New York Shuk: Middle Eastern Pantry

Leetal Arazi, co-founder, NYShuk.

“We are a Brooklyn-based maker of handcrafted Middle Eastern pantry staples,” NYShuk said. Its pantry includes the Harissa Collection, Middle Eastern Spice Collection, Cracker Collaboration with Hayden Flour Mills, and Preserved Lemon Paste. For Brooklyn’s DIY world, it offers couscous kits and their Moroccan tea set, with abundant recipes accompanying each item.

Founders Leetal and Ron Arazi are of mixed Middle-Eastern heritage. Leetal’s Turkish grandmother is a Sephardic descendant, her last name being Toledo, like the city in Spain. She carried a Spanish passport, and her family spoke Ladino at home. Leetal’s ancestors were chefs. Ron, himself a chef, is half Moroccan, half Lebanese. Both are now Brooklynites, living in Bed Stuy. NYShuk is headquartered between Bushwick and Bed Stuy. They sell their products, teach cooking classes, and host pop-up dinners, all as part of their mission to “take Middle Eastern flavors out of the Middle East and into everyday cooking.”

NYShuk’s current drive is to enhance American appreciation for Matbucha, which means “cooked salad” in Arabic. A Maghrebi tomato and pepper dish that is served as an appetizer or mezze dish, Matbucha is flexible in its seasoning. For traditionalists, NYShuk has a classic Matbucha, made with tomatoes, Hatch chile peppers, garlic, and paprika. Calling Matbucha the “‘It’ condiment that belongs on your food shelf, Food52 singled out for praise Shuk’s “unorthodox option featuring olives and mint, which aren’t common ingredients in the classic recipe.”

Departures Magazine calls the Preserved Lemon Past “sunshine in a jar.— if the sun was feeling a little crazy that day, perhaps dangling askew and singing a song.” The lemon paste is highly versatile and can be mixed, Departures said, with Greek yogurt, or added to a leek and turnip soup, or spread on crusty toast. New York Magazine’s Strategist took Preserved Lemon Paste to a new hip level, dubbing it PLP, and praising it as a base for club soda and/or gin, an ingredient of olive-oil cake, or a sauce for pork chops.