In addition to the classic Tonnarelli Carbonara, Saltimbocca or Suppli, Roman cuisine also boasts numerous other treats including Carciofi alla Giudia, or rather Jewish artichokes, a typical dish from the Roman ghetto. This recipe of fried artichokes has Jewish-Roman origins and according to Italian grandmothers, must strictly be made with a specific variety of artichokes called Mammole.
The origins of Carciofi alla Giudia
This typical Roman speciality seems to date back many years, given the appearance of the recipe in some 16th century cookbooks. The name of the recipe comes from “Giudea” (Judea or Jewish): in fact, according to some people, this dish was eaten during Yom Kippur celebrations, the day of Jewish Atonement, while others claim it was prepared for Pesach, or Passover. Either way, it is certainly a dish of Jewish culinary heritage which, over the years, has spread from the Roman ghetto throughout the capital city, where its popularity continues to grow thanks largely to its simple yet indulgent nature.
The secrets of tradition for a flawless recipe
To make the best Carciofi alla Giudia you must follow tradition. The original recipe calls for the use of Mammole (also known as Cimaroli), a variety of round, spine-free artichokes with a very tender and soft texture that makes them easier to cook and allows you to eat the whole vegetable. These green, slightly purple, regional products are typical of the Lazio countryside and are mainly cultivated in the areas of Cerveteri, Ladispoli and Campagnano.
What’s more, the use of only the strictly necessary ingredients (in this case five) is essential for a faultless recipe that makes for a genuine and traditional dish. To make typical Roman-ghetto-worthy Carciofi alla Giudia you need: Mammole artichokes, lemon, extra virgin olive oil (or seed oil), salt and pepper.
The original Carciofi alla Giudia recipe
As far as the method is concerned, you need to start by preparing the artichokes. After washing them thoroughly, be sure to remove the toughest leaves on the outside using a small knife. Then, soak the artichokes in a bowl of water and lemon for about ten minutes. This will stop the vegetables from discolouring.
Now, to get the classic flower shape, open the artichokes well and deep fry them in hot oil (the optimum temperature for perfect Carciofi alla Giudia is around 170°C). There are some who prefer to use groundnut oil while others prefer extra virgin olive oil: here at Ristorante Amedeo we recommend the latter to make the dish even tastier.
The recipe involves double-frying, first to soften the artichokes and second to make them crispy (but be careful not to burn them). Once fried, sprinkle the Carciofi alla Giudia with salt and pepper and dig in. We suggest savouring them one leaf at a time, as if they were chips, leaving the artichoke’s soft heart for the big finale.
You’ll be hooked instantly!