighs
  • 2 tsp paprika (Hungarian paprika is best)
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 tsp chicken consomme powder
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley, divided
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch

You will also need

  • Large sauce pot, blender
Kosher Key: Meat
  • Before he begins, Michael likes to take the skin off of the chicken, so the dish doesn't contain as much fat. You can leave the skin on if you prefer.
  • Sprinkle the chicken pieces generously with paprika, salt and pepper (if using kosher chicken, salt lightly).
  • Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash RecipePlace the bell peppers, tomatoes, chicken consomme powder and garlic into a blender.
  • Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash RecipeBlend to form a sauce.
  • Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash RecipeIn a large pot, heat olive oil over medium. Saute the onion slices in olive oil until tender.
  • Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash RecipeOnce the onions have softened and are starting to caramelize, add the seasoned chicken pieces to the pot. Saute for a few minutes.
  • Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash RecipePour the blended sauce over the top of the chicken pieces. Add water till the sauce just covers the chicken.
  • Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash RecipeSprinkle with 3 tbsp of the chopped parsley, season with salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1 1/4 tsp of each), and bring to a boil.
  • Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash RecipeReduce heat to a low simmer. Cover the pot, vented slightly.
  • Cook the chicken for about 1 hour or to desired tenderness. The longer it simmers the more tender it becomes.
  • Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash RecipeWhen the chicken is finished cooking, adjust salt and pepper seasoning to taste. Mix together 2 tbsp cornstarch with 3 tbsp of cold water. Gently stir the corn starch mixture into the chicken sauce and simmer for a minute or two to thicken.
  • Serve chicken and sauce over warm nokedli - spätzle or the starch of your choice. Mashed potatoes, egg noodles and rice will also work well. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp chopped parsley to garnish (optional).
  • Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash Recipe

Comments (91)Post a Comment

  1. Ooooh…yum yum, this sounds wonderful and will definitely make this tonite! Thanks so much, Michael, for sharing this recipe with us!! Shalom!

  2. Great story and this paprikash recipe sounds delicious (I’ve only tried Joan Nathan’s and I am a big fan). I usually have it with chickpeas and I highly recommend the combination.

  3. I remember my Swedish grandmother making this for my Hungarian grandfather. She showed me how to mix the dough, flatten it on a cutting board and cut off little pieces into boiling water.She was fast with that knife. When the nokedli ( we pronounced it nook a lee) were cooked, they would float. Thanks for the memories.

    1. My Tante used to use a butter knife to scrape little bits of dough (from her hand) into the pot of boiling water. And yes, she was very fast with that knife

  4. This version sounds delicious!
    I grew up eating chicken paprikash but my German mom cooked it a bit differently for my Austrian dad who loved this dish.
    I learned how to cook it too.

  5. This brings back memories of my grandmother who was from Plauen, Germany, which is right on the Czech border. She would make spatzle by cutting the batter off the side of a plate with a butter knife. She would let the little noodles fall one at a time into the pot! I wish I had memorized all the details of her cooking, but I was too young to think into the future and realize what a treasure it is to recreate a family recipe. This post brought back great memories.

    1. Not a dumb question Ellen! It is available in most grocery stores, usually where the chicken broth is sold. It’s basically powdered chicken bouillon that can be reconstituted with liquid. :)

  6. This looks wonderful…Thank you for sharing…I have many authentic Hungarian/Kosher dishes that have been passed down to me…will have to try this recipe

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