The Secret Matzo Balls

Never mind matzah as the food of the poor slaves who raced out of Egypt without time to let the bread rise. For us matzah balls came to represent my mother’s power to turn humble food into something light enough to ascend to heaven.

Each Passover we sat in eager anticipation for this dish. At last the steaming bowl of chicken soup with the large loosely shaped matzo ball that always threatened to disintegrate in the liquid arrives. Spoon cuts ball in half and encounters nothing but sweet softness throughout. Tastes as good as it feels. No chewy matzo balls in this house!

How did she do it? She gave me the recipe, I made matzo balls sometimes almost as good, sometimes quite ordinary, a few times like golf balls. My sons said the right thing, but their eyes said, “These aren’t Nana’s.”

The family gathered at our house for seder one year. The matzo balls are set before each person, my mother divides and devours hers first. I’ve stopped breathing. With amazement she proclaims, “Malka, the matzo balls are wonderful.” Everyone echoes her sentiments. I’ve used Manischewitz Matzo Mix.

If you’d like to try my mother’s recipe, here it is:

5 well-beaten eggs

6 tablespoons cold water

1 cup matzah meal

5 tablespoons rendered chicken fat

Mix the ingredients together in a large bowl. Cover and put in the refrigerator for four hours. Bring four quarts of water to boil. Roll the mixture into little balls and drop into the boiling water. Cook covered for a half-an-hour. This makes 10-12 matzah balls.